Blogs by Bill Brent
BOOK REVIEW -- The Tragedy of Today's Gays, by Larry Kramer
8/18/2005 10:27:22 PM
TOO IMPORTANT TO IGNORE, YET TOO FLAWED TO ACCEPT WHOLESALE
I feel Larry Kramerís pain. Really, I do. I've seroconverted. I'm a recovered crystal meth abuser.
What I donít understand is his insistence (repeatedly!) that gay men are smarter, funnier, and otherwise superhuman compared to the rest of society. He invokes this mantra incessantly, which probably plays better live than in print. (The core of this book is a transcripted speech). In this important yet flawed work, it sounds as if Mr. Kramer is still trying to convince himself that his idealized vision of gaydom is accurate. It isnít. Clearly Kramer is one of gaydomís Ubermenschen, yet the gay mediocrities vastly outnumber the gay heroes, at least in todayís gay America.
Itís an eons-old belief that if you say something often and vigorously enough, then it will become so. This is at the foundation of magical thinking. At the positive end of the spectrum, we see this reflected in systems like Norman Vincent Pealeís ďThe Power of Positive Thinking.Ē At the other extreme, however, such magical thinking is dangerous and delusional, or at least counterproductive.
I agree with Kramerís assertion that feeding the hungry ghosts of hedonism is eating gay men alive. So be it.
All the wishing and insisting in the world cannot change the fact that thousands if not millions of gay Americans are selfish, ruthless, complacent cows. No amount of tantrum-throwing or consciousness-raising will goad such self-destructive adolescents in adult bodies out of their narcolepsy. Fine, I say.
Let them die off as soon as possible, then, and let us dispose of the bodies with as little fanfare or breast-beating as possible. Meanwhile, let us hasten to make space for the brightest and bravest, and throw our collective weight behind those cultural warriors. Stop wasting precious time and energy trying to convince a pack of losers of the error of their ways. Instead, as Kramer does imply, letís establish more competitions, scholarships, endowments, and other gay institutions designed to foster and reward real achievers.
No amount of wishful thinking or screaming at a spiritually sick and twisted man will get him into recovery until he is willing to take the necessary step of raising his hand, asking for help, and making a real commitment to the ongoing task of change and inner growth.
Evolve or perish. Same as it ever was, same as it will ever be.
So please, Mr. Kramer, stop repeating yourself, especially when youíre making sweeping generalizations about gaydom. It sounds like youíre praying to a lost god (or, more precisely, the ghosts of Gay Liberation past, may they rest in peace), and that simply doesnít support your case -- or, ultimately, your cause.
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