What is community?

These been this been this idea that’s been instrumental to every civil right’s movement. That idea is in one word ; community. The idea that there are like-minded folks who share your beliefs and your passion in making that dream a reality is crucial to the success of any cause. What happens when the idea of community loses importance though? Does that mean we’re forced to say goodbye to any possibility of any real change?

I’ve asked myself this question a lot over time. Now I know what you’re thinking, but this isn’t some “woe is me” line of crap about how difficult I’ve had it, but my story is important, at least to me and to this idea of community. Let’s be real, coming out in small town Ohio is never an easy task, but I relished the fact that if anybody wanted to start something with me, I was pretty damn sure I would be the one to finish it. No, this isn’t a coming out story.

In fact, life in Ohio was pretty uneventful. It was when I moved to Chicago that the pressure to identify one’s self within the gay community really got to me. See, I’ve always been a man. This isn’t to say that gay guys aren’t men, but I was a man first and gay was a secondary characteristic. ANyone can tell you, it’s hardly the first thing people know about me and I’d like to think it isn’t the only thing people remember about me. Now this isn’t stemming from some internal homophobia or anything. I’m happy with who I am, but this is where the idea of community comes in.

Is there any room for someone who identifies as gay as a secondary trait in the “gay community”? Because according to some, there’s no room for us at all. See, after being bribed with the promise of beer to go to the pride parade, I went along with a couple friends. It was there that I was enlightened. No telling how it came about, but at one point, some drag queens walking a few yards behind us looked at me and said, “You’re not gay enough to be here.” Now, I wasn’t aware that there was a qualifying exam, but the two major items on the checklist (1. Attraction to members of the same sex and 2. Facing the same discrimination that other gay folks do) I’ve got in spades.

This brings me to my point. Is there such a thing as the gay community. I mean, certainly there are kindred spirits and we’re bound by some of the same things, but is that really enough? These ornery drag queens didn’t seem to think so. But I’ve never thought of wearing my homosexuality on my sleeve. Like I said, it’s a part of me, but only a part. There are certainly those who make their livelihoods based on their sexuality and I wouldn’t dare judge them for that. But honestly, looking at some of the people around me in the “gay community”, it’s difficult to believe such a thing exists. There’s so much tension and division within the “gay community” so my question is, is that really a community?

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