Tuesday, October 21, 2008

homopartisan/ bipolitical

Laden down with Obama paraphernalia, I look like a cross between a boyband groupie and a zealous attendee at the Democratic National Convention (all I’m missing is a straw boater). It is not the most stylish look, I suppose; it’s like wearing all of your jewelry at once. But I’m very proud of these particular Obamamania items that I purchased through the “Runway For Change” kiosk of the store at barackobama.com. Designers ranging from Alexander Wang (“Change” racerback tanktop) to Derek Lam (red-white-and-blue floral Obama tote) to Vera Wang (grey “vote” tee with an adorable cartoon girl) contributed works to benefit the Democratic ticket, and with a price tag that averages at about $60, they are quite irresistible.

I’m wearing a pink Obama t-shirt designed by Costello Tagliapietra, the gay bear-duo known for modernist versions of Halston jersey dresses (they also contributed to the costumes Elizabeth Berkley wore in one of my favorite films, Showgirls, so you know in me they have a lifelong fan). The t-shirt is pink, and it works an LGBT riff upon the now-iconic Obama campaign logo: the red-white-and-blue striping of the horizon in the “O” becomes a rainbow; the two “A”’s in “OBAMA” become inverted pink triangles. I love the tee because it reintroduces the 90s symbols of gay political activism that I grew up with, which made me strong, and which have now become kind of corny. Layered over the context of Barack Obama’s campaign, however, they look quite chic. (Still—because the tee is pink, I had to punk it up and slice off hems; otherwise I looked like a cat lady wearing a shirt depicting fuzzy kittens in a basket...wait, I used to have one of those shirts, too!!)

The other item I’m holding is a canvas tote bag from Marc Jacobs. The back declares: “MARC JACOBS (HEARTS) BARACK OBAMA.” The front yells out: “OBAMA ‘08” in eight convention-styled buttons, each bearing a letter in the signature typeface of the Marc Jacobs brand. Sadly, as you can see in this photo, I, just this afternoon, lost the tail “A” button while leaving the office. I was so distraught I even backtraced my steps to find my “A”: no fish. Oh well. Perhaps the lost “A” was a bittersweet blessing: I decided to replace the lost “A” with a pink triangle button. I guess it is appropriate for me, a gay democrat supporter of Obama, to lose an “A” and replace it not with a scarlet letter of shame but a pink new wave typeface of activism. I like the way that the pink triangle--a reclaimed symbol of gay people's abjection and marginalization, now can be imagined as a typeface contributing toward a NATIONAL identity that is not only more "inclusive" or "tolerant," but re-defined as powerfully past definitions.

My sexuality has always informed my politic, but something strange has happened to me in the past few months: my politics are shaping my sexuality...and I like it.

It’s not like I’ve lost my sex drive; it’s just become unrecognizable. I don’t see that as a bad thing. I think of it as: the world has come along and shifted in a way that pushed the reset button on what and how boys turn me on. Of course, a cute boy will always make me happy, but if they do not provide me with a certain palpable energy outside of the bedroom that integrates with the zoom created within, I will lose interest.

OK that’s nothing new...I’ve always been like that: lesbian. But what’s new is that the energy that the male creates in the external, nonsexual world will influence, or perhaps dictate, the terms of the zoom. For me recently, that has been politics. I’ve always wanted my boyfriends to share my political beliefs, but it’s been a separate issue from the visceral pleasure I would seek in him. No longer; politics have become the medium of emotionality for me.

This past Sunday, I watched the extremely thoughtful and moving endorsement given by General Colin Powell for Barack Obama, and I felt the kind of tearstained emotional movement that I can only metaphorize as postcoital. See if you feel it:

Powell is obviously a problematic and complicated figure, the least aspect of which is that he is African American and a post 20th Century Republican. But what was so moving about Powell’s endorsement of Obama: Powell spent seven minutes on his endorsement, to Tom Brokaw, without once looking down at notes, speaking with utter calm and seriousness. He did not grin the emotionless grin of professional politicians. In spite of his utter stone-butch sobriety, his message was loving, because he was melancholic with disappointment: the radical conservatism of the Republican party—“his” party—had let him down, and now, he was going to be a switch-hitter. But I loved it that after the interview, he told reporters that he still considers himself a Republican. Angry HuffPosters aside who want him to officially “become” a Democrat, I thought, “Well, of course he is Republican. And he ought to be.” Powell, like similarly handsome Chuck Hagel, is a bipolitical.

I think of bipolitical as different from “bipartisan.” I think bipolitical might be the new bisexual: there is something terrifically attractive about someone switching sides...to my side, of course. Now, “bipartisanship” is talked about as if it were the manna from heaven—this idea of people from opposing political parties working together. What would a “homopartisanship” look like? Being true to only your party? But that concept already takes a word; it’s called “partisanship.” So, as usual, attaching the word “homo” to the flesh of a word gives it a nice dirty erotic connotation. Maybe “homopartisan” is not just loving your team just because it is your team but because you love your team as you would love a lover: he is messy, you might not always agree with him, but you know his heart is in the right place, and you’re gonna keep trying to change him until he gets it right...and treats you right (perfectly).

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