Culture wars

Millennial snowflakes are ruining queer culture, college professor argues

“Queer culture. Is it endangered? Gasping its last? Just sad?” that’s what Cynthia Belmont, a professor at Northland College, wants to know.

Belmont teaches courses in feminist and queer theory. In a new op-ed published by Salon, she says in the last few years, she’s seen an uptick in students who seem to take offense at things that have defined LGBTQ culture for decades.

Take for instance, drag queens.

Belmont recalls a colleague who was recently scolded by a non-binary student for using the term “drag queen” to describe a self-identified drag queen who participated in the Stonewall riots.

“My colleague, who is 35, queer, and teaching Sociology of Sexuality, is informed that this is an incorrect and insulting term.”

Related: Conservative students fear colleges too liberal, wish they could be more racist and homophobic

Another time, Belmont says, she had students tell her they were “deeply disturbed” after watching a drag queen’s performance because she made comments they felt were “insensitive and triggering.”

I argue that it is the privilege of drag queens to ridicule, insult, and generally slay in all ways absolutely everyone in the name of humor — and that this privilege constitutes a moment of public power for a marginalized group. I say that there is empowerment in humor and in being able to take what the drag queen dishes out. They do not accept this explanation, failing to imagine how pointed insults could be acceptable in what is supposed to be a supportive community.

Gone are the days when queer culture was about being a rebel and challenging the status quo.

“I came up in the ’80s and ’90s, when queer culture was hot because it was outsider culture, and I liked it that way,” Belmont, who is 49, writes. “I liked the centrality of playfulness within this culture — the fact that we couldn’t take ourselves too seriously because, as with many marginalized groups, humor was survival.”

Survival in the face of the HIV/AIDs crisis, drug and alcohol addiction, and legalized homophobia.

Related: Are Politically Incorrect Gay TV Characters “Gaycist”?

These days, Belmont laments, queer culture has become all about bathroom wars and gender pronouns, and while she recognizes those things are important, it’s not the same as it was ten or twenty years ago, and it’s not cute.

Apparently, in the pursuit of rights and respectability, we have somehow shifted as a culture from the celebration of eros to the celebration of victimhood — to comfortably inhabiting a state of being prickly and appalled — and apparently we now have to be and feel like victims in order even to deserve rights.

“Being a victim,” Belmont says, “is not hot.”

She concludes by writing: “I won’t — I can’t — believe in the victim as the new face of queer culture. What were all those drag queens at Stonewall fighting for, anyway? If victimhood is hot, then we have lost.”

What do you think? Are millennial snowflakes are ruining queer culture? Share your thoughts in the comments…

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33 Comments

  • PRINCE OF SNARKNESS aka DIVKID

    Scylla and Charybdis, as far as I’m concerned.

    And anyone who uses “slay” like that should be drummed out of all educational institutions

  • PRINCE OF SNARKNESS aka DIVKID

    Drag queen culture is objectively shite. Cringey naff shite.

    As is the trigglypuffery BS

    • alanballs

      I’m grateful that I have no idea what you just wrote, because it feels snarky.. :)

  • Brody

    She’s in for a rude awakening when she realizes that identity-victimization is the bread-and-butter of the new, radical left.

    • DCguy

      That’s weird, because it isn’t the “Radical Left” that’s having a white power march in Charlottesville Va now is it?

      You know Mo Bro, you and all of your screenames make it very obvious that you are anti-lgbt trolls, shouldn’t you stop wasting time here and head over to Breitbart where you can cry about how easy minorities and lgbts have it and how tough life is for you because there aren’t separate drinking fountains anymore?

  • Donston

    I’ve never been that into drag queen “culture”. But she certainly has a point. I believe in giving everyone their respect. But the over-obsession with “proper labels”, how we are forced to indulge everyone’s egos and narcissistic instincts, how we’re not allowed to out people who are clearly dealing with serious mental problems and using their “queerness” to absolves them from that, how we’re not allowed to call out people who are using labels or behavior to manipulate others, how too many people feel comfortable being in a state of victim-hood and use their “queer” identities to establish that victim-hood. The focus has completely moved away from honesty, self-acceptance, self-understanding and helping each other gain a solid ego. People want desperately to be “complex”. People want to be cool. People want to be able to take offense to everything. And mostly damaging, people want to wallow.

