An unnerving sociological event takes place at the homosexualist film festival right after movies that only aging gay males can relate to. I witnessed it three times this year – at We Were Here, a manipulative AIDS documentary that treats ravaged PWAs like Holocaust victims; at Making The Boys, a zippy and informative documentary about The Boys in the Band that keeps the timeline crystal clear; and at Florent: Queen of the Meat Market, about the restaurant whose ads I kept reading in Spy.

We walk out of the cinema in each case and find ourselves, to our bewilderment, surrounded by other guys our age. Who are these people? Where did they come from? Half of them, grouped in twos or threes, are talking to the friends and/or lovers they came to the movie with. They aren’t looking around much. Singletons keep a nice comfortable buffer of empty space around them.

It’s overwhelming because we’re suddenly reminded of how many of us exist. There are tons and tons of us in this town – and we’re looking at just the stratum that can afford, or at least self-justify, $14 tickets at a film festival. But how are we ever going to meet these guys? This is the only time we’ll ever lay eyes on them, nothwithstanding the point that nobody’s making eye contact.

Put a hundred atomized old gay males in one lobby and suddenly we all realize how old and atomized we really are. We won’t be getting any younger once we head home, but the atomization problem, unlike aging, is not a case of rust-never-sleeps. We’ll stay exactly as isolated as we were before we showed up for the movie. Except now it’s worse because we know how many others just like us there are.

I saw, standing by himself, that tall, ever-smiling black community organizer (the one who, true to form, has a white lover); the board chair of that beleaguered annual festival; and legions of bald guys who were either rail thin, built like a brick shithouse, or 30 pounds overweight. Recognizable types divvied up into single-serving packets.

The higher echelons within this high echelon (this is indeed a gay-money test case) will go back to their semi‑ or fully-detached houses in good neighbourhoods and the nice daily to-and-fro they enjoy with their heterosexualist neighbours and their endless children. They will return to socializing with nice straight people of like class, a habit that, up to this point, they could tell themselves represented a triumph of integration. More like assimilation. Another way to look at it is estrangement from your own kind.

My esteemed colleague says socioeconomic status is the main driver here, but my complaint is structural: Where exactly are we supposed to go to meet each other? If you’re a “questioning” youth or a water-polo player or some kind of tranny who needs testosterone in your ass on the government dime, there’s a nice welcoming place for you in “our diverse communities.” If you’re of the generation that made gay Toronto, the generation that was affected by the bathhouse raids of 1981 or was actually there, you’ve got nothing. And that’s what you’re worth.

See you next year. We won’t acknowledge each other then, either.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2011.06.04 15:02. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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