Dear Outward readers,
A few months ago, I published a post here praising the bold gayness of Brendan Jordan, a wonderfully flamboyant young man who had vogued his way into Internet fame in the background of a local newscast. In the comments section of that post, a reader who identified as homosexual offered a striking distinction between his sexual orientation and gayness, a thing he felt that Jordan embodied and with which he did not want to be associated. “Homosexual actually feels more comfortable to me than gay,” he wrote.
It’s that division that I set out to explore in my new long-form project, “What Was Gay?,” which runs in Slate today. Embarking from the premise that, yes, not all homosexuals are culturally gay and that cultural gayness is on the wane, I track gayness from its origins in the late 19th century into the present and reflect on how that history has shaped my own experience as a gay man. From there, I try to reduce gayness to its core practices and ponder the question of who—ungrateful homosexual men aside—might best make use of them going forward.
I invite you, our treasured Outward readers, to check out the piece and to let me know your thoughts (Twitter, Facebook, email). As you’ll see, so much of the inspiration for this project came from conversations on this blog, so it’s only appropriate that the discussion continue here.
Yours, in gayness,