  • KaiserVonScheiss

    Hilarious. This is the result of their philosophy. Fauxppression (faux oppression) is the new aristocracy for them. They all want to be offended or “triggered” by something so they can count up their oppression points for their new hierarchy.

    • DCguy

      You mean the way Trump supporters are all “Triggered” by things like….oh I don’t know….say, black people not wanting to get shot by cops, or gay people wanting to buy a cake from a public business?

      If you’re going to troll, you should not attack lgbts in every single post. It makes it easy that you’re just here to troll.

    • KaiserVonScheiss

      @DCguy

      Where have I attacked anyone’s rights? I’ll wait.

  • Heywood Jablowme

    Invite a drag queen to talk to these students and tell them a personal history. What’s the attraction of doing it, what’s the satisfaction of doing it, why is it a gay tradition, why is it fun to do, why is it fun for the audience? – etc. (Provide the students with the dictionary definition of “fun,” because it’s obviously a word they don’t know!)

    And if drag queen is an “incorrect and insulting” term, is there a PC term? How about “sartorially gender-fluid performer”?

    • ErikO

      Nobody cares about drag queens and despite how the media loves these walking bad stereotypes they should remain in the past with the boys in the band generation.

    • Josh447

      I just realized why drag queens exist, at least partially; they take up the slack of what the every day woman can’t say or do for fear of retaliation: All the pent up rage of being female in a patri society. No wonder drag queens play such raving cu+ts, they are constantly flipping off dom str8 men as total assholes. It’s a weird clue but seems viable. I do believe I just had a non-senior moment.

  • Herman75

    Blaming youth has been a bad habit since the time of Socrates. Can’t you miserable old farts give the young their space?

    • JaredMacBride

      Get off my lawn you punk.

    • jkthsnk

      What a whiny wanker you are. Thanks for proving Belmont’s point.

  • Danny595

    “Queer” is something invented in the 80s and early 1990s, when my parents were young. When Cynthia Belmont was young. Now Cynthia is old and salty because no one wants to follow her “queer” culture. Too bad Cynthia! You shouldn’t have called gay people queer in the first place.

    BTW, Stonewall was not a riot of “drag queens” or transgenders. God only knows what this lame “professor” teaches her students about gay/lesbian history.

    • Heywood Jablowme

      There’s no indication the students objected to her use of the word “queer.” If they objected to the word, no doubt she’d have said so.

      Indeed, one student apparently identifies him/her/their-self as “non-binary”! Which is just about the queerest term out there, except maybe for “gender fluid.”

      (You’re right about Stonewall though.)

    • ErikO

      Exactly, the Stonewall riots were caused by bisexual and gay male prostitutes, and some lesbians. Despite drag queens and trans people trying to claim that they were there, there’s no actual proof any of them were. “Queer” is a silly term and if you ask 100 people who identify as “queer” what it means you will get 1,000+ answers. I have also met quite a number of people who are heterosexual, not trans, and they identify as queer, which is something that’s odd. Or maybe they think it makes them edgy?

  • Kangol

    Yet another post by Graham Gremore in which someone is trashing gay millennials or gay people or gay something. This seems to be his (her? their?) bread and butter. OK, we get it. It’s Queerty clickbait (clickbate?), draws the right-wingers and homophobes out of the closet, and generates comments. But does it say anything positive or interesting about what large numbers of LGBTQ people are doing today? Oh, that’s right, you have to go to T O W L E R O A D or any number of other gay sites for that kind of news. Instead, it’s just recycled Instagram photos, negative posts about racial and ethnic minorities to stir up the rac!sts, paeans to washed up non-gay or play-gay celebrities, and goofy posts about Donald Trump that rarely discuss the truly horrible things he’s doing to LGBTQ people. Also, given the popularity of RuPaul’s Drag Race, do you seriously think most gay millennials have an issue with drag queens or kings?

    • DCguy

      I was just thinking that all of his articles are either about some fake “Straight” person who sleeps with gays, but of course is still “Straight” or an article about how terrible lgbts are.

  • Ummmm Yeah

    He’s right, except it’s gay culture.

