Gay writers, gay couples

This quote is coming at me from about ten different blogs this morning, and it obliquely illustrates a point I want to make about living in New York. Interviewed by Publisher’s Weekly, Michael Cunningham (writer of the book The Hours) discusses being labelled a “gay author”:

“What I do look forward to is the day when the notion of gay and lesbian books or a gay and lesbian section in a bookstore will seem as strange and old-fashioned as a section devoted to books by women or books by people of color. I’m more than ready for books to be on the shelves all together and for readers to be trusted to decide for themselves what books they want. For me and my friends, whether gay or straight, it’s never a question whether or not a book is by a gay writer or if it’s a story about gay people. We just read books.”

I’ve made a similar comment about seeing gay couples on the streets of New York. I never saw gay couples walking hand in hand in Indianapolis, for example, and I rarely saw it in Bloomington (and when I did, it was always lesbians–never gay men).

But gays in New York can be openly coupled no matter where you go (holding hands on the train, quick smooches in the bagel shop, cuddling in Starbucks), and I’m tired of thinking that’s significant or exceptional. I don’t see straight couples hand in hand and think, “Oh, how cool that they can be so open!” Similarly, I’m tired of thinking it’s exceptional to see interethnic couples together, especially now that I’m part of one myself. I don’t want to see a “gay couple” or an “interethnic couple”; I just want to see a couple.

I’m an idealist, of course, but I think all this should be wallpaper–something you see but never really notice because it’s just part of your daily life.

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