Posted on April 24, 2011 by j3black
In a very recent interview to promote the revival of his play The Normal Heart, Larry Kramer accuses young gay men today of not caring about their history. