Friday, 29 July 2011

More fluffy escapism

This piece originally appeared at Womanist Musings where Renee has very generously allowed my random musings to appear on her excellent blog

There are innumerable ways I while away the few... well, minutes that aren't already claimed in my extra hectic circle. And one among my guilty pleasures is the computer game, the Sims 3. Especially when I'm reading a book for Fangs for the Fantasy that is so ultra painful that I have to do something else at the same time to distract me

Anyway, a friend of mine looked over my shoulder and was surprised at my gay commune. Yes, all my Sims, their children and grandchildren were gay – my little gaytopia. And this confused and bemused her. Isn't it silly? Isn't it unrealistic?

And I have to say this is a game where my eldest Sim is a vampire, where I can make the kids age by buying a cake, I can on holiday to France, find some artefacts and bring them home (also the only place you can buy a camera) and put them on your shelves. I can buy teleport pad for crying out loud. But an all gay household? That's just ridiculous!

And I recall, the many times when I complained about lack of decent GBLT representation out there, commenters have objected because “realistically” there just simply aren't that many GBLT people, right? So surely a lack of us is just “realistic.” Never mind the other effects of representation on a marginalised population, never mind that even if the quota in the media exactly matched the proportions in real life, we'd still need a damn site more characters. Never mind how we commonly accept elves and goblins and star ships and that absolutely anyone laughs along with those laugh tracks. No, too many GBLTs? That's totally unrealistic.

The Sims and my little gaytopia is one of my escapisms – and that in itself is somewhat sad. Because it is escapism into a different world to me, a world that so bemuses my straight friend and outrages those straight commenters, a world where I'm not surrounded by people who are like me, where I can have a gay space, a gay dominated place and it be normal and normalised. It's world that I not only do not have, but the very idea of which is actively resisted by straightness. And yes, it is a lovely thought – and not entirely from bad experience, not entirely from the tension, nerves and caution I feel whenever I'm in a predominantly straight space.

But, apart from anything else, simple demographics makes this damn hard. No matter how many victories we win, no matter how much progress we make, straight cis folks are always going to massively outnumber us GBLT folk. And that's even if we reach a time when the very idea of a large number of GBLT people is not considered so reality breaking, utterly unbelievably weird or outrageously ridiculous to be mocked, shunned and condemned. Even if it's considered interesting or fun or even good – demographics will make it unobtainable.

And this is one of the reasons I like Pride (one of many as well as many dislikes of what is happening to Pride, but both are different issues). Because for a moment, for the length of that celebration, we have a GBLT space. For that short moment, we have that little gaytopia, that little island of us in a sea of straight, cis people and just being in there. I find it almost intoxicating, all the little kinks in my muscles work themselves out, all that tension fades, it's freedom, it's peace and its home. And it's why, among many reasons why, the cancelling of Pride, the attacks on Pride, the suppression of Pride, outrages me so. But also why the commercialisation of Pride and the sanitisation of Pride – sanitisation to make it more palatable to the straight, cis eye – is wounding. Straightness presses in on our spaces again – and changing to suit the straight, cis folks is just another loss of that space, that gaytopia.

And it's why I like GBLT spaces. Our clubs, pubs, community centres, bookstores, saunas and bathouses, the little centres, and even those little community spots you know about if you're in the know, those carefully guarded times and places where the rainbow lurks. Which is why I dislike them being invaded by straight, cis people, why I dislike the tourists, the fetishisers and especially the hating trolls (who come to our spaces expressly to start fights and attack us). But even the well behaved visitor. It's so easy for a GBLT space to be overwhelmed by even the most well meaning of straight, cis people. From GBLT bars to the Lambda Awards, there are just so many more straight, cis people that it's very easy for us to lose our spaces before the sea of non-GBLTs.

Sometimes it' just nice to think that in this place, at this time it's about us. Just for once, just here, just for a while, it's about us in a world that isn't about us – and never really will be. And it's why the places we have – the times, the places, the neighbourhoods, the celebrations, the clubs, the stores, the bars – all the places and the times wherever and whenever they are, need to be protected. Because they're damn rare in this straight, cis world – and they're very easily destroyed. And I don't think there'll ever be a time when we don't want them – and don't need them.