If anyone ever writes a book on the long, sordid history of unintended consequences, the New York City Police Department's decision to raid a dingy little gay bar called the Stonewall Inn in late June of 1969 deserves its own chapter. New York's Finest stormed into the bar expecting to shake down a bunch of terrified, closeted sissies. Instead, the sissies fought back.
Inspired by the Stonewall Riots, gay men and lesbians all over the world began pouring out of their closets. We refused to live a "straight life" anymore--which back in 1969 meant getting married young, getting fat young, having babies young, and wasting away in some awful suburb. Instead we moved to cool (if rundown) urban neighborhoods, went to cool (if sleazy) clubs, started women's music collectives, hit the gym, and had lots of sex with lots of people--too much sex, in some cases.
At first straight people were appalled. Look at all those queers! Hedonists! Living for today! They're just having fun! Lots more fun than we're having in the 'burbs, with our babies and spare tires....
Soon straight people were moving into our cool urban neighborhoods, having lots of sex, hitting the gym, putting off having children, and in general acting like a bunch of queers. At some point after Stonewall and before Sex and the City, straight people appropriated gay life! But you straight people only appropriated the good stuff. You took the top-shelf items--things like anal sex and gym bodies and ironic detachment. You never appropriated any of the bad stuff--bottom-shelf stuff, like our parents and eternal damnation and gay newspapers. Which hardly seems fair. Yes, queers have fun, but we pay a price. Being gay is a drag sometimes; it's not all fun and games and fisting, you know.
In this year's Queer Issue, gay and lesbian writers are insisting that straight people take the bad along with the good, the bottom-shelf items along with the top-shelf items. Don't just appropriate some of it, breeders. Appropriate all of it. --Dan Savage