Of Hysterical Significance
Hi. My name is Matt, and I am a part of a subculture that loves to overdo historical significance… or at least stretch what is true historical significance. Call it “hysterical significance”, if you will. It is a pox that plagues my, and many other subcultures. In my case, it’s the LGBT community, and I’ve no doubt we’re soon to see the “first openly gay man(or woman) to join the military” under the repealed ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ military. No doubt he or she will be sworn in to service with Donna Summer playing in the background, and shirtless generals making out with one another in a dark and dusty backroom somewhere. But I digress…
We’re just getting over our “first black president.” In fact, our great finicky nation could soon name him the first hated black president. Who knows? And perhaps the first black president title is a worthy and historically significant one. Maybe the first openly gay president would be. A good role model for all the minority kiddies, and such. But what happens when it goes overboard?
I’ve seen so many instances of this. I am personally waiting for “First Openly Bisexual Jewish Black Breast Cancer Survivor to Win an Olympic Gold in Curling.” But until that day, I will have to settle for “First Black Mayor of ____” and “First Openly Gay Guido in the North End.” It’s comical to a point that acknowledgment of the “real” accomplishments seem unnecessary. And is it? Are we really in a space where we need to highlight each and every minute accomplishment of someone simply because they might have a characteristic different from a greater percentage of the population? I’m not sure we do. We’re not beyond racism, sexism, or countless other -isms in our society, but I believe we are beyond the point where those “firsts” are effective inspiration. Hell… when you get a black man in the presidency, when a disturbingly large portion of citizens still question his birthplace even years after it’s been proven, where do you go from there? I think that is about the pinnacle of those kinds of accomplishments.
And so, with this essay, I would like to propose an end; an end to hysterical significance. Let there be no more covers of black, gay, Jewish, women’s, or any so-called news magazines touting the newest firsts. Unless of course it’s “the first black president to star in gay porn while in the white house.” But then, I won’t have to see that until I’ve opened up the plain brown wrapping anyway.