    • ErikO

      What passes as a “culture” among gay men has been outdated for decades, and it’s silly how a lot of queens are STILL living like it’s the 1970s.

    • Ummmm Yeah

      Being sexless blobs and demanding as many different titles as the clown colors they dye their hair to be different like everyone else isn’t a culture despite what millennials think.

  • OzJosh

    Even the most shallow and cursory examination of “drag queen culture” reveals it to be deeply misogynistic, so it’s pretty hard to take seriously a female academic striving to defend it from criticism.

  • gmale

    The real reason for the current state of affairs in queer culture is that it has been appropriated by gay white men to create and perpetuate their own privileges and power structures.
    Since in America, marriage was considered a white male prerogative… gay white men being white men demanded that it be so for them as gays … as well and it has caused a general decline in gay culture. I don’t think gay white men necessarily intended it to be this way but invariably ended up making it so.

    • DCguy

      Awwww, somebody just got out of their first week of sociology apparently.

      So by your logic then, should the case of Loving vs. Va. never have been litigated? Did winning that case mean that African American culture declined?

      What happened was that one of the Federal laws on the books that specifically separated out lgbts as not having full civil rights was reversed. One of the results of gaining additional civil rights is that some of the strategies and mindsets that allowed people to survive when they didn’t have them disappear.

      Your comment would be akin to somebody saying that women getting the right to vote caused a decline in female culture.

  • alanballs

    These comments are just eye-popping…..I’ve not lived in the USA since 1989, and I’m so grateful for that. Where I live, ‘being gay’ (while not illegal, or punishable) is still very much buried by government and social status-quo. And, even though my BF and I do plan to get married in the USA someday, I have to say, I like it this way.

  • Xzamilloh

    You bettah tell it, Cynthia!!!! Do you see? There are those of us on the left who are tired of being swallowed up by this victim narrative and identity politics… we’re not even people anymore, we’re just levels of oppression and victim status.

  • Xzamilloh

    You bettah tell it, Cynthia!!!! Do you see? There are those of us on the left who are tired of being swallowed up by this victim narrative and identity politics… we’re not even people anymore, we’re just levels of oppression and victim status. Sad

  • Daniel-Reader

    Gay culture is different than queer culture. Drag queens are a tiny minority and independent of gay culture since you don’t have to be gay to be a drag queen. You can be trans or just a straight crossdresser. Drag queens are to gay culture what mimes are to French culture – part of it but not in a massive way. Seems like folks way up in North College at the tip of Wisconsin need to get out more.

  • Chris

    I remember drag queens and their performances from the times before Rue Paul’s shows homogenized drag into the notions that “it’s all drag” or all a costume and that the performance is the thing. At its best, drag provided a deep social critique dressed up as humor. When “edgy” straight folk went to a drag show, they saw gay folk (cause those are the terms we used back then), whether they liked us or not. ….. Drag shows confronted people, often to their faces because the queen got up in there, with irony about the contradictions of American culture. I remember one show where blond twink dressed up as Barbie, all in blue and blond hair, performing to “I’m a Barbie Girl,” on a stage scattered with dildos, leather, and other objects of vanilla and kinky sex. Her performance was hilarious but also troubling because it made explicit what had been camp in the song. To this day, many years later, I still remember another show that featured a very old queen, barely able to walk because of what AIDS had done to her, in what was announced as her last performance. To “I did it my way,” she sat at a table facing a mirror, and piece-by-piece, she stripped off her costume until the end, when he stood in front of the crowd in just his underwear. It brought the house down as we all recognized what we’d just witnessed. ….. Today, popular versions of drag focus on the glitter and its fierceness. But what I saw had an authenticity that combined biting humor, camp, and critique. I miss those shows; but I don’t miss those days.

  • Dave in Northridge

    Every 20 or so years we have this, um, discussion. Daniel Harris thinks Act Up ruined gay culture in the 1980s. Now the culprit is RuPaul. Maybe if we try to think of culture as something that’s evolving – but then we wouldn’t have articles like this and comments like these. I, for one, miss the gay bars and the gay bath houses that have been closed.

  • john.k

    As someone living outside the US and reading all of the above I have to say to Americans – chill, stop over-analyzing everything, have fun, life is short enough to not waste time getting upset over trivialities!

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