Friday, April 29, 2016

Queers & Class

Interior Designer Peter Marino

I have been thinking a lot about the relationship between gay men and class of late. When I first began meeting gay men as a young queer boy I was fascinated by the worlds they invented for themselves. There was something magical in how gay men reinvented themselves using a queer aesthetic to create new worlds. So much of what they created seemed so far removed from the worlds I knew and I was drawn to gay men who surrounded themselves with beautiful things. Think of Emory's quip in Boys in the Band, "Oh Mary, it takes a fairy to make something pretty." Why is it that gay men are so drawn to design, style and aesthetics? 

One of the most fascinating things about queer culture, at least the queer culture I knew, was that it allowed men of different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds to mix together. As a friend once stated there was no difference between a CEO and busboy at the baths, save how they wore their towels. Unlike most heterosexual worlds which rarely mixed outside of their socio-economic groups gay men were drawn together by desire. This meant often that what separates us in day to day life could disappear, especially when desire trumped social status. This was one of things I loved about queer culture, the ability to meet so many people from different ethic, racial and social backgrounds. 

At the same time while sex and desire created social fluidity there was also a desire by some gay men to reinvent themselves through their surroundings. This act of self-realization is a fascinating subject and it interesting how gay men craft environments that elevate and separate themselves from the world's from which they came. Many times I have been in queer homes and am pleased to see how a working-class gay men acquired the attributes of middle-class style in the name of taste. The same can be said for middle-class gay men who then acquire the style of those of the leisure classes. Of course the process is fuelled by the ability to cross social and class boundaries. After all because gay men meet through sex, they are able to see how the other half lives. At the same time there is a conscious cultivation of style and taste that is uniquely queer that shows up in gay male homes. 

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