The Generation Gap between old gay and young gays. I think a lot of people may find this interesting _ NY MAG

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    Jun 24, 2009 3:19 PM GMT

    I agreed with a lot of this but wanted to make mention of one point. In regards to "Activism" the days of violent protest in America are largely gone.
    Regardless if you're fighting for Gay Rights or fighting against the Iraq war, the conditions surrounding protests have dramatically shifted. When I was in NYU professors and older people said, "you're not protesting, you're not running through the street, shouting at the top of your lungs" to which our typical response was, " well it costs 250 dollars to apply for a permit that basically allows me to walk in a circle the width of a van" not only that BUT " YOU ARE ARRESTED IMMEDIATELY without A. HAVING a permit or B. SHOUTING due to the assumption that you may incite a riot" This isn't just a gay right issue, after vietnam and the US government buckled up. Sure you can run outside half-naked screaming " give me my marriage" but being shoved in a police car doesn't really add that much to the movement.
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    Jun 24, 2009 3:22 PM GMT
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    Jun 24, 2009 7:08 PM GMT
    How can you truly be down for a cause if you are afraid of getting arrested.
    Back in the 50's, 60's and 70's. That is what it was all about.
    It wasn’t all of this sound and fury signifying nothing like it is today.
    I have yet to see anyone saying let's have a sit in which could last for days not hours.

  • jarhead5536

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    Jun 24, 2009 7:13 PM GMT
    I read that yesterday. Really, really insightful. I felt like the writer was talking about me (one of the older guys), since I became sexually active in 1982 and am therefore old enough, just barely, to remember life before AIDS. I was one of those angry screaming hotheads in ACT UP, so the Kumbaya cheeriness of today's activists seems a little, uh, ineffectual, but hey, they are living the life that we fought for them to have. I wish there was a way for us to relate the struggle to them without coming off as preachy...
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    Jun 24, 2009 8:05 PM GMT
    As wise man once told me: "It is the children of explorers that kill exploration."

  • SanDiegoSon

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    Jun 24, 2009 8:48 PM GMT
    I wish there was a way for us to relate the struggle to them without coming off as preachy...

    I really like this statement because i think its key to bridging the divide. I work with lots of passionate young adults (many of them lgbt identified). I am encouraged by their passion, idealism, savvy, their tendency to be inclusive, their use of technology to achieve an end, and their boundless energy. I'm exhausted by their lack of awareness (self, interpersonal and systemic/institutional), their lack of knowledge about history (gay, racial, gender rights, etc) , their inability to understand the concept of incremental radicalism, and what i perceive (owning my perception) as a state of pseudocommunity that has replaced true bonds and connectedness that comes from actual (not virtual) interaction and shared experience.

    I was schooled by the "if you didn't walk with Malcolm and Martin you don't know shit" generation. I have taken many of those lessons to heart. But i'm learning alot from the GenX 'ers and Millennials. It's my job to remind them and myself that "my world view" was shaped by circumstances that people in their early 30's and 20's might not ever experience. At my best, i try to help them see the connections and the relevance of those experiences to their present day reality. At my worst, i have to remind them upon whose shoulders they stand!! icon_surprised.gif)

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    Jun 24, 2009 9:14 PM GMT
    Thanks for posting that. I have mixed feelings about it. In some ways, I feel like the author, being 45, is bending over backwards to be conciliatory, but I also think he's inappropriately reducing some differences in political style to generational causes.

    I was active in ACT UP from the beginning and the notion that the majority of older gay people were part of an angry political movement is very wrong. ACT UP people (and Queer Nation members) were continually bashed by the majority of more conservative gay people whose activism was limited to dressing up and going to the HRC banquet once a year. I never had a sense this was generational. The nastiest, most personal letter I ever received for something I wrote was from the head of the HRC, a contemporary, because I dared to criticize the organization's continual insistence that we not express differences in both political style and objectives. The united front thing.

    Another glaring problem with this essay is that it is absurdly male-centric. Because of feminism, women were far ahead of gay men in political activism, so there was a pretty huge gender gap then and, in my experience, it persists. In fact, this amazes me constantly. Gay women and trans men seem to have a far more sophisticated and thorough knowledge of gay history and political theories. This, I presume, is because feminism has made women's studies a subject of study longer than gay studies have been around.

    That also points to an understated role of the AIDS epidemic. The epidemic really did kill off huge numbers of the best and brightest of the community and, in the absence of the kind of personal mentoring and history projects that feminists (and African-Americans) started, a generation of gay men really did end up pretty ignorant of our history.

    So I think the essay is a bit reductive in what it ascribes to pure age difference.

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    Jun 24, 2009 10:27 PM GMT
    I like the article even though I agree it is a restricted view of the generational gap from a gay male relating to other gay males perspective.

    I'm a 27 year old male that has always had AIDS in his consciousness. It is very difficult for me to empathize with the contours of feelings about the activism before I was born, what that world was like, what it is was like to find love when the world was changing. I want to understand, but it is challenging. I've no idea how shattering that experience was to many people, but I would say that my experience of being gay and being a sexual being has always had the awareness of AIDS. It is hard to relate to coming into that knowledge, because I have always had it.

    As far as looking to the next generations, the ones not even born yet, the ones growing up in states where gay marriage is already legal and recognized, I wonder what their experience of being gay, being queer, being trans will be like. For me, I don't get angry and want to get arrested in protesting all the stuff for Prop 8. I don't look down upon people that choose to be physically reactive and get arrested. I go to the rallies, I cry, and I have hope that things will change.

    A dear clinical supervisor of mine said, "it is easier to get mad than it is to be sad." I disagree. Each of us feels our emotions differently and expresses them differently, there is no right way to be express our emotions. We can't fail at being human. Each of us does what we can.

    When older generations speak to me about the struggles for civil rights, I listen. When I become one of the older generation, I plan on listening to the youth about their struggles and their experiences. My place isn't to take credit for what has occurred, what rights I was able to secure for future generations, but to be present with the tides, knowing that each of us is doing the best we can, all the time.