“We should no longer define ourselves solely in terms of our sexuality–even if our opponents do.”


Cover image for May 4, 2011

Civics / In a step beyond the notion of equal rights, discussion has turned toward human rights and what it means to enter the post-gay era in Hawaii. While clubs continue to host “Lesbian Nights” and gay circuit parties like the upcoming Paradise Festival, one can’t overlook the fact that gay parties rarely take place at such unexpected venues as Kualoa Ranch, Trump Tower, Aloha Tower and the Marriot, until now.

British journalist Paul Burston first coined the term “post-gay” in 1994 as a critique of gay politics. Four years later, Out magazine’s editor James Collard claimed in The New York Times that “We should no longer define ourselves solely in terms of our sexuality–even if our opponents do.”

In the article, Collard argues that post-gay isn’t un-gay; it’s about taking a critical look at gay life and no longer thinking solely in terms of struggle. “It’s going to a gay bar,” he says, “and wishing there were women to talk to.”

If Hawaii is moving beyond the closet (despite a persistent privileging of heterosexuality), we must also be acknowledging a significant shift from the “us versus them” diatribe to a conversation about a collective identity. Instead of drawing boundaries against groups (such as the Mormon Church and Sen. Mike Gabbard’s disciples), it might better serve the cause to build bridges toward them.

Post-gay sensibility arose in Honolulu when people voiced a preference of a mixed social scene; mixed clubs; a mixed plate, if you will, of polygender, polyamorous and multisex, or any category that reaches beyond heteronormativity.

Believe it or not, we’re entering a post-gay era. It appears that not all parts of the country are moving at the same pace, but even though Honolulu may be a decade behind the post-gay discussion, we will be in fact witnessing our first (legal) civil unions in a matter of months. Ten years ago it would have been unthinkable that the majority of the state would support civil unions, but today, one wonders if perhaps the future will see a rise in Hawaii’s “gayborhoods,” or rather witness the disappearance of gay bars into a social scene that is finally integrated.

The concept that people should be able to define their identities by something other than sexual preference is a reminder that the war on equality isn’t over. Those who continue to subscribe to the moral dogma of “faggot” and “dyke” will eventually be replaced by future generations who choose equality over bigotry. The post-gay era will eventually become post-something-else, and the haters will inevitably be left in the closet.

In this issue, the Weekly talks with Margaret Cho about her film Cho Independent and the upcoming Rainbow Film Festival. The recent reaction to Apple’s “It Gets Better” video that was pulled from YouTube due to “violent rhetoric” sparked an international reaction, and the fact that the campaign in Honolulu is stronger than ever speaks volumes about Hawaii’s queer and political condition–not only as a post-gay society, but as a society which historically rejected labels entirely.

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