Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The price of progress?

As New Yorkers take time to mark the 39th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots--and their LGBT pride--it is important to take a moment to step back and examine the price so-called progress has had on revered pink institutions in the city and around the country.

The ongoing debate over the citations issued for disorderly conduct and possession of a controlled substance inside the Meat Rack on Fire Island last month, and the closure of Florent in the Meatpacking District on gay Pride Sunday are two examples of recent incidents or news stories that allow us to reflect upon recent developments. Both the Meat Rack and Florent have secured themselves in local LGBT popular culture. Both the Meat Rack and Florent either attract or have attracted a plethora of gay men and others. And both the Meat rack and Florent as a place in the hearts of more than a few New Yorkers.

The question becomes how progress has affected these two institutions (or perhaps more accurately venues). The Meat rack, while still secure in its place as a forum for sexual liberation, remains a venerable part of the Fire Island experience for many. Florent, on the other hand, became a venerable institution that attracted a wide variety of characters from the neighborhood and other areas. It has now closed while Fire Islanders continue to lament the Fire Island National Seashore's supposed intrusion into their once idyllic woods. Is this progress or is this a step back? The answer to this question certainly lays in the eyes of the beholder, but one thing is certain: the idea of progress continues, for better or worse depending upon one's perspective, continues to transform many pink institutions and venues throughout Gotham and its surrounding environs.

No comments: