Friday, January 18, 2008

The Yuppification of Boystown: A sign of social progress or the degredation and dillution of a precious and unique culture

It occurred to me that this would be an apt topic for my first post here since Snark and I have been discussing it in the comments section of Youtube.

As I said in my intro, I am a "breeder" but I definitely don't color inside the lines. (I've long since given up on labels... I settled on Goth because I do favor black and I love the Goth attitude, and its a concept that people seem to be able to wrap their minds around. I wear what I want to wear, what looks good on me, what turns me or my wife on, etc, with little regard for traditional practices or custom.) I used to look forwards to trips to the Belmont & Halsted epicenter of "the rainbow kingdom" and especially Market Days as a chance to "let my freak flag fly," to wear my leathers and piercings loud and proud, etc.

One of my Market Days videos from 2007




But this year, I was sorely disappointed with it. I didn't see many piercings larger than 14 gauge belly rings sported by overly cheery and heavily pink clad girls. There were more baby strollers than leather collars.

The video which gave rise to our discussion was a frankly lazy and lame one I did by setting my camera on the dashboard of my car as I drove north on Clark through Andersonville and commented/kvetched/carped about things. From it you will doubtless advise me to keep my day job! But I don't have one other than studying for class, walking my dogs, and caring for wife, so there! *grin*



Our dialog on Youtube




SnarkAngel


A little prettier than "Granville," hey? But with it's yuppie-fi-cation comes a lessening appeal . . . well, for me anyway. LOL

Me


Its not my favorite place to "hang out" to be sure, but the yuppification of the southern end of the "Rainbow Kingdom" and especially Market Days is more concerning to me. In just the few years I've been here, its gone from being the Midwest's answer to Folsom or Burning Man to something wretchedly lame, tame, and vanilla. I saw more soccer moms and strollers than I saw nipple piercings and leather collars in '07. :<

BUT... Watch it bub, as people of your preference become more accepted and integrated into society, there might come a day when some are as boring and unimaginative as those of my persuasion who have neutered Market Days. *grin*

So where do the non-conformists go these days- breeders and otherwise- since Market Days has practically become a PTA party?

Snark


Trust me, I already know some of my preference who have become boring and unimaginative . . . UGH! HA! Market Days as a PTA party! Good one! We need to bring "Edgewater Days" back to Granville. It's been more than a FEW years back, but what madness!

Me


Still, your point is well made, but "same as it ever ways." Which ever subculture is deemed taboo and exciting draws people from the dominant culture... first for excitement and danger, then they start to overrun it, and finally it loses its distinctiveness. Its rather like fluid dynamics... water etc. will move across the concentration gradient until the concentration is equal on both sides.

The more permeable the barrier, the more quickly this happens, and happily for the state of our culture, the barrier between breeder and non-breeder has become quite porous in places like Chicago.

SnarkAngel



Trust me, I already know some of my preference who have become boring and unimaginative . . . UGH! HA! Market Days as a PTA party! Good one! We need to bring "Edgewater Days" back to Granville. It's been more than a FEW years back, but what madness

Me


Exactly... on the one hand, I'm glad that the stigma is lower, the barrier more permeable. On the other, I miss the distinct character the GLBTQ "ghetto." Everyone needs a place where they can let it all hang out without worrying about PTA types getting their knickers all wedged up!

So much our dialog on Youtube



Now, picking up where that left off...
1) I've heard stories about "Edgewater days" and been told that I would fit right in with my gothy nobifurcated regalia, but it had ceased to be by the time I moved here.

2) All distinct groups have gone through the process of assimilation. My parents' generation still lived in places where German was the language of the street. (Made it real fun during WWII, lemme tell ya! The feds were crawling all over those towns!)

This raises two issues in my mind... one practical, one more philosophical...
1) If you assume that having a distinct subculture and place to express it is an innately good thing (as indeed I do), then how is this maintained in our increasingly media driven, mobile culture?

2) Is there anything innate to engaging in homosexual acts, living the homosexual lifestyle, or having a homosexual identity which makes a person more colorful, creative, eccentric?

