The new mellow

Gay Pride Month came and went quietly for Daniel Reitz. He felt no obligation to march in the Gay Freedom Day Parade, no need to make a big political statement. Reitz figured maybe he felt this way because he identified with something called the “post-gay” movement and its premise that he and other gays “no longer had to make so much noise.”

Reitz wrote about what he called the new “gay mellowness” for Salon more than three years ago. But have things really mellowed for gays? AIDS remains a major concern, of course, but the outlook has improved with fewer deaths and prolonged lives through drugs. Discrimination still exists, certainly, but many feel that a high level of tolerance between gays and straights, especially in urban cities, now warrants a “mellowing” of the in-your-face attitude of traditional gay activists.

As writer R.V. Scheide discovered in his reporting for this week’s “Post-Gay” cover story, many Sacramento gays haven’t ever heard of the term “post-gay.” Some of those who have heard think “post-gay” signals a new apathy or reflects a basic weariness on the part of a group that has many battles yet to fight. Still, plenty of local gay men disclosed that they no longer identified with card-carrying, rainbow flag-waving members of the gay community. And almost all said they were tired of being defined by who they slept with instead of who they were.

Mellow or militant, post-gay or gay, liberation isn’t about definitions or correctness or one’s identity in any particular group. It’s about something Reitz wrote years ago—the freedom to figure out exactly who you are and be that.