When I was a 13-year-old closeted teen, afraid the world would discover that I liked men, I had very few outlets. Living in a post-totalitarian conservative country wasn’t easy, and I didn’t have anything to hold onto. That was, until the day I saw a film entitled The Living End.
The plot is simple. Two gay HIV-positive men kill a cop and have to run from the authorities in a fatalistic journey of hedonism. These men were angry, filled with despair, had roughly the life expectancy of a rodent, and yet they were not whining about it. They were flipping their middle fingers to the world and fucking bareback in trashy motel rooms.
I was immediately obsessed. I had to watch more. Poison, Paris is Burning, My Own Private Idaho, and even Go Fish. In all of these amazing films, the protagonists were not seeking approval or inclusion. They were looking at a society which viewed them as deviants and queers and screaming “fuck you” back to it, all the while fucking each other.
Queer cinema was not about married same-sex couples with a furry pet in the suburbs. It was the disenfranchised, the freaks, and the non-apologetic crowd of queers that served no purpose other than to be themselves. It was nihilistic, pointless, and fucking fabulous.
So, what do a bunch of indie films from the early 90s have to do with current third-wave feminism? Well, nothing and everything. Third-wave feminism represents the opposite of what queer culture used to be about. Living on the edge, surviving without help, failing in doing so on occasion, but never—not even for one second—ceasing to be yourself.
You might notice that I am talking about queer culture in the past tense. This is because queer culture, the one that I love, the one which helped me cope, is gone. It was replaced by a group of privileged, entitled, mostly white people who use it as a vessel to search for oppression.
The key difference is that they are not oppressed, and as much as I romanticize the idea of reckless fucking and drug use without any regard for the status quo, it is not something I chose. It is also not something that most gay people in the early 90s would have chosen. Being gay meant abuse, rejection, and the possibility of contracting an incurable disease which could lead to a horrendous death.
Now I am surrounded by entitled feminists who are declaring themselves the moral owners of a cause that has been reduced to political correctness. Now, being the biggest “freak” means that when people ask you why you dye your pubes in three different colors, you can scream “homophobe” or “transphobic” at them, forcing them to learn your 14 syllable long gender designation and made-up sexual orientation.
This is not being transgressive, or rebellious, or special. This is what entitled and boring people—who do not deserve the fucking honor of being part of the insanely wonderful clusterfuck that is queer culture—interpret as edgy and rebellious. It is nothing more than a bad interpretation of a sentiment their minds could not begin to understand, because the characters in those films, the people who created them, and the fabulous freaks who inspired them, would never attempt to garner pity. They would never apologize to someone above them in the oppression hierarchy, and they would never forge an image or a word as an identity. We are queers, we are the way that we are, and if you don’t like it, you can suck my dick. That’s it.
So, next time you see an attention-seeking, ultra politically correct, demisexual, non-binary person (*woman), as difficult as it is, know that beneath the layers of bullshit, pity, and entitlement, she is mimicking something wonderful, something which she cannot truly comprehend, and something that saved my life.
Gay people cannot be oppressed forever, and the “freaks” will eventually be called out on their nonsense and forced back to living with their parents in the suburbs, but the sentiment will never die. I will never apologize for who I am, nor will I apologize for recognizing what these people are not, and they are not queer.
They will never be.
Tomás Allende is a biochemistry student from Chile. He is gay and he guesses that is ok. Allende is an an avid cinephile, scientist, former vegetarian, and overall curious mind. He describes himself as a perpetual student trying to break out and find his place in the world.