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Acceptance and Assimilation Breed Mediocrity

Question: Should gay identity be fully integrated into \r\nmainstream culture?

John Cameron Mitchell:  Well, I don’t know if the Radical\r\n Faerie thing is a, I’ve been to some gatherings, a lot of my friends \r\nhave been to gatherings, you know, friends live in this commune-like \r\nenvironment, I’m not so much hardcore into that, but I really \r\nappreciated that input in my life of people who think that your, you \r\nknow, queerness, which I define as not necessarily having to do with \r\nsexuality, you can certainly be straight and be queer.  To me, it’s like\r\n an understanding of the world that isn’t limited by received notions of\r\n genders.  Like looking at the world through a prism of understanding \r\nthe fluidity of gender and sexuality, which can manifest itself in humor\r\n and art, you know, sort of a queer sensibility, or it can also affect \r\nhow you look at, you know, the way you interact with the earth, you \r\nknow, with the world.  When you understand there’s a fluidity, perhaps \r\nyou integrate your life more with how, you know, perhaps interact in a \r\nmore sustainable way with the earth or, I’m not sure how that \r\nnecessarily transmits itself, but it does in the Radical Faerie movement\r\n or "community."

\r\nAnd so I learned a lot from people who lived in these communes, you \r\nknow, in the gatherings, they had kind a queer Burning Man feeling.  And\r\n it’s much less ageist and though it tends to be more men, I could do \r\nwith a more, with a more diverse, you know, diversity in gender.  The \r\nmore mixed a crowd, the better the party, you know, in terms of... \r\nbecause when there’s too many men in one space, you get too much of that\r\n energy, of sexual energy, or kind of competitive energy.  Just as too \r\nmany, perhaps too many women in a room, there’s a different, too much \r\nsameness doesn’t always make a good, you know, it’s not a good recipe \r\nfor balance.

But I do appreciate their understanding that, you \r\nknow, being different isn’t a privilege, you know, it’s not, I don’t \r\nnecessarily feel a pride in being different in that way, but there’s a \r\npride in what you do with it, you know?  And certainly shame can be, can\r\n rub off from culture and self-hatred can rub off from culture and fear \r\nof, you know, misogyny and femininity in men and, you know, all these, \r\nthese things that make you not like yourself when you’re young can’t, \r\noddly that separateness can be a great mine of material when you’re \r\nseeking to create yourself as an individual.  Unfortunately, the more \r\nacceptance there is, yes, there are fewer kids killing themselves \r\nbecause of the Internet and acceptance of gays in the world as a natural\r\n variation, but there’s also a real embarrassing kind of conformism that\r\n comes with acceptance.  You know, acceptance and assimilation, you \r\nknow, breeds mediocrity and perhaps an even more sheep-like, conformism \r\nin terms of what kind of music you’re supposed to listen to if you’re \r\ngay, what are you supposed to look like?  What’s your body supposed to \r\nlook like?  How are you supposed to have sex?  How are you supposed to \r\nvote—can get very boring and very, you get a lot of unexamined lives. \r\nAnd that’s unfortunately the result of assimilation and acceptance, but \r\nit’s one that has to happen if there’s to be more happiness, I think. 
\r\nBeing queer is not enough. Certainly it’s not interesting enough.  And \r\nthere’s probably, there’s a lot of great beautiful people in the world \r\nand good people.  But there’s fewer people that, that’s... maybe .001 \r\npercent that is actually interesting, whether they’re straight or gay or\r\n whatever, because they’ve chosen to forge their own way, examine their \r\nlife a bit more, and not settle.

Recorded on May 3, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen

"An embarrassing kind of conformism" comes with full LGBT assimilation into the mainstream, says the actor and filmmaker. "Being queer is not enough," he says "Certainly it’s not interesting enough."

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