Re: Gap Years


Good point. Although the day will come when gays take having full civil rights for granted, hopefully the younger generation isn't any where near that point yet.

Posted by: steve macdonald | Link to this comment | 07- 3-09 8:46 PM
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I am shocked, shocked to learn that the gay community is, uhm, heterogeneous.

Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 07- 3-09 8:57 PM
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The gap feels overstated to me. Admittedly I'm on the 40+ side, but the younger GLBTs I visit with have plenty to say to me, and I to them, and they deal with a lot of homophobia and transphobia too. Yes, things are better for them overall, but that doesn't mean that they're always or even often what you'd want to call good. Gaybashing isn't a thing of the past, butch women still get fired early and often, and on and on.

Younger GLBTs have grown up in a society where there've always been some prominent public advocates for their rights and dignities. But they still live in the same world with Fred Phelps, with the Human Rights Coalition's massive sellouts, with their sexuality as the ranking catch-all term for everything that's bad. They still have ask themselves if it's safe to admit who they're in love with, and to have presumptions about what they do in bed the common fodder of dirty jokes. Meh.

Posted by: Ceri B. | Link to this comment | 07- 3-09 9:06 PM
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Okay, I'll try it with a bit less snottiness.

"It really makes no sense to talk about the lesbian community ..."

From Cherry Grove, Fire Island, Sixty Years in America's First Gay and Lesbian Town by Esther Newton, at page 206. I've only skimmed it (it's been on my shelf since shortly after it was published in 1993). One of her points seems to be that the Gay community, like many communities, has fault lines along class boundaries, etc. Another fault line is aparently between old timers and newcomers, unsurprisingly enough.

Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 07- 3-09 9:22 PM
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It seems to me what younger LGBT person are likely to run into is how fragile the "LGBT" supposed unity is. To the extent, that is, that most of the "LG" are still contemptuous of the "B" (owing to the understandably-misguided trope of "LG" being an unalterable biological norm that precludes "B"), and everyone from white-middle-class-feminists on down feels pretty fucking comfortable shitting on the "T."

Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 3-09 9:31 PM
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(In spite of which I still think Jesurgislac overreacted to DaBitchPhD.)

Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 07- 3-09 9:34 PM
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(mashing threads against house style)
I like where she's talking about the troops, but really she is trying to talk about herself.

On the 4th of July, I support our (gay) troops.

Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 07- 3-09 10:02 PM
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Well, you know, "Kids these days! With the music, and the hair..." Not something we've just started to hear recently. Stonewall happened just past my first birthday, so I could never know the back wall of the closet so intimately as had my brothers & sisters before me...

Yet where the boomers' personal revolutions all got swept up in one giant trip, from Peace to Peace Pops, I got to learn about Gay Related Immune Deficiency while I was still processing Mutual Assured Destruction. Gen X marked the spot of Patient Zero (though we all knew he must be a Boomer).

On can only hope the Stonewall Generation & the Safe Sex Generation are to be succeeded by a generation that knows Vermont (& Iowa & New York & so on & so forth) as well as Laramie. That's nothing to bitch about.

Of course we do anyway--because bitching amongst the generations is a perennial pastime for many reasons, including: it's wicked fun.

Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 07- 3-09 10:42 PM
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Also: what do you mean "we" don't know how good we've got it, white man?

The first hit I googled just now (via Results 1 - 10 of about 1,800,000 for india homosexuality. (0.20 seconds) says

"About 200 gays gathered, cheered and hugged at Delhi's Jantar Mantar monument, a traditional gathering area for all sorts of protests. They were mobbed by nearly as many reporters."

Ask tomorrow's "privileged upstarts" of Indian queer culture how many know of somebody who was in on that street party. Like the 1960 vote for JFK, it will grow somewhat in the telling. That's what I love about history, and about liberation for that matter.

Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 07- 3-09 11:00 PM
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4: My pet theory is that the more likely a a group is to be described as a "community" the less likely it is that its members share any values, experiences or worldviews.

Try it: "the gay community," "the intelligence community," "the African-American community."

Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 5:57 AM
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10 - The Oneida Community?

Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 7:15 AM
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The correlation isn't perfect.

Is there a name for words that get applied only when the presence of the property the word refers to is in doubt?

Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 7:48 AM
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I was talking with a 22 year old woman yesterday who did not seem to comprehend the concept of coming out. She has always known gay people and hadnt experienced someone coming out. It was foreign to her.

Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 8:33 AM
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Speaking of generations of homosexuals, I just got done reading Alison Bechdel's Fun Home and recommend it highly.

Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 8:37 AM
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between the twentysomethings who have encountered at least some acceptance their whole lives and the thirty and fortysomethings who lived through much more prejudice, not to mention the AIDS crisis of the 80s was quite interesting.

If I remember the 80's properly, there were a lot of 'Greatest Generation' dudes, who had figured out (not necessarily come out, but discovered) they were gay in their 50's.

