This is the final installment in HuffPost Gay Voices Associate Editor JamesMichael Nichols' 30-part series "After Dark: NYC Nightlife Today And Days Past" that examines the state of New York nightlife in the modern day, as well as the development and production of nightlife over the past several decades. Each featured individual in this series currently serves as a prominent person in the New York nightlife community or has made important contributions in the past that have sustained long-lasting impacts.
HuffPost Gay Voices believes that it is important and valuable to elevate the work, both today and in the past, of those engaged in the New York nightlife community, especially in an age where queer history seems to be increasingly forgotten. Nightlife not only creates spaces for queers and other marginalized groups to be artistically and authentically celebrated, but the work of those involved in nightlife creates and shapes the future of our culture as a whole. Visit Gay Voices regularly to learn not only about individuals currently making an impact in nightlife, but those whose legacy has previously contributed to the ways we understand queerness, art, identity and human experience today.
Over the past six months, HuffPost Gay Voices Associate Editor JamesMichael Nichols sought to provide a platform for the spectrum of performers, designers, promoters and artists engaged -- either currently or historically -- with what we collectively refer to as "nightlife" in New York City.
In a time where queer culture is increasingly both folded into the mainstream and appropriated by society at large, queer nightlife in the urban mecca of New York City serves a crucially important function. Not only do nightlife spaces act as central meeting points for creatives to showcase their work and meet like-minded individuals, but they also serves as as a preservation of queerness in this age of gay marriage and homonormativity.
Nightlife also acts as a major source of cultural production, both within the context of the queer community and the fabric of our society as a whole.
For all of these reasons, "After Dark" was born as a platform for artists to discuss and self-reflect on the current state of nightlife and the foundational role it plays -- or played -- in the formation of their work and identity.
At a time where the exponential growth of technology provides a constant excess and influx of information, many people engaged with the queer community oftentimes seem to have little awareness surrounding the history of our collective struggle for rights and citizenry. For this reason, "After Dark" aimed not only to elevate the work of those currently engaged in the NYC nightlife community, but also historic and legendary figures whose work has gone on to shape queer culture on a large scale.
In an effort to step back from the singular installments of "After Dark" and formulate a larger perspective surrounding this narrative -- as well as the future of nightlife in New York City -- we reached out to each individual featured in this series to hear their thoughts on one final question:
"As New York City continues to change, especially with some arguing that the city increasingly functions to primarily serve the wealthy and elite, what do you see as the role and future of nightlife for queer artists and performers in this new vision of NYC?"
Much like the city that it exists in, nightlife in New York City encapsulates a constantly evolving narrative. While the reality of existing in an urban mecca that seems to increasingly function to serve the needs of the elite certainly presents its own set of challenges, queer artists have historically continued to thrive and create in the face of institutionalized oppression.
In fact, few things hold as much political and social weight as living openly and authentically in the face of a world that has historically tried to "correct" or kill you.
As technology and the economic realities of New York City in the 21st century continue to augment nightlife, the value of the work coming out of these queer spaces will no doubt be the one constant within this narrative.
Our culture at large will continue to be shaped and informed in the future by the individuals navigating the NYC nightlife community -- a queer world that operates entirely within the hours After Dark.