Small town gay social groups too closeted

By |2006-09-21T09:00:00-04:00September 21st, 2006|Opinions|

I have an opinion on gay “social groups.”
My mom and I were talking the other day about how silly “social groups” can be. My mom moved to this area from Phenix City, Ala., when she was just 15. She married a man and “settled” in a small town in southwest Michigan. There, she joined “Women of Society”(not the real name).
She described some of the charity work the women did. But what seemed more important to this group was the power to exclude. I immediately thought of so many gay social groups my partner and I have been a part of over the years.
Many of these groups seem to relish the idea of having a black-ball to drop on the poor unfortunate who has their teacup turned the wrong direction. They have themselves fooled into thinking that the whole world wants to be a part of their little faction, when in fact; most people don’t even know who they are.
I don’t know much about the “Women of Society,” but I do know a lot about the politics of small town gay groups. In my opinion, many of them have leaders who were raised in pre-Stonewall America. These are the people who will chortle to anti-gay jokes in their workplace. Many of these folks have grandchildren. Any pro-gay work they do is self-congratulatory, yet anonymous because they usually only have one eye peeking out of the closet. And they resent those of us who are out. This is the reason that their view of the gay word is basically what straight people see. They can’t see forward, and their horizon is only as big as the closet they have secured around themselves.
You know these people when they tell you not to bring a camera to their little fetes. They may ask your help, but your efforts better not put them in your shadow. They are limited by their paranoia, and since they are in the closet, they only have those of us who are “out” to punish.
My partner of 18 years and I have so many friends; it is pathetic to think we’ve ever wasted our time trying to satisfy the wicked “closet queens” who run these stupid groups. I have to wonder if they exist in big cities. We’ve never encountered these kinds of groups in L.A., Chicago, Detroit or Austin. But we have been witness or participated in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Corpus Christi. I believe it is a small-town phenomenon.
In real life, LGBT’s are faced with challenges each and every day. We must decide several times a day if we are going to act in or out of the closet. Some of us take a stand, and some are more passive. I don’t think it is necessary to be militant homosexual about every move I make. But it will be a cold day in hell when I allow a panel of closet queens to judge or extinguish my flame. I believe we should be fighting forward, not among our own ranks. So, I am saving my energy to fight for equality, even if it means I have to fight for those who scorn me.

Marshall Scott Reed
Kalamazoo

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Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.