It Was 25 Years Ago Today

Selections from the Village Voice's annual Queer Issue

Queers Without Money
By Amber Hollibaugh

After my first year, we moved from the chicken coop into a trailer. My father worked three jobs simultaneously, rarely sleeping. My mother took whatever work she could find: mending, washing, and ironing other people's clothes. But we never really recovered. We were impoverished. Growing up, I was always poor. I am also a lesbian.


The 25th Annual Queer Issue

  • Beyond the Stepford Queers
    Welcome to the age of do-it-yourself identity
  • I Ruck, Therefore I Am
    Rugby and the gay male body
    Christopher Stahl
  • My Big Fat Funky Queer Marriage
    Forget the rice. (We're on Atkins.) No his-and-his towels. (Nothing matches in our house.) Just give us Viagra—and wish us well
    by Richard Goldstein
  • Transmale Nation
    Remaking manhood in the genderqueer generation
    by Elizabeth Cline
  • The Great Gay Way
    A brief history of Christopher Street
    by Wayne Hoffman
  • Elements Of Style: Chasing Rainbows
    Peace tees, platform shoes, and big pussies get ready for Pride day
    by Lynn Yaeger
  • Listings: There She Is, Miss L.E.S.
    She'll Take the Town by Storm
    by Keisha Franklin
  • Pride Events
  • This, then, is my queer identity: I am a high-femme, mixed-race, white-trash lesbian. And even after all these years of living in a middle-class gay community, I often feel left outside when people speak about their backgrounds, their families. And if you listen to the current telling of "our" queer tale, people like me would seem an anomaly. Because, we are told-and we tell ourselves-queerness can't be poor. (2001)

    My Intergeneration
    By Eileen Myles

    For dykes, generations are less about age than attitude. Try standing with a clump of your lesbian contemporaries. The dividing lines of race and class, shoes and musical taste, will predictably send us flying to our corners quicker than you can say butch/femme.

    I know I'm not alone in my ancient alienation and new affinity. There's a teeming society of women who identify the postpunk third wave of feminism as the beat we're listening to, because unlike the taboo-laden feminism of my youth, the new lesbian mise-en-scène is a fierce, wildly infectious, and inclusive cultural force. It's a dyke world where straight girls can come too, and maybe even men. Who needs separatism if you're the boss? (2000)

    Breaking the Heterosexual Contract
    By Monique Wittig

    We know that dominance is a fact of society, of culture, and not of nature. Consider that we gay people have already breached the (heterosexual) social contract, or I could not even write these words. Our aim must be to broaden the breach so that the actual contract will be turned inside out like a glove, so that it will become dubious to heterosexuals as well. Since we have identified the worm in the fruit, the defect in the tie that binds us, the only action we can accomplish to transform the social contract is to bring about the disappearance of sex as a category of thought. (1984)

    Beyond Accomodation
    By Richard Sennett

    I've been thinking in the last few months whether we as gay men and women, can really become part of the political process; whether we, like blacks or Jews, can be "accommodated". If we could be, our future would look something like this in New York. There would be a couple of openly gay members of the City Council. Our representatives would begin to counsel moderation: it takes time to build a coalition. There would be prominent gays on the boards of various corporations. The gay board members would be most successful in ensuring equal rights for gays who were the most successful in their corporate careers . . . The staffs of gay organizations would try to minimize the differences between gay clients and non-gay donors. Men who want to love boys, women who are adamant about pornography—to take two groups of radically opposed temperaments—would become embarrassing, unexplainable to the donors, and gradually these "extremists" would be excluded from the institutional framework of gay life. (1984)

    By Alisa Solomon

    Homosexuality riles the Jewish American imagination in some very secular ways. Most of all, it stirs anxiety around Jewishness as queerness, especially since American anti-Semitism is often expressed in stereotypes of Jews as gender dysfunctional: the effeminate, wimpy man; the woman who's not really a woman either because she's a commandeering Jewish mother or, a generation later, a frigid but highly adored JAP. Meanwhile, the stereotypical Jewish family—meek father, always away at work; domineering mother, always in the kitchen—is exactly the stereotype of the sort of parents who produce gay sons. Perhaps, suggests Historian Paul Brienes, Portnoy's Complaint wasn't that he needed Zionism, as Bruno Bettelheim thought, but that he was a closet case. (1993)

    My Father's Feet
    By Dale Peck

    What we haven't talked about during my trips home is the fact that I'm gay. At first we didn't talk about it because I hadn't told him and I think we both realized there was nothing worth talking about until I did; and after I came out to him three years ago we didn't talk at all because my step father has forbidden me from telling him anything about homosexuality, and I think we both realize that until I do we have nothing, really, to say to each other. It was during the last of these nighttime visits, this past Christmas, when I went home for the first time inn three and a half years, that I realized I hadn't seen my father's feet in nearly a decade, and I wondered then how this man who's known me since I was born, since my mother died, since he left his second wife, since his third wide left him, and since he married a fourth woman who wouldn't leave him, even if she wanted to—I wondered then how my father and I had grown so far apart. (1993)

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