John the Divine
BY Ari Karpel
January 11 2011 5:00 AM ET
Back then, Mitchell says, he felt a kinship with anyone he met who was gay: “I used to think that someone being gay was enough to be cool.” Now it’s no longer enough, as he demonstrates with this mock exchange:
“What do you mean you don’t like Lady Gaga?”
“Nope, I, I, she’s fine. I never liked Madonna.”
“These are shocking?” he asks. “Why are these shocking things, when someone is being himself? So I get a little homophobic lately when I meet young people who just assume that this is what you’re supposed to be because you’re gay. It makes me feel like I’m in some sort of frat society where you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to listen to that, you’ve got to wear these clothes. Ageism is stronger. There’s more sort of an anorexic point of view about body issues.” And don’t get him started on gay cinema: “’Gay film’ means ‘stupid kind of lamebrained date film with pecs.’ ”
Mitchell is on a rant, but he doesn’t seem particularly angry, just sad—and philosophical. “The price of assimilation is mediocrity,” he states plainly. He then quips, “I think we’ve made great strides toward mediocrity.”
For the past three years, Mitchell and Shortbus actor P.J. DeBoy have been doing their part to keep the creeping conformity at bay. They host an old-school gathering in New York once a month called Mattachine (after the pioneering gay rights group the Mattachine Society). “It’s sort of an unadvertised, unmonetized party at Julius’ bar, the oldest gay bar, I think, in the country,” Mitchell says. “We were tired of gay bars as they were. We wanted to have our own queer bar and DJ.”
Mattachine doesn’t have a Facebook page, and it’s not held the same week every month. Wait, so people might have to actually talk to one another to find out when it is? “Exactly,” Mitchell says with a wry smile. “People are shocked.”
In other words, it’s just another day for John Cameron Mitchell.
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