From Stuyvesant Park to Disney -- We Have Arrived!
"Assimilate My Purse," Maximumrocknroll, October 2007
Touch so brutal and illuminated
I don't remember how I first discovered Stuyvesant Park, maybe it was some guy who brought me there from the porn shop on 3rd Avenue. It was one of those frigid nights when you think the rain should be snow but it's not, it's rain and somehow that makes it colder. The park was dark or as dark as downtown gets the gates were closed, they looked closed but they weren't and when we got inside there was someone waiting in the rain and I thought oh, this is the place.
But also David Wojnarowicz wrote about Stuyvesant Park, I remember he’d found shelter there but that was long before, by the time I moved to New York he'd already been dead five years, shelter was harder to inhabit. So much longer ago it seemed when I'd discovered David in an obituary, can I even call him by his first name? Stuyvesant Park is a strange corner of downtown, without the grandeur of Union Square or the counterculture allure of Tompkins Square Park but it was a corner where I found touch so brutal and illuminated, gentle too but this also was disappearing thanks to Giuliani and gentrification, surveillance and chain stores, NYU dorms and other crackdowns on public sensibility.
When they started locking the gates it didn't really matter, everyone moved to the steps of the church where people were also sleeping, sometimes there was overlap and sometimes the adventure winded down steps, into below-ground alcoves dead-ending into doors. I'm not sure what these spaces were designed for, probably not the shivering embrace of hands and mouths and eyes and cocks, bodies grasping yes. In these makeshift rooms or thrusting right up against the gates of the park like that was some kind of shelter just desire, maybe someone would look out that was enough and sometimes the cops were there too but then everyone would walk around the block, a good way to discover other not-quite-hiding places, you could memorize landmarks for next time then return with more information, people always returned that's what I counted on.
Now the gates are always locked, after polite hours when everything used to start. No one even walks around the perimeter, searching. Maybe it's not as blatant as a gleaming white tower on Rivington, but gazing in sometimes it's hard just to remember, the way gentrification even robs you of imagination.
Disney will save us -- thank you, Disney!
I can't resist a little bit of media critique after reading “Corporate America: the New Gay Activists,” a post on The Huffington Post (supposedly a progressive blog, or so they say). This masterpiece is by Kirk Snyder, author of The G Quotient: Why Gay Executives are Excelling as Leaders... And What Every Manager Needs to Know, who offers so many stellar quotes that it's hard even to know where to start, so let me go right through in a somewhat conventional linear manner -- starting with the beginning, that is.
Snyder informs us of a fascinating Gallup poll that found that “almost ninety percent of Americans said they believe gay people should have equal rights in the workplace. Interestingly, only forty-seven percent of these same people believe that being gay is ‘morally acceptable.’”
Now, instead of calling attention to this obvious contradiction, Snyder decides that “Even those people who still think we are not ‘morally acceptable’ have to admit there is nothing threatening or subversive going on among these professionals.” Snyder is speaking of gay professionals in the corporate workplace, and he may certainly be correct in maintaining that these model employees are doing nothing threatening or subversive at IBM, Exxon, Halliburton, or any other company they inhabit. Although perhaps this is the problem -- or one of the many problems -- of the assimilation success story, right? I mean, that these tragic gay employees only further the monstrous violence of corporate profiteers instead of doing anything "threatening or subversive." Most of these lovely employees are no doubt exploring and promoting race and class privilege at work (instead of using privilege to challenge systems of oppression), then going home to work on promoting gentrification and other forms of neighborhood "beautification" in order to further real estate development and urban removal.
But Snyder goes on to conclude that, “this heightened visibility of gay people in the world of work goes a long way in creating mainstream credibility, which by the way is essential in order to reach the long-term goal of sexual orientation simply being a non-issue.” Again, mainstream credibility is assumed to be the end goal, followed by sexuality becoming a "non-issue." But wait -- whose goals are those? Oh, the corporations where these nice gays work. I love this synchronicity!
But one of the most perplexing lines in this piece is when Snyder declares that the presence of corporate gay drones is “a contemporary anecdote for homophobia." What the hell is an “anecdote for homophobia”? Let me try this one, of my own creation: “well, I was hanging out by the copy machine when that new employee with the paisley tie and those Brooks Brothers suits that always look a little too freshly pressed, plus Gucci loafers -- I mean, who wears Gucci loafers at Halliburton -- maybe Ferragamo but Gucci, really! Anyway, I noticed his wedding ring was braided platinum -- I mean, how gay is that?"
Okay, I'm imagining that the editors over at Huffington Post were a little harried on the evening of July 16, because I'm guessing that Snyder means antidote, not anecdote (or, perhaps bloggers at Huffington Post are not edited -- I'm not sure). But even if Snyder does mean "antidote," he's already stated that, although a Gallup poll finds that 90 percent of so-called “Americans” don't think you should be fired if you're gay, 47 percent of those same people don't think muffdiving and cocksucking are morally acceptable. Sounds like homophobia is alive and well!
But get this... Snyder tells us that "out-of-the-closet gay executives in companies like Deloitte, Disney and Morgan Stanley are managing employees who report significantly higher levels of job engagement, satisfaction and morale than employees of straight managers in other environments." Isn't that so cute? Singing show tunes and organizing potlucks have really paid off for the corporate gays -- they keep their employees in line by entertaining them! That's right, if you do the can-can right, your employees don't even notice that they're indentured servants. As Snyder says, "Inclusion as it turns out is good for the bottom line." I'm so glad that inclusion isn’t cutting into corporate profits -- oh, the thought is enough to send me out for another Grey Goose cosmotini, and we both know there's more work to do first, Mary... I mean Walt!
But the best part is yet to come... there's apparently a group called G Suite. That's right, “A play on the business term C-Suite designating chief officer positions, the G Suite is an ever-growing collection of high-level gay corporate executives, wealthy philanthropists and select political types working together (rather stealth-like up until this point it seems) toward a common objective: helping to place the first out-of-the-closet CEO at the helm of a major Fortune 500 company.” No, really -- like the Masons? Break open the bubbly, Babs, this is certainly the dawning of a new era...
And then another slip on the part of Snyder (I just love these slips!), who declares that "the road to anti-gay hate crimes, same-sex marriage, and even gay adoption may already be paved.” I couldn't agree more that the existence of a corporate gay elite who cares only about their own success (oh, and the success of the company!) furthers anti-queer violence, but somehow I think Snyder meant to write "the road to gay inclusion in hate crimes legislation," not simply the road to more "anti-gay hate crimes."
Snyder concludes his compelling piece by stating, "An out-of-the-closet CEO of any blue-chip company will be a watershed day for gay equality. More than likely, all of those other watershed days we've been waiting for will then simply fall into place.”
Really? An out-of-the-closet CEO of a blue-chip company will bring the end to US imperialism, corporate bloodshed, global warming, binary gender tyranny, the policing of desire, the dismantling of all nuclear warheads, the end of consumerism... healthcare, housing and food for everyone... the opportunity for everyone to create their gender, sexual, social and political identities and dismantle all systems of oppression at the same time... self-determination for all children, an end to police, the liberation of public space, the end of hierarchies based on identity, and a new way of looking at the world -- all of that will simply fall into place?
Thank you, Disney!