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The End Of Gay Culture

In today's New York Times, Patricia Leigh Brown notes the cancellation of the annual Halloween party in San Francisco's Castro district as part of a broader trend of change in the legendary gayborhood's cultural identity. Half-million dollar high rises, Pottery Barns and progressive-stroller pushers reflect a cultural and demographic shift in Harvey Milk's old neighborhood, as the young gay population that once defined the Castro disperses to more affordable neighborhoods and smaller cities.

In a 2005 cover story for The New Republic, Andrew Sullivan noticed similar changes in Cape Cod's Provincetown as a microcosm for broader changes in the nation's gay culture. His piece maps the rise and decline of gay culture as a static identity in America's post-AIDS epidemic era.

Slowly but unmistakably, gay culture is ending. You see it beyond the poignant transformation of P-town: on the streets of the big cities, on university campuses, in the suburbs where gay couples have settled, and in the entrails of the Internet. In fact, it is beginning to dawn on many that the very concept of gay culture may one day disappear altogether. By that, I do not mean that homosexual men and lesbians will not exist--or that they won't create a community of sorts and a culture that sets them in some ways apart. I mean simply that what encompasses gay culture itself will expand into such a diverse set of subcultures that "gayness" alone will cease to tell you very much about any individual. The distinction between gay and straight culture will become so blurred, so fractured, and so intermingled that it may become more helpful not to examine them separately at all.

The rest of Andrew's excellent piece, "The End of Gay Culture," can be read here.

 --Marin Cogan