It’s 2022, and gender doesn’t mean what it used to. As we move further from the binary of men and women, straight and gay, we embrace a more fluid, and universal, identity. Society is coming to terms with the fact that the difference between men and women, much like the differences between legal and illegal drugs or marginalized and non-marginalized groups, is a societal construct.
This approach to gender is gonzo by definition. Gonzo journalism is subjective by definition, not objective, putting the individual experience front and center in telling a story. And that’s exactly how gender should be—an experience unique to each person, not something preordained.
Through this gonzo definition of gender, gen z and millennial folks are writing their own destiny, very much in the same way that gonzo journalism is written. Take the most obvious example, and namesake of this blog, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. On the surface, a story about two men who need to get out of town for the weekend, do a lot of drugs, and cover a motorcycle convention for a local outlet.
But throughout the weekend, a very different narrative unfolds, and it becomes about the nostalgia of the 60s and trying to recreate it in a very unfitting setting. The story evolves as the experience does, and seemingly insignificant moments, like passing another car, going to a restaurant, become remarkable through the gonzo lens.
Similarly, gender is now being treated as a story that, for many of us, is still unfolding. Some may live closeted and dysphoric for years, and then the story becomes the tale of someone living a new life, proudly and happily. Others prefer to eschew gender labels entirely, and instead are embracing the nonbinary so they can express however they feel at the time with zero binary assumptions, truly spinning a gonzo yarn of gender identity and euphoria.
Do drugs still play a role in this new gonzo era, in which everyone can tell their own story on social media and write their narrative as they go? Yes, that tie is definitely still there, and while today’s generations are much more plugged into the dangers of addiction and how substance use ties in with mental health. The newly emerging cannabis market is fueled by many a queer and serves the queer community, and there is a reemergence in healthy, holistic interest in psychedelics happening with queer folks as well.
So, for anyone who feels the gonzo ethos is for old, white, straight men, think again. Sure, they may have been some of the pioneers, but they were also sexist, flawed, and products of their time. The emerging generations are more gonzo than ever, with a singular focus: uncover injustice and write their own stories, all while embracing self-expression and self-exploration.