Cultivating Culture: Tim-Gunn

Image: Bravo

Whether you abhor the idea or you’re fighting for the cause, you can’t deny that the struggle for equal rights concerning gay marriage is affecting social and cultural norms now more than ever. LGBT identity is a form of cultural capital (or lack thereof) depending on what circles we’re taking into consideration. In this article, I will examine how LGBT identity can and has played out in different career fields and how the perception of the community has changed throughout the years.

Let’s consider the fashion sphere for a moment. According to the New York Times, both Tara Subkoff, the agent provocateur behind the label Imitation of Christ, and designer Peter Som have made comments about gay men dominating the fashion industry, although at the time, Subkoff spoke out of annoyance and Som mused about the concept. “The difference between their attitudes toward the gay male dominance of the fashion industry, a peculiar and widely acknowledged circumstance, illustrates a growing tension between those who feel they are discriminated against and those who feel somewhat favored by a perception, largely unexamined, that men are better designers than women, and gay men are the best designers of all,” stated the Times. Homosexuality clearly carries social currency in the industry. However, like all circumstances leading to shifts in this particular cultural capital, intersectionality (the combination of an individual’s race, gender, socioeconomic class) must be taken into account as well.

Elton John

Elton John is a powerful gay entertainment icon.
s_bukley /

In the entertainment business, homosexuality and/or vigorous support of homosexuality also hold a certain value for those to whom it applies. According to called Powerful Gay Men in Hollywood, “Gays in the entertainment industry now compete on a more open and level playing field, and homosexuality is simply one more common bond in an industry where networking means everything.” Like any commonality that fosters community between individuals, the fact that a given entertainer is homosexual can resonate with others in the industry, with fans who are LGBT or support LGBT causes, and members of the public who are deeply invested in driving equal rights for the LGBT communities. Multifarious entertainers, LBGT and straight, have bonded together to support the fight for equal rights.

This fight for equal rights is occurring mainly in the realm of politics. No one exemplifies this better than Kenneth Mehlman. Though he is a republican, Mehlman has begun to use his political acclaim from his past successes to effectively persuade legislation and the public to support equal rights for the LGBT community. Several other politicians are stepping up to do the same.

New, strong, and supportive networks have been established and are constantly growing between LGBT community members and their supporters. Cultural capital is shifting in once heterosexually-dominant areas to include more diversity and attitudes of tolerance and respect.