I ventured downtown into NYC’s gay ghetto for the first time this summer, convincing one’a my buddies that if would be a change from the local dive where we usually hang here the South Bronx. He wouldn’t have believed me when I told him how 8th Avenue in Chelsea was the center of a working-class Puerto Rican barrio when I was growing up if I hadn’t took him past La Tasa de l’Oro and the little Cuban cuchi-frito up the block from it to show him the last remnants of the old neighborhood before the current demographic now there ran everyone else out. But that’s old news. What was more startling was the pace at which the current feminized gay male esthetic and its hidden racism and classism has consolidated its hegemony. Beginning with our excursion into The Hanger, then the Monster later that evening, and then a couple other places, my buddy was required to take off his du-rag for entry. Meanwhile, there were guys with pocket-books (not man purses – pocket-books), another in an Erika Badu type head-wrap up in the Hanger, and any number in hot-pants up in every spot we went. So I asked the manager at one spot why it was his policy to exclude guys who wore men’s garments that some people apparently looked down on as “thug” gear even though it was fine for men to wear women’s clothing and fashion accessories in his establishment. After all, there wasn’t any dress code at any of these places. Men in women’s gear is fine, but not men in men’s clothing that his clientele finds intimidating and threatening? I got a dismissive and angry wave-off. Again, hardly surprising. The funniest thing about the whole experience, though, is how so many of the sissies up in these spots were fawning over my buddy – he does have a bit of a bad-boy persona and affect – despite the fact that people like him are obviously not particularly welcome in such environments; except perhaps as “rough trade.” At least they no longer Jim Crow certain people from gay clubs the way they used to years ago by demanding five or more photo IDs to get in. That used to happen quite a lot when I was in college. Civil rights have progressed in the “gay community!” Still, I have to hand it to the gay establishment in NYC and other large cities – they’ve used their political clout, money and organizational abilities to great success. Not only have they advanced their agenda most effectively – New York just legalized gay marriage – but they’ve created a cultural hegemony privileging an emasculated maleness that hardly any critical theory dares examine. And the implicit but deeply engrained racism and classism of this culture is even better hidden than ever. Well done, fellas!