Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? Asks Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

It's hard to overstate how much the politics of sexuality have changed in the past 20 years. In the 1980s and '90s, coming out of the closet was a radical act. In 2011, gay men and lesbians are so cute and cuddly and downright marketable in popular culture that even Archie and Jughead hang out with their very own gay pal, Kevin Keller. Riverdale's inhabitants may be so perpetually virginal that they would slap a triple-X notice on a slide show about cellular mitosis, but gayness is now safe enough that Kevin can be counted on to be as impeccably chaste and dull as any other All-American lad.

Writer, editor, and activist Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is like the anti-Kevin Keller. Notoriously flamboyant, brazen, and radical, Sycamore would make the good citizens of Riverdale plotz. She's even been known to have that effect on both straights and gays in the real world. For Mattilda, the current agenda of queer politics, which promises gays and lesbians the right to be just like everyone else, is intolerable. (Notice that promise does not extend to populations such as bisexual and transgender people. Some in the gay-rights movement have long considered them dangerous, self-hating, delusional, or nonexistent.) With anthologies including That's Revolting! And Nobody Passes, Sycamore has established herself as one of the most outspoken critics of the gay mainstream. Her latest anthology turns the volume of criticism up to 11 with the title alone: Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?

The former S.F. resident is back in town, appearing Saturday (Feb. 25) at Viracocha for the Radar Book Club, to promote this book before continuing to Portland and points beyond. We talked with Sycamore about assimilation, queerness, the Occupy movement, and whether it actually does get better.

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