The weather has gotten nice in my city and I've been spending a lot more time walking around, taking in the sites, and observing the world around me. One thing that is sticking out to me more now than ever is queer culture. There are a lot of young, queer men and women walking around wearing very fashionable clothing, with designer dogs, and just generally appearing privileged. Most of them are white.
For the first time, I am really bothered by this. I have this terrible gut feeling that the ability to be out of the closet and queer comes attached to the privilege of having the financial resources to live in the core of a city, in the seat of local high culture. It seems like the proportion of out individuals in the city is way higher, creating the false illusion that there are way more of us than there otherwise would be, and this is because those queer people who can afford it are literally cramming into the city, no matter what the price, because it is being treated as a safety zone for outness. Once I leave the city and travel to the suburbs or small towns, you hardly ever see anything or anyone visibly queer. The suburbs near me are associated with families, minorities, and poverty, and I can't shake this feeling that in order to be included in any kind of queer culture, you have to struggle to make it to the city. If you can't afford it, then you can't participate.
I remember in Anita Sarkeesian's analysis of the Hunger Games movie, she blasted it for portraying queer culture as restricted to the bourgeoise only. I agree with her, but I think it's an actual reality in the non-fictional world... and for the first time in my life, I am feeling really depressed about it because of how it is limiting my choices as a queer man.
Every queer guy I have dated who is from a smaller place proclaimed that he got the hell out of there a.s.a.p because it was backward, discriminatory, there were no dating opportunities, and it was boring. This issue is very near and dear to me right now because I am increasingly unhappy in the city. Aside from being unfairly expensive, I don't find it peaceful anymore. I'm having the urge to move to a smaller town where I can enjoy nature, a closer knit community, and maybe even partake in some small scale farming. My main fear though is being cut off from queer culture. My straight friends who are also thinking about moving have no qualms about this, because they can find potential partners anywhere; they don't seem to understand my dilemma of ending up somewhere I could potentially be single for the rest of my life, with no partnering opportunities.
Those lack of opportunities have been problematic when I travel in general. Every place I go to, I have to consider what their laws are about queer people. I was about to relocate to Belize for half a year until I discovered that homosexual acts carry a 10 year prison sentence. In my own country, such laws don't exist, but the prohibitive discriminatory culture still does, and so this affects my living opportunities. I wish my straight friends could really appreciate this. They think I'm being closed minded, but I'm not. There are smaller places where I could literally become a pariah if I'm not careful, especially given that I am also a self-employed small business and my reputation matters.
So given that, my other question is: are queer people forever destined to be forced to live in cities if they want visibility, relatable culture, and inclusiveness? If I want to hold my male partner's hand walking down the street, should I expect to only be able to do this safely in the "safe haven" of queer cultured cities?
Even worse, is the acceptance of queer people based strictly on these liberal cities? Because it seems like everywhere else, we are still barely tolerated, or even hated.
I don't have the educational background to fully express my entire view on this, but I'm hoping some of you do...
The artist's job is not to succumb to despair, but to find an antidote to the emptiness of existence. -W.A.