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Kirk Read

April 2000

Out of Order

Should I stay or should I go?

When I was 20, I attended the 1993 March on Washington. It wasn't exactly the stuff of personal revolution. I was in the Virginia delegation, so I waited all day to march and heard the tail end of Jesse Jackson's "Keep Rainbows Alive" speech. I came home with a farmer's sunburn, a March on Washington rainbow bracelet and the phone number of a man with whom I later had a drama-filled relationship. So I should admit up front that I'm not exactly nostalgic about 1993. I enjoyed the video a lot, though.

"Kirk, do you really *want* to go to the Millennium March on Washington?" My travel agent sometimes doubles as my therapist. Much to her chagrin, I called her not to book a flight to D.C., but to have a philosophical discussion about booking a flight to D.C. My inner lesbian needed to process the March. Finally, my travel agent told me that I should call back when my inner lesbian had reached a consensus-based decision.

As a columnist, I've been called lots of things: opinionated, arrogant, bitchy, corny, funny, kinky. Ambivalent has never been an adjective hurled at me. Well, kids, here I am in Questionville.

I'm completely befuddled about whether to go to the Millinery March on Washington in April.

I've received dozens of emails from MMOW organizers, urging me to vote on the greatest hits of gay liberation issues. I felt like a guest on VH1's "The List." Curiously, the right to suck cock was not among the choices. So I picked "Other" and wrote that in.

I've been to a number of meetings of the Ad Hoc Committee for an Open Process. They're the rather contrary folks who insist that things be done democratically. Democracy, in case you don't recognize that quaint little word, went out of vogue in the 1980s. Many of the good folks who organized democratically either died or became public relations people. They're making more money, and we're left with glib sound bytes about how "the gay community" is "just like everyone else."

Since I hate long meetings, the Ad Hoc gatherings were exercises in homicidal restraint. One after another, attendees grabbed the microphone, usually beginning their rant with a caveat like "As a cranky leftist woman-identified woman" or "As a longtime devotee of water sports." As these meetings stretched on for hours, I found myself thinking "To hell with democracy. This March needs a couples counselor."

My truck with the MMOW is not nearly so lofty as moral outrage about inclusivity. It just strikes me as really boring. Call me cynical, but something tells me that Ellen Degeneres isn't going to be making an "I Have a Dream" speech.

The weekend festivities include a concert at RFK stadium called Equality Rocks, starring Melissa Etheridge and friends. At the risk of alienating, well, everyone, I must say that the Divine Miss E seems to me less Janis Joplin than she is the poor woman's Bruce Springsteen.

In the interest of fairness, I've resorted to list making as a way of determining whether to attend the MMOW.

Reasons to go to the March:

1. Cruising (for lesbians, substitute "networking") opportunities. Forget all that "We are your neighbors, we are your children" bull. When you boil it down to soup stock, sex is what makes us a distinct population. Sex is what makes high school hell for us. Sex is what gives us that mythical "gay disposable income."

2. A chance to rub elbows with multiple Hollywood blondes like Kristen Johnson. I couldn't figure out which list should include this item, so I'm putting it in both. Big hearted B-movie blondes are not a new phenomenon, kids. Remember Judith Light in '93? Seeking approval from famous heterosexuals has been a boon for gay publications during the past decade. Celebrities who are "edgy" enough to say "Queers don't have cooties" hock their wares to an allegedly viable market niche. Say you're gay friendly and you qualify as an ally, which puts you in the running to be canonized as a gay icon. You don't see *Ebony* magazine and *Jet* featuring white people on their covers with the headline "We *like* black people!" Have we lost our minds?

3. Personal transformation from exposure to so many homosexuals at one time.

4. Guilt. The March is lame, but it's the biggest thing going for my generation in the way of LGBT gatherings. If I don't go, I'll feel like I'm missing something important.

Reasons not to go to the March:

1. $1000 might be better spent elsewhere, like rent. When the now defunct Mulryan-Nash interviewed people for its now famous "gays have lots of disposable income" report, I was obviously not contacted.

2. Ellen and Anne are B-movie girls whose speeches will be peppered with bland "We're just like you" aphorisms brought to you by the well-meaning folks at the Human Rights Campaign. Yawn.

3. Personal transformation from being exposed to so much rainbow merchandise at one time.

4. Guilt. Going to the March is a tacit endorsement of all that is mediocre in queer culture. What's a progressive dyke in a gay boy's body to do? The MMOW has been put together as a mass culture event, with the intention of showing the public the face of gay America. The "face of gay America" has been surgically enhanced, airbrushed, and digitally modified. Most of us, who make up the stomach, feet, and certainly the genitals of gay America, have been cropped out of the picture.

It remains to be seen how many of the rest of us will show our faces in April. My travel agent may hear from me yet.

Kirk Read lives in San Francisco. More of his writing can be seen at www.temenos.net/kirkread


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