Cynthia Belmont, a professor at Northland College, in a new op-ed published by Salon, states that in the last few years, she’s seen an uptick in students who seem to take offense at things that have defined LGBTQ culture for decades.
We deserve all the rights, obviously. We deserve to be who we are and who we want to be and not to be harassed or killed for it, and we deserve to have and keep our children and set up shop in the suburbs if we want. We deserve to pee in peace in the bathroom that suits our identity and serve in the military. Obviously. I myself have lived in fear as a parent with no legal rights. But. Apparently, in the pursuit of rights and respectability, we have somehow shifted as a culture from the celebration of eros to the celebration of victimhood — to comfortably inhabiting a state of being prickly and appalled — and apparently we now have to be and feel like victims in order even to deserve rights. This worries me.
Are we going to become so focused on our legal standing and our feelings, so invested in queer culture as a culture of rights, respectability and sensitivity, that we lose our playfulness and the toughness that used to define survival? Do we just not want to be tough anymore? Are we too emotionally exhausted, or just too bourgeois, to appreciate a classic bitchy drag emcee? Her sensibility was always at the cultural fringe — is there no room for it now? Or are we the truly bitchy ones, ever ready with the political upper hand raised to slap down those among us who still want to play around the edges, where things are a little less comfortable and correct?
Who cares? I do. Because my queer students are so fragile, so easily hurt, and I am worried about them — and not in the way that they want me to be. Because when I say to one of them, “Being a victim is not hot, and in my day a political platform based on being a victim would never have gained traction,” she seems startled but retorts that on the contrary, victimhood is hot, adding, “What about BDSM?” And so I explain that BDSM is not about being a victim, it’s about moving beyond and transforming victimization — for those who come to it that way — and it’s about destabilizing the grounds of victimization, through playing with power. Which is also what drag is about in its way. And I am shocked to find myself in the position of defending, to a queer, the value of hotness — as shocked as she seems to be at the idea that hotness could be the point of queer culture.
I don’t believe her. I don’t believe that she really finds victimhood hot, unless . . . is this a new fetish that is hopelessly lost on me since I’m almost 50? I won’t — I can’t — believe in the victim as the new face of queer culture. What were all those drag queens at Stonewall fighting for, anyway? If victimhood is hot, then we have lost.
So in a nutshell. We fought for our rights so millennials can be offended.
So are millennial snowflakes are ruining LGBT culture? Share your thoughts in the comments…