So I expect there is a generation gap across the board - it would depend on your age in relation to the 1970's basically.

['The post-oppression, pre-oppression period.']

Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 9:14 AM
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14: That is a really, really good book. I devoured it one hungover afternoon.

Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 9:22 AM
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6: No, I didn't.

I've never heard anything like this brought up by my gay friends

Oh, I have. There certainly exist gay/lesbian kids who came out after they left school, and have supportive/neutral parents, live in big cities with flourishing queer/queer-friendly clubs/pubs - and they have no clear notion that anything used to be different. Probably more in the UK and countries where the law treats GLBT people more-or-less equally than in the US, I would think.

You would have to be pretty stupid and pretty naive to think that gay rights groups in the US no longer serve a purpose - good grief, your President is happy to let the military carry on dismissing soldiers for their sexual orientation, despite having explicitly promised to reverse this - not to mention the infamous DOMA-defense which explains the US government is entitled to deny same-sex couples the benefits of marriage because it's cheaper that way.

But there is a difference between people who grew up knowing that you thought hard and carefully before you let on to anyone not known to be queer what your sexual orientation is - and the people who take for granted that you can always be open about it. Except in the military.

Gay male friends tell me that there is a definite generational difference between the gay men who directly witnessed the impact of AIDS on their community - gay men who came out before 1995, say - and the gay men who came out after successful combination therapies had been developed that meant being diagnosed with HIV was not a death sentence.

Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 9:36 AM
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Also, 14! It's magnificent.

Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 9:37 AM
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For radical people (both queer and non-) of my generation, the AIDS activists of the late eighties and early nineties were a huge political presence. My understanding of how activism is done was pretty much created by reading about ACT-UP and Queer Nation and so on when I was in high school. (There's a terrific book, From ACT-UP to the WTO that traces the influence of AIDS/GLBTQ activism on anti-globalization). It's startling to realize both how fragile institutional memory is among activists and how old I've gotten; lots of the folks I work with don't even really know what ACT-UP was and have never heard of Queer Nation. It's rather like Silvia Rivera--I had never heard of her until last year, yet she was important and well-known. But there was no institutional memory of her in my circles.

(Of course, I often sadly think of how my mediocre and politically appalling education means that I'm doing remedial reading all the time; it's not even mere ignorance, it's that my head is full of useless stuff from school. So even when you try to create books or zines or other projects about the beloved dead you still have to fight for the time and mental space to do so.)

One thing I've noticed--among middle class queer folks, the fact that AIDS is not a death sentence if you're insured and have a stable life has occluded the understanding of the disease's politics. The former caretaker of my old building, for example, was diagnosed with what we used to refer to as "full-blown AIDS" and died of it--as far as I know, he was a former heroin addict who got no medical care until his first bout with pneumonia. I presume that poor queer folks still die of AIDS. ("Marriage is not the answer/single queers still get cancer" as they say at the marches; that's another thing, even if the phrasing leaves a bit to be desired.)

Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 12:42 PM
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AIDS is not a death sentence if you're insured and have a stable life

This has some weird ramifications of its own. I know a good number of men who got infected while we were in college (late 80s through the very early 90s). At the time, it was pretty widely seen as a death sentence, and not one that let you linger that long either. And accordingly, many of them ran up enormous credit card debts and developed drug addictions because, hell, why not?

Except they're (almost) all still alive in 2009, mostly saddled with huge debt loads (or, for the luckier ones, bankruptcies about to come off their records) and NA sponsors.

Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 12:50 PM
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17.last: In my experience there is more of a continuous spectrum of generational differences in the LGBT community, and not surprisingly given the continuing dynamic changes in social attitudes in the last 50 years. I was struck by this recently when I was recommending Alan Turing: The Enigma here; as significant as the changes since its publication in 1983 have been, they are probably less sweeping than those that happened between Turing's death in 1954 and its publication. Varies by country of course, and actual political progress generally lags.

I don't know how widely broadcast the radio show "This Way Out" is, but it is a dynamite listen every week for its reporting on the state of laws and social attitudes from around the world.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 1:05 PM
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I've begun to think of AIDS as a disease that kills off poor people, rather than gay people. In this respect, it is no different than other diseases like malaria or tuberculosis.

This also means that we probably will never see significant progress on the disease past this point.

Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 1:13 PM
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21 - Alan Turing's murder-by-legislation breaks me up when I think about it. He'd have made it to see the Internet! He'd conceivably be alive today!

Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 1:30 PM
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23: Well, if Alan Turing were alive today he'd have celebrated his 97th birthday a couple of weeks ago - and he would have had to survive the AIDS era.

But yeah.

Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 2:02 PM
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22: I'm not sure how you get from your first paragraph to your second. There are plenty of chronic diseases that are more likely to kill poor people than rich that get plenty of research money and attention. It's not like people have stopped trying to cure diabetes, for example.

Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 3:25 PM
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I think you and Rob are thinking of different poor people. I suspect Rob has something like poor people in Africa in mind.

Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 3:43 PM
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Yeah, I was thinking of really, really poor people.

Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 3:53 PM
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Speaking of which, did you hear that the FAO estimate of the number of chronically malnourished people worldwide has grown from 900 million to a billion?

Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 3:58 PM
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Still not following. Yeah, rich people don't die of AIDS, but the treatment regimen is still difficult and expensive, so there's still impetus for a cure.

Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 07- 4-09 6:23 PM
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By the way, the bitchery continues. With love, though, near as I can tell... Evidence that the Web continues to be the solution to/enabler of our worst instincts.

Posted by: Rah | Link to this comment | 07- 5-09 7:17 AM
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21: I endorse your recommendation of the Turing biography. He's an interesting guy, and the book is good on the technical stuff without getting too bogged down in it. The last portion is excruciating, but by then you're so into it that you have to read all the way to the end.

Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07- 5-09 8:28 AM
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There's a definite generation gap. I know a college kid who is smart, good-looking, athletic, gay and doing what I keep thinking of as "masculinity drag." He was once referred to as "the gay guy who hates fags," but somewhat jokingly. Mainstreaming does both good and bad, potentially destroying as many paths through life as it creates, but it beats leaving things the way they were or are.

I don't think the generation gap between the 20-somethings and the 30-40-50-etc.-somethings is anything new, though. In society in general there seems always to have been a significant gap between the experience of each successive generation. I think specific factors of the 20th century have widened those gaps between each generation, and I think it's possible that those gaps are uniquely wider in the queer communities, but regardless I don't think any generation in America, at least since the late 19th century, has had anything like the same experience of same-sex attraction or gender identity as the one before it.

When I was a college freshman (1992) I was being told that I would just never understand real homophobia. That's nice and all, but the point of the movement, at least in theory, at least according to a lot of the signs that show up at Pride, is to transform society so that queer people of all stripes don't have to experience society at a remove if they don't want to do so. In that light the generation gap is just another hallmark of success.

I'm reminded of a John Waters speech/performance in which he refers to himself as "gaily incorrect" by virtue of having grown up to think that not having to serve in the military and not having to get married were the prizes for being gay. That's just random, though.

As to the term "community," that's a debate that's been being had for a long time and hopefully will continue for longer. Yes, it's a heterogeneous set of identities but having loud, powerful people willing to brand us as gender criminals is a pretty big thing to have in common. No, not all of our concerns are the same, but it doesn't hurt to show a little support, you know? That's why I like the word "queer" so much, why I've loved it from the moment it was presented to me as being reclaimed. The term "queer communities" is hard to rail against and it rolls right off the tongue.

Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 07- 5-09 11:59 AM
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he would have had to survive the AIDS era.

Well, he would have been ~70 at its inception. I'm not sure surviving that era would have been shocking. Not that 70-y.o.s don't have sex, but I would imagine A.T. would have been spending a bit less time at the bathhouse.

Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 07- 5-09 2:19 PM
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If Alan Turing had survived, computers would be much more sophisticated, and he along with billions of others would have died when Skynet became self-aware in 1997.

Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 07- 5-09 2:30 PM
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33: JRoth - I don't know a single gay geek who would not have been happy to give Alan Turing all the sex he wanted.

...come to that, I know multiple straight men who would cheerfully go gay for Turing.

Okay, okay, in his 70s maybe he'd have settled down, found himself a steady... but I'm told monogamy is not necessarily one of those things that comes on with old age.

Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:48 AM
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32: I saw some of that in college in the late 90s. We had an openly gay residential advisor for a while. Except that he was going to medical school on the Navy's dime, so that was interesting. And when he kicked out his live in boyfriend right before house term elections, one of the write in office's became: "x's boyfriend". Interesting times.

Posted by: mpowell | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 5:57 AM
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My highschool was definitely more backward than the more selective bigger one in the next town over. It was a pretty homophobic place. Nobody was out; in fact I know that the school counselor who was in no way homophobic himself told somebody that he shouldn't come out there. One guy came back in 92 and was known to be gay, and a ton of people snickered. He'd actually been popular before that. Now they've got a gay/straight alliance.

But they still live in the same world with Fred Phelps, with the Human Rights Coalition's massive sellouts,

I've heard a lot of criticism of HRC from the left saying that it's too corporate and the like, but I've never been aware enough to know to what that was referring. Could somebody give me a brief summary/explanation with a couple of examples?

Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 8:30 AM
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I'm reminded of a John Waters speech/performance in which he refers to himself as "gaily incorrect" by virtue of having grown up to think that not having to serve in the military and not having to get married were the prizes for being gay. That's just random, though.

Not random, in my estimation. I was talking with someone recently about how different it is to have marriage front and center as THE human rights issue for queers. Plenty of gay and straight people, whether by virtue of age or of political engagement, don't know how vehement were the disagreements as to whether marriage should even be on the agenda, never mind be the agenda.

Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 07- 6-09 2:47 PM
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