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Oasis
June 29, 2003 7:30 PM   Subscribe

Oasis: a writing community for queer and questioning youth. Happy biggest ever Pride Day from Toronto, everyone!
posted by stonerose (12 comments total)

 
Okay, I'm probably going to get flack for this one, but why do we need "x" literature? As I see it, literature has always been literature.

How much trouble would I get in if I started a site for "straight" literature, per se.

I have never been homophobic or racist by any means, but it's always baffled me how groups complain they are not "treated the same as everyone else" yet they insist on separatist labels.

Or, then again, maybe it's just me...
posted by Samizdata at 10:29 PM on June 29, 2003


I think that there are plenty of 'straight literature' publications around. Look at Playboy, Maxim, 17, or Redbook for examples of 'straight' magazines. I don't think you'd get in any kind of trouble at all.

I don't think you quite understand what Pride is responding to. The idea is to create, for a while, a space in which the GLBT community can come together be themselves and not have to worry so much about the persecution that so often is thrown their way. It is a stand against an oppressive society. I don't know if you realize this, but since 1991, violent crime against gays has more than tripled, while violent crime in general has actually declined. In a perfect world, terms like 'gay' or 'straight' wouldn't have any cultural significance beyond their descriptive purposes. But in the world we actually live in, there's a huge amount of anti-gay hatred, and ignoring it is not the way to make it go away. The idea of Pride is to let people take a look inside the gay community and say 'Oh, maybe these aren't the satanistic pedophiles we thought they were.'
posted by kaibutsu at 11:11 PM on June 29, 2003


Hey, I remember Oasis; I didn't know they were back up. (Actually, I was relieved when the servers got trashed; it wiped out a horrifically embarrassing essay I wrote as a horrifically uncomfortable, angst-ridden 17-year-old.)

The idea of Pride is to let people take a look inside the gay community and say 'Oh, maybe these aren't the satanistic pedophiles we thought they were.'

Meh. Maybe in theory, but -- at this point in history, at least -- the idea of Pride is really to get out and have fun and not be self-conscious (full disclosure: I'm actually bi, not gay, so my personal experience may not be as relevent as it could. I've also...uh...never actually been to a parade or anything. add bushels of salt liberally). In the process a few people go over-the-top and probably end up supporting stereotypes and generally making the gay community look worse than it already did, but it's worth it. As always, the onion does a better job explaining this.
posted by Tlogmer at 12:58 AM on June 30, 2003


(shrugging)

Maybe I'm overly progressive or just blind, but I've never looked at my gay friends as anything other than friends, just like my Hispanic friends are friends, my male friends are friends and so on.

My original comment was not on traditionally straight literature, but a school of literature specifically labeled as "straight" literature. I would imagine that would evoke some degree of controversy, as well as accusations of intolerance. However, should I pick a minority to write for or study, I am being enlightened.

The whole point of my earlier post was nothing to do with embarrassment or violence, but labelling and the ensuing separation of groups.

For example, I don't see such a thing as a x-American. If you live in America, you're American. It's okay to have pride in your background, but you are fundamentally an American. (It's not like most of us didn't come from somewhere else in the first place.)

Truthfully, I sort of resent the implications in your post, Kaibatsu. Perhaps I didn't make myself clear in the first post, but, as long as people decide to label themselves as other than the norm, they won't be the norm. I'll never advocate violence against any group, as generally, to paraphrase, it is the last resort of the incompetent and moronic.

And, FWIW, you said satanic pedophile. I didn't.
posted by Samizdata at 3:15 AM on June 30, 2003


Samizdata, I think there are many normal ways to be human that aren't "the" norm. If you can think of a group (e.g., women, blacks, immigrants, natives, amputees), you'll probably find an associated literature written by members of that group, trying to figure out what their group status means.

You seem to have difficulty with the idea that people can express themselves (harmlessly) and expect to be viewed as members of a greater whole, in spite of the differences they express. Why should it be incumbent upon me to stifle my differences, rather than on others to accept them?

As for Oasis, what's most interesting about it is simply that it serves as a community in which queer/questioning youth can share experiences and ideas through writing.
posted by stonerose at 5:20 AM on June 30, 2003


The whole point of my earlier post was nothing to do with embarrassment or violence, but labelling and the ensuing separation of groups.

Sure, and that's exactly what I was trying to address: Pride and events like it are largely responses to a cycle of embarrassment and violence, not a celebration of the 'separation' of the GLBT group from the rest of society. I'm not saying that you are a hateful person, just that there's a certain ignorance to saying 'Oh, my gay friend shouldn't talk about his gay-ness since he is just a person like everybody else,' when it is known that such people are being beat the shit out of in parking lots across the country for being gay. I mean, there's ample reason to believe that the head-in-the-sands approach to hate crime is not a working solution: Look at the American South before the civil rights movement, with all of its beatings and lynchings and the tendency of 'refined' people to just look the other way. It's the same kind of scene.

