Resistance is not futile; if we assimilate, we lose our culture
In the “Star Trek” television series there is a species known as the Borg. They are a pseudo-human race of cybernetic organisms, or cyborgs.
The Borg assimilate other species into a “collective,” or kind of “hive” mentality. Their trademark phrase is, “Resistance is futile.”
Now, there have been no Borgs on television or the big screen in more than five years, but they have been on my mind a lot lately.
The closing of Crossroads Market and the diaspora of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Dallas has been in the news and in our community’s conversations a lot lately. The consensus seems to be that, like other predominantly LGBT enclaves, Oak Lawn has been assimilated into the mainstream of life in the city, and lesbian and gay people have been assimilated into Dallas culture.
What is taking place at the crossroads is simply the latest sign of that, and, while everyone hates to see the landmark store go, it has generally been diagnosed as a victim of progress.
I am not so sure of that.
Would we consider it progress that Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent gentrification of New Orleans may be fatal to the jazz and blues culture that so long thrived there and enriched the lives of us all? Are cities made better when immigrant communities with their unique sights and sounds, smells and products, shops and restaurants are bulldozed to make way for another Starbucks or Pottery Barn?
Diversity is why I live in a city and not a suburb. It is why those who fled the city return to it. Without the grittiness of diversity there is no genuine culture or valuable art or music. I love my suburban friends, but I don’t want Dallas to become a colony of The Colony.
It would be a great disaster for all the cultural contributions of the Hispanic, African-American and Jewish communities to simply disappear. So, too, would Dallas be greatly diminished by the assimilation of the LGBT community.
Perhaps I am just a movement dinosaur, but we worked too long and too hard and paid too high a price to “come out” and become “visible” simply to disappear into the pabulum of popular culture.
In the arguments for equality, the one I hate most is when a young person says, “We are just like them.” I always want to say, “I hope to God not.”
I hope we are more interesting, more fun, more passionate. I hope we have better taste. I hope we aren’t embarrassed to be distinctive, unique, queer. I hope we are so tender that our toughness surprises even ourselves. I hope we are too witty to avoid skewering our leaders when they are hypocrites and ourselves when we become too self-absorbed.
I hope we are not “just like them” but are a distinct part of God’s creation who would rather die than be assimilated.
Perhaps I should have said that more and thought it less. Or perhaps we have lost too many of those great queers among us who made style rather than imitated it.
Or perhaps it is all Will and Grace’s fault. When we became the subject of a hit sitcom, maybe it was all over. Will and Grace and Jack and Karen may have done to us what Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson and Phyllis Schlafly never could.
Our enemies could not destroy us; their attacks only made us stronger. They couldn’t kill us, but is our culture any less dead if we simply let the Borgs of the mainstream assimilate us?
Do we really want their marriages? They don’t seem to be working out so well for them.
Oh yes, I want equal treatment under the law. But I never want my relationship to look like Ozzie and Harriet’s or, for that matter, Homer and Marge’s.
When my children who have grown up in the LGBT community heard that Dumbledore was gay they thought it was cool. I’d have hated it if they had simply shrugged.
When my daughter’s teacher said, “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” my daughter raised her hand and asked “Then who did create Adam and Steve?” She wouldn’t have learned that cheek or that wit in a “normal” household.
And her point is important for us, as well. I believe God created us queer for a reason and the world will be diminished without us.
There is a haunting 18th-century epitaph that says, “He was born a man. He died a grocer.” We were born a queer; let us not die without showing the world why.
The Rev. Michael S. Piazza is dean of the Cathedral of Hope and president of Hope for Peace and Justice.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 7, 2007