Page 395 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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Jack Fritscher              Chapter 15                       377


                People mouth the word Stonewall like a magic pebble on their tongue,
             but the invocation of Stonewall and who threw the first brick is meaningless
             if analysts, critics, and historians dismiss the 1970s decade of post-Stonewall
             literature and culture as ten years of gay juvenilia based on gay bacchanalia
             when that decade was, in fact, an important stratum in the long history of
             gay archeology.
                If the Stonewall standard of measurement is legitimate, then serious
             scholars cannot pretend—like righteous sex bigots who hate the 1970s for
             “causing AIDS”—that worthwhile gay culture and gay literature only began
             after the advent of HIV in 1982, or when actual gay book publishers first
             started up in the mid-1980s. In American literary evolution within mass
             media, gay magazines were the first voice of gay culture for more than
             twenty years before GLBT book publishing began in earnest.
                As a young university professor experiencing sexually, and esthetically,
             the rise of modern gay civilization during the revolutionary 1960s, I trav-
             eled across the globe to visit other cradles of queer civilization and culture.
             I had been taught the principles of cultural relativity by my mother who
             grew up as an amateur archeologist digging for ancient arrowheads, clay
             pots, and river pearls in her birthplace of Kampsville, Illinois. That vil-
             lage is wedged between the converging Illinois and Mississippi rivers on
             the delta which archeologists term “the Nile of North America” because it
             is the site of twelve Native American civilizations dating back to 7000 BC.
             She taught me, born only fifty miles away, that the information—in those
             ancient burial mounds’ archeology—was not just about linear dates but was
             also about relative and cultural behavior. One type of arrowhead, like one
             type of gay magazine or book, may follow another in time, but what do their
             comparison and contrast tell about causality and the identity of the makers?
             Drummer, with its 214 issues streaming for twenty-four years to millions of
             readers, may very well be the Nile Delta of Gay Leather Culture.
                In the dolmans of Ireland, the catacombs of Paris, and the ruins of
             Rome, I have seen stonewalls of early civilizations as telling as the archeo-
             logical debris left standing in San Francisco on the site at 4  Street and
                                                                  th
             Harrison where the artist Chuck Arnett’s seminal Tool Box bar once stood,
             or in New Orleans at 141 Chartres Street where the Upstairs Lounge stood
             until set afire by an arsonist in a blaze that killed thirty-two patrons, or in
             Greenwich Village at 53 Christopher Street where the Stonewall Inn itself
             remains as a kind of gay Parthenon. Stonewall is one of the more important
             surviving snow globes of modern gay history.
                Reading our Stonewall decade’s tectonic feminism, masculinism, and
             humanism should be no less valued and valuable. A person ignores his own


               ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 03-16-2017
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