No one should have to live in fear of midnight beatings in the 7-11 parking lot. How do you propose to end such fears?
posted by kaibutsu at 6:48 AM on June 30, 2003


Okay, at exactly what point was I not being accepting in my earlier posts, by accepting a person as a person, not as a black person or a gay person or some such?

So, let me get this right... If I decided to write "straight" or "white" literature, that's fine by you?

And I never asked someone to stifle their differences. The whole point of my earlier posts was that self-labelling inhibits acceptance by creating artificial boundaries.

At this point, I think I'll end my part of the conversation, since I am apparently completely intolerant and my viewpoint of "one people, so to speak, is obviously conducive to late night convenience store violence...
posted by Samizdata at 12:51 PM on June 30, 2003


So, let me get this right... If I decided to write "straight" or "white" literature, that's fine by you?

Of course it is. Have at it. As already pointed out to you, Hugh Hefner seems to make a marginal living publishing what is obviously "straight literature" (Disclaimer: I only read his magazine for the pages and pages of poetry.)

However, if your role models for "straight" or "white" literature includes reactionary, exclusionary bullshit by "authors" like Bill Frist or David Duke, expect to gain orifices ripped anew.

And such a horrible tragedy (nay, scandal!) in letters regarding this terrible "inhibited acceptance", as you put it, of "self-labeled" works. You know, labels like "women's literature", "Native-American literature", "Russian literature", "children's literature", "nineteenth century American literature". Why, thanks to such awful labeling, authors from E.B. White to Tolstoy to Whitman are today known as little more than nameless hacks and bigots.

How odd that some people would get so exercised over a label like "gay" literature, given all other literary labels. Now, why would that be?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 2:20 PM on June 30, 2003


If I decided to write "straight" or "white" literature, that's fine by you?

Well, you see, part of the problem is that "straight", "white", and (I'm going to add, for the sake of argument) "male" literature used to just be called "Literature", period. It was also known as the "canon of great books". The cultural mechanisms, many unconcious, by which this ranking was achieved, and the literature written by less powerful members of society defined as marginal, regional, "not about great themes", etc., have been explicated by many, and I won't try to recap them here. But it took members of groups of people other than straight (or seemingly so), white males to uncover, republish, study and insist on the value of the literature produced by those who had in common only that they were not white, straight males, and to figure out why this literature might be valuable, what it was good for. If you believe that literature is, in part, about deepening your understanding of yourself, and humanity as a whole, then it helps to have people writing about and from the culture which you share, especially if you are a member of a group marginalized in a culture which valourizes the writing of the previously mentioned white guys.
posted by jokeefe at 3:27 PM on June 30, 2003


Oasis looks like a great site, stonerose. And I think this post (formerlyscott's 'NYC Pride' on June30) may answer your original 'why' Samizdata.
I do some work with a nonprofit that provides anti-racism and anti-homophobia peer education to high schools. In a lot of cases there is no way some students are going to out themselves in class, let alone discuss their feelings openly. Sites like this give young people a place to be as anonymous as they want, yet offer a sense of community.
posted by spandex at 4:06 PM on June 30, 2003


At this point, I think I'll end my part of the conversation, since I am apparently completely intolerant and my viewpoint of "one people, so to speak, is obviously conducive to late night convenience store violence...

You're mis-hearing me, I think. My jovial tone doesn't come through the typewriter. I'm not saying you're intolerant; it sounds like you're perfectly tolerant. The violence I was illustrating is meant only to show that such violence is going on around us, regardless of whether you decide to adress or ignore it. I personally think that the more enlightened view is to acknowledge and deal with such extremes of violence rather than turning my head and hoping it goes away. My arguments were intended to try and bring your thinking around that way, but it seems you've mis-read them. For my lack of clarity, I apologize.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:24 AM on July 2, 2003


Kaibatsu:
Sorry, been a bit busy...

Apology accepted, especially as clarity apparently was not one of my hallmarks this discussion either. grinning

As I mentioned above, I have never advocated violence as an answer to anything, although I am not a pacifist. I am quite aware of homophobic violence, and do not find it appropriate, not do I expect it to vanish overnight in a magical burst of universal goodwill. I do, though, try to live my life in a tolerant and open minded fashion, and hope, among other measures, to inspire others to do so themselves.

fold_and_mutilate:

Of course, Hefner's not proudly labelling himself "straight" literature, which is my whole point. Keep in mind, I was not advocating tripe like Duke or Frist when I mentioned "straight" or "white" literature, but rather was speaking in a nebulous, vague way. I am sure that some of the other "labelled communities" have voices within them that the rest of the community would rather weren't there.

I am a bit disappointed however in the cliche that those that object loudest to a topic are obviously secretly attracted to it. I've not seen any topics for a while on other "grouped" literature, so this simply made an appropriate jumpstart.

Spandex:

Understood. That is a sad truth indeed. I suppose I hope for a world when a thoughtful grouping of words about a topic can be called literature and no more.

jokeefe:

Understood also. Please refer to the above responses, as I hope they clarify my point a bit more.
posted by Samizdata at 10:17 AM on July 4, 2003


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