|Posted on October 4, 2016 at 10:05 PM|
By Dennis Stone
When I was a kid I wanted to become famous through my writing. I dreamed of writing the great American novel, and becoming a respected author like the two heroes of my youth, Hermann Hesse and Aldous Huxley. I would write things that would awe people and open up new ways of seeing the world. Being famous for my words was a big part of the dream. (One might as well dream big!)
After college, life got in the way of my dream, except for some poetry that expressed my views on life and on a series of passionate infatuations. But the dream always lurked in the background of my consciousness.
I eventually discovered AfterElton, the much missed gay site that bucked the internet trend by being home to genuinely intelligent reader comments. Eventually the site tapped me to write some pieces for them, and my writing was finally exposed to the world. My pieces generated a lot of interest and controversy. Unfortunately, AfterElton soon changed names and directions, and my topical cultural writing was no longer wanted.
I then created this site with the help of two fellow AfterElton alumni, and we had a lot of initial success. Again, life intervened for all of us, work or school ate up too much time, and the site went on hiatus. Then, out of the blue, I was contacted by the editor of one of the world’s most prominent gay magazines and websites. He indicated he missed my “terrific” commentaries, and asked if I had interest in writing for him. Well, duh! Does a duck have an interest in having water to swim in?
We exchanged some emails, and he seemed like a really good guy. I indicated that my work situation would become much less strenuous in a few months, and I’d then be able to write articles. I ultimately submitted several pieces.
Alas, none of my pieces generated any response from the editor. I was and am disappointed. The most disappointing aspect was the lack of ANY response whatever. Even an acknowledgement of receipt or a one sentence email stating that my piece wasn’t suitable would have been appreciated. After all, HE had originally contacted ME, and basic etiquette and consideration should have mandated some response. But the line was dead.
So what happened? On a generalized high level I recognize that my outlooks don’t fit well into the traditional narrative of the gay media. I referred in a recent article to the “little black book of acceptable queer thought” that so many gay people, especially media and activist types, seem to consult to produce their opinions on gay issues. Their viewpoints are remarkably homogenous within a very narrow range. I threw out my little black book long ago. I often write pieces that contradict the mainstream views. For example, my piece on microaggressions. Or my piece on what I consider the faulty reactions of so many to the Orlando massacre. I always thought it was a longshot that mainstream gay media would publish my contrarian viewpoints. But, then again, the editor originally contacted me BECAUSE of the pieces - many of them contrarian - that I previously published on this site.
I think one of two things happened. It’s possible that Orlando hardened attitudes. Attitudes on all sides of all issues seem to have been hardening more and more as time goes by, and for gay people Orlando appears to have been a watershed event. My piece on how so many in the queer and progressive communities have misread the meaning of Orlando may have genuinely offended the editor and/or his co-workers. That incident exposed raw nerves for so many gay people, and they often responded out of pure emotion without the leavening of logical thought. My piece on that subject may have convinced people that my viewpoints are incompatible with the mission of the site.
I think it’s also possible that the “corporate overlords” of the site nixed the idea of publishing pieces that go outside the traditionally narrow outlook of the site. As I’ve said before, gay media is almost laughably one dimensional in viewpoint, reflective of what appears to be a quintessential example of “groupthink.” Though, to be fair, all “advocacy” type websites, from Fox News to Huffington Post, desperately need a wider variety of views expressed. Not going to happen, though.
Being famous, or even known, is no longer my “prime directive,” to borrow a phrase from the original “Star Trek.” Creating is the prime directive. Communicating is the secondary directive. Getting people to think in alternate ways, as opposed to following the “party line,” is also a secondary directive. I regret the opportunity to write for a larger audience, and to express opinions that are sometimes outside the mainstream of the typical gay media. But I’ll keep doing what I do, for the pure satisfaction that comes from doing it. Who knows what the future holds.
The dream is dead; long live the dream.