December 4th, 2004

Discussion for the Weekend Crowd

In case I'm not the only one with a lot of procrastinating to do this weekend...

There has been a lot of discussion and activism lately out here on the Left Coast (and possibly elsewhere, too, I don't know) about queer "assimilation." For instance, there is the recent book on the subject, featuring a lot of the usual suspects from the Bay Area. I have myself been on the "assimilation, boo!" side, but very moderately so, for instance I am passionate about marriage rights in a way that would make most radical sorts gag.

Then it occurred to me, ok, if we're anti-assimilation, that means we're pro-keeping our distinct culture. Which is only a problem because I really couldn't tell you what "queer culture" is. The examples I could think of are very particular and not shared by everybody by a long shot. A lot of them are based on stereotypes to an extent (dance music and herbal tea, say). And a lot of them are pretty damn ethnocentric to boot. My former paradigm for "assimilation/resistance" has been the Jewish community, which isn't homogenous either, but it's a lot easier to make the distinction: menorah=Jewish, Hannukah bush=assimilationist; Syrian cherry meatballs=Jewish, ham and cheese bagelwich=assimilationist. Etc.

So my question for discussion is this: what is queer culture? What does it include, what assumptions are behind it? Or, if you want to really stick your neck out there, IS there queer culture, per se?