Assimilation and Its Discontents: Q-and-A with Justin Sayre on the State of Gay Culture

(By J. Bryan Lowder from
Bryan Lowder: David Halperin has this memorable line in his book How to Be Gay that goes something like: “gay men often don’t really deserve gay culture.” He means that though we are all associated with gay culture by name, many of us don’t live up to its promise. I wonder how you respond to a statement like that?

Justin Sayre: I think that gay people—gay men especially—are given a great choice in the world. They are able to see things from multiple vantage points, and that’s what has made them great artists for many centuries. The trouble with the current scenario is that the outsider vantage point is being described as “less than” rather than as an advantage. We live in a time when there is a huge push for assimilation, a push to be our fathers (even be our mothers) and to ignore the strength of our unique vision.
But still, to say that gay people don’t deserve their culture is a terrible thing to say. The interesting thing about right now is …
Lowder: What do you mean by “now?” Marriage equality? Just the general tendency toward assimilation with straight lifestyles and culture?
Sayre: Exactly. But what’s interesting about now is that within that trend, for the first time gay culture can be truly about gay people….
full interview here