Oh, New York Magazine. We have a long history together, don’t we? I remember the first time I really noticed you, five years ago at the New York Public Library. I did a double take when the issue that laid on the racks proclaimed an article about “trannie bois”. My queer New York was dotted with trans kids and gender queers; to see them evoked on the cover of a glossy magazine made me skeptical, and as I recall, with good reason. The article was often narrow-minded and hypocritical. Oh, how I wanted a cultural magazine that could talk about queer New York with finesse and respect.
Fast forward a few years to when I somehow end up subscribing to New York. Maybe it was the allure of being a grown up–teaching full-time in the Bronx, with a one bedroom in Harlem. I loved the way New York mag looked rolled up in my mailbox, the way I could veg out with the gossip columns, consumer treats, cultural news and interviews. You seemed, always, a magazine as in love with the city as I was, and I adored you.
Recently, though, you’ve published some lines that have me doing that double take again. Take this summer, when an article popped up on your website insinuating that a study of gay male alcoholics makes the case that gay men party so much, it’s impossible for them to get sober. (God, how I still shudder to type such a bullshit idea). I preyed on your comments section, blogged it, twittered it, facebooked it, and hated it. The next issue, there were no letters to the editors, no comments culled from your blog. Many people–including someone associated with the study–complained about the audacity of that article. But you didn’t much seem to care.
Now, you’ve printed some pretty outlandish and inherently racist words about something very near and dear to my young heart–the queer dance party scene of Brooklyn. This fall I wrote an article about this very scene for The Queerist, citing a recent surge of mixed queer parties dotting the borough. Emphasis here on mixed queer parties. I mean, let’s look at this: the first Rumours party I attended hosted some gay boys along side hipster dykes and fashionistas. Secret Faggot, when I’ve gone, has always been an impressive down the middle split of fags and dykes. And then, there’s the population of trans kids who are partying at these places. Especially at That’s My Jam, which hosted the Trans My Jam party during Pride this June, I feel like there’s finally a sense at most of these parties that if you’re anywhere under the broad queer umbrella, you’ll be among other queers, hands down. And, most importantly of all, at all of these parties there will be awesome DJs and LOTS of dancing. No more sipping cocktails on the sidelines waiting for a good song to come on. No more of this girls parties/boys parties eye-roll inducing segregation.
But you! You, New York Magazine. You write up all of these parties and then some under the heading of Girls Have More Fun. Now, I’m a girl, and I love these parties, yeah. And I see other girls there, totally. But for Christ’s sake, that’s not the whole picture. Then, the icing on the cake. Liz Armstrong, author of this piece, summarizes That’s My Jam like this: “A roving affair that sets down in three bars in Brooklyn. Its original intention, allegedly, was to promote interracial hookups. It seems to be working.”
Whoa. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.
To pause for one moment here and play devil’s advocate, I can imagine Armstrong’s article getting written like this: pitches are thrown out for the annual Reasons to Love New York issue (sidenote: this is an issue I’ve grown to love, as I could talk about reasons to love this city until I die). Armstrong starts ticking off the parties she’s heard about in Brooklyn, bets she can wrangle up a few more to illustrate a movement, and voilà, New York’s got it token queer Reason to Love New York. Camera person gets sent to Rumours last Friday, links/sites are found to rep each of the parties, and suddenly the deadline is here. Whip up some quick/cute/all assuming copy (“sapphic centric Brooklyn”, blah blah blah), and send it to print.
In all fairness, most of these parties are happy to have the press (both Rumours and Gay Face reposted the article on their Facebook pages as soon as it was up on the web). Nor do those parties mind falling under the category of girl party. But the write up of That’s My Jam is just hugely erroneous. First off, it’s definitely not a girl party. I mean, girl party? That, to me, means a party for girls. Like Eden. Or Choice Cunts. Or Shescape. That’s My Jam? Puh-leeze. Performance artists billed at TMJ parties have included The Obituaries (awesome duo of one het boy, one homo boy) and She Dick (drag queens extraordinaire). Co-creator Trent was recently featured in Time Out New York’s “Date These Trans Folks.“. Just take a look at the hundreds of photos from various That’s My Jams. You can’t get any further from “girl party” than TMJ.
And as for the blasphemous “Its original intention, allegedly, was to promote interracial hookups?” First of all, the word “allegedly” in journalism is not a source; it’s an assumption. And assumption doesn’t make for good copy. Second of all, do your homework, Armstrong! This fall when I reached out to the TMJ crew for the skinny on how TMJ got started, DJ Tikka Masala couldn’t have been more responsive and gracious. I don’t care what kind of deadline you’re working under; send a Facebook message and see what happens. It’s irresponsible to print such a thing. And maybe on first read, lay people might find nothing wrong or offensive with the idea that a party was “allegedly” started to “promote interracial hookups.” But think about it–we finally get a good party that attracts queers of color and white hipsters in the same event, and you think it’s about interracial dating? Do you think the other parties in the article were started to promote inter-L train stop hookups? No way. From what I can sense, people who frequent TMJ go because the music is rad and the crowd is fun. That’s My Jam started as a party for queers who wanted to hear good music and shimmy into the wee hours of the night. Mission accomplished, Tikka and co. That’s My Jam is an awesome party for queers who wanna dance.
So what would I like you to do, New York Magazine? I’m gonna say it would be good of Armstrong to apologize, or retract her assumptions, or give any kind of response. Even if she just writes to the TMJ crew with some kind of email that says, “My bad.” Sadly, though, I have a hunch that Armstrong and New York are just gonna lay low on this one. And how offensive it is, I have to say, because it sends the message that queer communities aren’t even worth apologizing to. If New York Magazine published some BS assumption about some new fancy hotel, or art gallery, or hetero fête, you better believe they’d make some sort of comment on it. But a 300 word piece on queer parties (and at that, so-labeled girl parties)? Sigh. Like the gay-male-alcoholics-are-doomed article, I fear you’re just gonna let it slide.
All in all, it’s a shame because the renaissance of queer nightlife in Brooklyn is a HUGE Reason to Love New York. I don’t know about you, but the top reason I moved to this city nine years ago was so that I could be queer. My first year in New York, I had a gaggle of dyke friends with whom I party hopped as much as our fake I’d toting selves could. There was Gloss at Meow Mix, and BQE bar, Clit Club, and later places like Girl’s Room, Snapshot (still happening?), and Wednesdays at Metropolitan (still going strong, I’ll assume). Sadly, though, these parties were hit or miss, held on weeknights (death sentence to us working class queers), and most of the time catering to Lesbians with a capital L, a slot of queerness my friends and I didn’t all get down with. Now, though? Christ, in December alone, there will be or has been two That’s My Jam parties, two episodes of Hey, Queen, one Rumours, one Pantyhos (part of their blow out before saying goodbye). That’s four weekends of like eight parties! It’s a queer dance party circus out there right now, kids.
As for you, New York magazine? I totally won’t be renewing my subscription when that time rolls around. I could use that twenty bucks to pay cover charge and get a couple soda pops next weekend when my queer self goes out dancing. xo, c
[Nota Bene: One of the downsides of blogging is that you tend to post things immediately, as opposed to published writing, where you can mull over a draft forever and fix it up fine before it ever sees the light of day. Especially since this was a blog post about a current happening, I threw this one up after only a quick glance over. Weeks later, I've since made some changes, so please know that the above post is not the same as the one originally written. xo, c]