I was reading the interview with Dan Savage this month in 'Between the Lines', and from where I'm standing, it's not getting better at all, and gay people are each other's worst enemies. Yes, there are straight bullies who are finally being confronted, but the most devastating thing is coming out to a gay community who doesn't give a shit because you aren't good enough for them to talk to.
We are self-isolating because of the internet and the ability to not deal with real gay people - rather, we are living a lie behind stolen photos and identities of men we wish we could be rather than the wonderfully flawed humans we are. The gay press has made this possible in using very attractive, college athletes (who aren't gay) as models hawking gay services. These online venues don't encourage closeted gay people to come out: it reaffirms the fact that there is NOBODY out there for them - so why bother looking? They go through dozens of clicked-out conversations and ignored nights online only to discover a gay community that only cares when you're the new young guy who has money, a post-doctorate education, wears $1000 sunglasses and looks perfect. A week later they're done with you, and couldn't care less what happens to you. I worry because we claim to want marriage rights but I see very, very few gay people with the ability to keep or even find a relationship that will last more than 3-6 months.
If we are to be honest about gay relationships we need to identify why we sabotage them, we need to examine why our expectations are so unrealistic when looking at the small percentage of men who are gay we get to choose from, why we're not finding anything, and why we refuse to grow up and take responsibility for being men rather than the damaged 15 year old girls we are emotionally. As it stands, gay people generally don't like each other - we pass by each other on the street and don't even say hello or smile. We lie, steal, cheat and wish each other bad luck. If you want to know why so many gay youth/adults commit suicide - it's not because of straight bullying. It's because we come out after waiting years to find acceptance, only to discover this group of broken men who will only speak to you if you have affluence, disposable income, over-education, a nasty, mean-spritied attitude and live very far beyond your means. It's actually more restrictive to come out than it is to say nothing, and that's why so many youth are doing just that. It Gets Better is a great start, but it does nothing to address the fact that gay people are just as responsible when it comes to the fact that we don't give a flying fuck about the health and well-being of other gay people. We are still a very anonymous people who are just fine without ever knowing a thing about each other, because our image and delusions of affluence, over-education and elitism are more important than the real people who happen to be gay - whether they're white, black, latino, rich, on welfare, whatever - we have to stop being so awful towards each other. THAT is 'It Gets Better' needs to shoot for.
One of the hardest things we will ever have to do as gay men is get rid of the clothes we can't afford, stop lying about this social/economic status we wish we had, stop making up stories about how we grew up in rich families and went to the best prep schools, etc because that will not find us acceptance from within or from others - I don't think we are there yet. But having come out at 15, I can tell you, I've met just about every personality type there is, and those who just told the truth regardless of how boring and 'poor' it made them sound, are the most successful in life today. So many of us still can't stand to be in our own skin so we cover that with lies that boost our social status and clothes that make us feel as if we should be treated better than 'common folks'. It will get better when WE do better. And start being nice to other gay people. It doesn't mean you want to sleep with them, but my God, it wouldn't hurt to cultivate some sense of gay community in most cities these days. We can't just spend our lives not speaking to those we don't deem good enough and set our sights on the absolute best there is.