What is gay in 2011 (dating, community, activism, life)

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    Jul 11, 2011 12:43 AM GMT
    I just found this, so I thought I would add a little bit of insight. So much progress has been made since that terrible day in that summer of 1981, when gay mens' lives changed forever. We stuck together for a while, even took care of each other. We did these things because nobody else would do them for us. But now, something's changed. I don't feel connected anymore, and alot of my gay male and female friends have said the same. I'm just throwing a few things out there, but here goes:

    I came out at 15, am now 37, and have experienced a complete whirlwind of 'what being gay' is. I think that projects such as 'It Gets Better' are great for certain people, but, much as the same kinds of programs that were available when I came out (LGYT - Lesbian & Gay Youth Together) they often give an unrealistic idea of what life will be like. For one, I moved to many different cities with large gay populations and despite coming out early to an accepting family, I did not find many young gay men with the same experience. Many were told to get out of the house and never come back. These were young men who were surviving - not looking ahead towards dating, college, or possibly marriage - they were looking at how not to be homeless next month. This has not changed for a large percentage of the gay society, but because this doesn't fit with the gay media's illusion that we are all rich, doctorate-educated, and white collar, nobody talks about gay men working as supermarket checkers or bank tellers or being on welfare. We are all supposed to be experts, analysts, doctors, and whatnot - whatever happens to the gay teens who, after dropping out of high school, never go back? Nobody wants to hear about the gay guys who live in public housing.

    The same goes with marriage. It's this illusion that we've all met who we are supposed to meet, all our hangups and insecurities are gone, and there's just enough gay men to match together so that we are all sexually and emotionally compatible, happy and 'together'. I met one guy in 1996 which lasted for a year. Since then, nothing. This might not be your story, but it needs to be told that not all gay people have met someone and are waiting to get married. Many of us find nobody. And that's what's turned me off from activism - everything (lately) has surrounded marriage, which affects such a small group of gay people. Couples (often - not always!) have two incomes! Gay men who are single, low-income, have no kids, and are about to lose their jobs/insurance/etc are screwed because there are little to no social programs for single adults with no kids. No public housing, no food stamps, no aid. You are on your own. But once again, the classist gay media - assuming gay men are all rich and shopping at Trader Joe's - doesn't want to mention that there are gay people who are worried about being homeless, losing their insurance and being unable to afford their prescriptions. This is real life for a lot of us who are doing it on one income. Kudos to those who are getting married, but you have two incomes - forgive me if I'm not very worried about your survival right now. I am angry that gay activism has turned into single-issue activism rather than activism that includes the issues that every gay person faces rather than a privileged few.

    I am not sure what the answer is in terms of gay dating. Over the last 10 years, it's just become tougher, because fewer gay men are coming out, instead choosing the easy route of internet chat rooms. At University a decade ago, we had so many gay people coming to group and the dances, we added a second night and a cover charge for the dance. Today, there is no group. The dances are gone. Students will email and say they'll go only if they can see pictures of 'who else might show up' and 'maybe they'll be there'. Nobody comes. It's a sad thing that so many have gone right back to hiding, this time behind a locked door in front of a computer, with no intentions of ever getting out there to meet someone, and (apparently) telling nobody in real life about their true identity. If this is the way things are, I am not optimistic about our future as gay communities. I see a lot of isolation on the horizon, which brings loneliness - which brings on addiction, we already have astounding rates of alcoholism in the gay world - the isolation only adds to that - and the worst part is if you're secluded at home with no interest in seeing other gay people, you have no push. I HAD to get out and see what being gay was all about. Sure, the guys I met at first I wasn't interested in, but I learned a lot from them and their friends. I wanted to know what their path was like. I admired the courage they had. Their advice mattered to me. I'm not seeing that now, and I just fear that it's going to take this current group of young men an extra 10-15 years to come out, or worse, the isolation will kill them through addiction or suicide. We (gay people) need to tune in to this - because many of these suicides are never counted as gay because he never told anyone and never knew anyone in the community.

    Finally (I'll end here, sorry!) we need to start respecting other gay people. I've said this many times; gay men are the reason why other gay men are jumping off bridges, hanging themselves and saying "I'm done; I'm not doing this one more day'. When you finally come out - when you've finally decided to be honest about who you are - only to come out to gay men who are even more judgmental, rude, classist and expect you to be wealthy, dress/look affluent, and only care about what you can do for them, it hits you: not only are you an outsider in the straight world, but you are unwanted in the gay world as well. You have nowhere to go, and you feel like you have nobody to turn to. This treatment is unacceptable.
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    Jul 11, 2011 1:54 AM GMT
    As the doctoral degree holding ubermensch of the crowd, I don't think I am classist or "above" my hairdresser and grocery sacker pals. I might not want to marry them or date them, but I still am capable of the human range of emotions that feels empathy, pity, and respect for a life much harder lived than my own (and yours, as it sounds, since you came from a family much more open and accepting than my own.)

    I know several out and proud gay Republicans that think gay marriage obfuscates more pressing issues in the world - did you ever imagine such a thing when you first came out? It still seems somewhat troubling and odd to see that when, as you read the forum, a few neighborhoods over (in one of the gay areas of town) an RJer was verbally assaulted for telling a guy hanging around a GAY area of town that "you are cute" -- did you ever imagine such a thing happening today in 2011 on a gay side of town?

    Gay in 2011? Do it how you want and live with what you can get. Don't expect other people to fit some cookie-cutter pattern; don't expect yourself to conform to some anachronistic mentality that gay means a certain thing. I thought it always was about tasting the rainbow and celebrating the differences that make us unique just as much as our similarities make us brothers in arms?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 11, 2011 2:00 AM GMT
    Does this mean I have to be *gasp* NICE to people now?!?!? icon_eek.gif

    Dammit! icon_mad.gif

    *kicks rocks*