Since while I'm a misfit, I'm not a misfit in precisely that way, I won't answer that question as such- there are others here more qualified than I am to do so.
But since I've always been a misfit- from the time I was a tall boy in growing up Indiana who hated basketball onwards- I do have these observations:

- Once you break one of the major taboos of society, once you break one bond of conformity, it becomes much easier to break others. I think most people who are outwardly conforming and "vanilla" have a vivid albeit repressed inner life which could bloom and grow in the right environment. I have many a friend who's still a church mouse or who lives in less diverse parts of the country who envies me the freedom of expression and attire I now enjoy and express in Chicago as one no longer affiliated with or beholden to any particular church body. (One of my blog friends on Multiply, for example, has talked very openly about what its like to have tattoos and lives in the rural south. She doesn't have a fraction as many as my wife does, but she gets "preached at" constantly, and is unwelcome at most churches. ) (The photo is of us from a year ago, pre-black hair- showing off my wife's beautiful "stained glass window" half sleeve tattoo, one of what... 16?... that she has.)

- Cities and subcultures provide for a critical mass and affirming social environment which encourages the exploration and expression of the unconventional.

So... that's where we leave off, over to you all.
Have fun folks!

5 comments:

Gunga Dean said...

Andrew Sullivan calls it "The End of Gay Culture".

But I do miss the gay ghettos.

The Rug Goth said...

I've heard that too.

If we take as a given then that the gay culture is going to continue to be diluted and assimilated (as the distinctively black culture of the early 20th century before it... which I think is the most applicable analog) then... which subculture will the next to be the spice of the American pie?

I know many in the T/Gender Phreak community who would like theirs to be so, and point to the Queer Eye / Metrosexual fad as evidence of this. But I don't think so. I think Americans concepts of gender are still very rigid... as witness Ms Clinton's treatment by the public and press when she's wept, got a new hairdo, etc. Victoria's Secret sells "boyfriend" pants, sweaters, and panties, but I've yet to see a mainstream menswear catalog come out with "the girlfriend Teddy" or a nonbifurcated garment with the write up "The same sensual flowing fabric you love on her, but cut for a male's physique."

My best guess is... Moslem culture. If there's anyone in America suffering repression and prejudice today, its people of Middle Eastern ethnicity and the Islamic faith. People in this country know so little about Islam or Islamic culture... I bet if you took a poll on the street, not more than 1 in 100, maybe even 1 in 500, could identify Averroes ... a sadly similar few would know that the Western Renaissance was sparked, fueled, and based on translations of the Greek and Roman classics preserved and propagated by Islamic scholars whose universities flourished during our "Dark Ages."

SnarkAngel said...

Rug Goth said: "I think most people who are outwardly conforming and "vanilla" have a vivid albeit repressed inner life which could bloom and grow in the right environment."

I tend to agree with this. The problem is, people are so programmed into "conformity" by society at large (well, suburban white bread society, anyway), from an early age. I spent my high school years in that type of oppressive environment. Thank goodness for a college education, much of it in liberal arts. My life turned out NOTHING like I originally expected it would . . . THANK GOODNESS!!!!!

Bottom line . . . "pack mentality" tends to rule, whether it be within a minority ghetto, or white bread America.

As with any minority community, assimilation depends largely on the gradual acceptance of the greater, majority community at large. The gay community of Chicago, over the last couple of decades, has experienced much of that process. And as with any minority community, there are those who will choose to remain in "the ghetto," until the ghetto becomes indistinguishable from its surrounding areas. And there are those who will venture into city AND suburban neighborhoods of their choosing. When I first moved back to Chicago, Boys Town was THEE choice. For me, I felt there was no other option. A few years later, I was coupled up and living in Rogers Park. Meanwhile, the yuppies who think they're being "open minded," "progressive," and "tolerant" will move into "the ghetto" and will proclaim themselves to be perfectly happy, until one of the nightclubs gets too rowdy and noisy and wakes up their 6-month-old baby at 2 a.m.

The Rug Goth said...

I grew up in Indiana Snark, about as white and conformist as can be... tell me about it. When I didn't want to play basketball, I might as well have renounced Jesus Christ.

What you're describing with the yuppies who are supposedly so open minded is happening all over the place, from Halsted & Clark all the way up by us in Andersonville. At Market Days this year, several vendors of shirts were taken to task... by the ORGANIZERS... because their shirts might offend the baby stroller crowd.

I just wish we could declare a "wedgie free zone" somewhere so anyone who wants to let their freak flag fly can do so without fear of ninnies soiling themselves. I've managed pretty well up here, people grok "goth" so I can pretty much do or wear anything so long as it has a gothy overlay (black hair and eye shadow, etc), but...

SnarkAngel said...

I'm an eyeliner fan, myself.

And yes, I heard about the "market days" t-shirt controversy. It didn't surprise me. "Market Days" is all about, for the most part, the almighty dollar. Now that the yups are there, their coins are just as good as the homo coins. I'm just so sick and tired of people being offended by the least important shit . . .