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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Culture Shock

  While I was live tonight I had an interesting thought.

   While it is obvious to anyone with an IQ above 30 that I am gay, I never actually discuss it. I know little of this famous "after Ellen" crowd, nothing about these new "heroes" of the movement. I almost have a disdain for popular gay culture and unless it relates to a human rights issue, I distance myself from it. This thought originally came in to my head when someone mentioned Jane Velez Mitchell a few months ago and I had no idea who she was, but recently Rachel Maddow. Never having cruised the popular homo sites, I really had ZERO idea this woman existed. When I joined Twitter I had no idea of the person on the "suggestion" list, nada. But because of a comparison a blog commenter made, I did decide to Google her and watch her and get some idea and it has turned out that we have a ton of commonalities. Something also occurred to me.

  I may have a TON of internalized homophobia or at least a serious want to fit in to a norm that so obviously does not include me. I was taken back by these young people who found it so easy to come out with all of these heroines and almost resent them in a way because I am one of the Old Gays.

  Okay kids, I came out before Ellen, before Melissa, before k.d. fuckin lang. When I came out the heroine was a girl named B.J. that I met when I was 17. She was the first gay person I had ever met and things made sense. I was outed by my sister after being the second person in a city of 17 000 to come out. B.J. was the deal. She was homophobically attacked and soon I was. To be gay meant willing to die.

   In a span of less than a year I went from a shy nerd to working for gay youth to nearly being killed by 4 men to wearing a tux to my prom to moving to a city of 4 million and being homeless in it. I had a few icons in my life though and a pair of them were an octogenarian couple who had been together since the early 50's. We didn't come out because of a celebrity, we came out under severe penalties. Gaybashings were rampant and we could still be psychiatrically committed because of who we were. We fought for our rights like union workers- we worked for the Old Gay. And for the most part, we won.

   People are enjoying unprecedented freedoms because of people like myself and the heroes who didn't have sportscars and talk shows. They were simply the people who managed to survive before us. And most of my generation is not alive today. Almost everybody I knew died from AIDS or murder. If they were lucky, they took their own lives or overdoses on drugs.

   So if I am not up on the latest gay celebrity or the latest trend, cut me some slack. If I don't include my orientation in my comedy repertoire or obsess on who is dating who, lay off for a bit. Inform me, sure. but don't demean me. I'm not a "bad homo", I'm just new to this "not having to fear for my life" thing.  As I am free because of the Old Gays before me, you are because of Old Gays like me. It sounds self-absorbed, but it is the absolute truth. We lost so many heroic beings who lived, worked, loved, and died under the label of "most hated". Cemetaries wouldn't even bury many people I knew because their orientation was so offensive that they could not even be considered for consecrated ground.People lost their educations, jobs and families. Things have sure changed.

   We are so happy for the next generation, but it seems so foreign. Going from "cops gang-raping dykes" to "I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It" in less than 2 decades is somewhat of an adjustment. We are elated but somewhat maladjusted. And maybe a little bit jealous. Please understand this babydykes - we have soft spots under our sneers, but it takes a little time. The new gay universe is as alien to us as Mongolia to a Texan.

  The Old Gay will join your happy gay melting pot if you give us a chance.


  1. Thats an awesome blog and todays young gays or wanabee gays just cause its fashionable should understand the racism and attacks people faced . Awesome blog.

  2. b4 I start forgive my grammar and punctuation. I too came out before Ellen, Melissa, K.d, George M, even Elton John was married when I was going through my internal struggle or truth finding.
    I did not find war from the public or outsiders but from soldiers in my own command, Parents, Brother, Sister, Aunty, Uncle ect. I think I could have coped better had it come from strangers.
    For people like the teenies coming out in this day n age, we have paved the road,we made it into the yellow brick road it is today from the dirt & gravel dangerous hillside in which we walked along dodging bullets and abuse for being human.
    Respect the "OLD GAY WAY" if we had no old there can never b a new.
    Thanks Roof

  3. Awesome. Prejudice requires separation, I think. Someone tells you this is bad or those people are bad, and then when you see those people and you're immature or you're all wrapped up in your dogma and you're ready to defend your god against homosexuality then you explode and do something stupid because you're uncomfortable. Well, not you. Anyway, someone who hates gays obviously hasn't know very many gay people. They're just people, people.

  4. Haven't been on Twitter for awhile so it is good to get back into the swing up things and play catch up. Just want to let you know that I thought you wrote this beautifully! Well done!

  5. this post is EXCELLENCE!! I just got to know and love you a little bit more. I hope it felt good for you to open up to us and write it.

  6. I love what you have to say. As a 30-something queer, I remember being a kid and watching ACT-UP members on TV taking over the Food and Drug Administration. I've lost many mentors over the years and have watched younger folks feel more free and easy going. It's been beautiful. At the same time, I continue to lose friends to AIDS related complications, addiction, and to suicide and our community continues to lose people to murder. While things are so much more free, young LGBTQ people struggle with violence against them regularly. Bashings continue every day. We owe so much to prior generations going back decades. Our voices must be united and our dialogue and shared experience must remain fierce. Thanks for bringing up this important conversation!.

  7. Newsflash - we are still killing ourselves and being murdered every single day and many of us live in fear every single day...

  8. Agreed Last would probably be status till ppl get along and live life. But the older generation of gay like me couldnt just walk the streets as can nowadays..! Lost my career and family! Been there with whats going on then and now. I say I never came out I was born who I am and thats who I am! No excepting needed. I think anyone who is gay is in fear of their lifes as it is, but shouldnt be.


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