Abraham Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party Queries U.S. History

Part One of a two-part article about homosexual identity

Today life's different. Gay is an identity, and a highly politicized, assertive one at that—an inevitable reaction to the millennia during which homosexual acts were stigmatized, outlawed, and persecuted, often violently. Every concern that gays might confront, from coming out to one's parents to becoming parents, has taken on an absolutist mentality, apparently subscribed to by both its adherents and those who wish they would disappear. The secondary cultural traits through which gays in the clandestine era once signaled their shared interest have become a kind of instant public shorthand. Quarterbacks who enjoy showtunes are instantly suspect; 10-year-olds with a gift for classical music conceal their interest for fear of being bullied at school. Future generations may come to regard our time's extreme emphasis on sexual identity as nearly equal in absurdity to the frantic hostility and repugnance that kept same-sex attraction clandestine in preceding centuries.

Part 2 of this article will appear in next week's issue.

Civil War? Try identity politics.
Carol Rosegg
Civil War? Try identity politics.

Details

Abraham Lincoln's Big Gay Dance Party
By Aaron Loeb
Acorn Theater, Theater Row
410 West 42nd Street, 212-279-4200

mfeingold@villagevoice.com

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