Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Rachel Maddow Phenomenon and Post-Gay America

In yesterday’s posting on the baby-boom generation, I said,

The people most resistant to the idea of gay rights in the latter decades of the 20th century have been not precisely the religious right, but baby boomers. The very people who themselves benefited from the sexual revolution of the 1960s, insofar as that revolution opened the door to women and to heterosexual couples. Having gotten what they needed from the 1960s cultural revolution, they turned around and decisively slammed the door in the faces of their gay brothers and sisters, while taking full advantage of their own sexual revolution.

The Clintons are the face of a whole generation of people in that respect.

And here’s what Jonanna Widner has to say at Alternet today about the reception of lesbian television journalist Rachel Maddow by that same suburban baby-boom generation:

As Maddow's star has risen, so has the number of editorial inches dedicated to her story. While they don't exactly gloss over her sexuality, most treat it as a sort of incidental factoid, akin to, say, her love of classic cocktails. It's as if we've skipped straight to postgay, without the benefit of the attendant political and social gains, which doesn't make any sense. How can we be postgay, for instance, in a society where Prop 8 passes? How can we be postgay when Rick Warren gives the invocation to an inauguration that's supposed to be about "change"? How can we be postgay in a world where Ann Coulter even exists? But there's a subtler bit to explore. If we're so very post- gay, why does delving into some of the gayer aspects of Maddow's life seem, on the part of mainstream media, verboten? (here).

As Widner concludes, if we let Maddow's marvelous popularity delude us into thinking we've arrived at a post-gay culture, we'll deceive ourselves and ignore the long road we still have to go towards respect, justice, and full inclusion of gay and lesbian human beings in our culture.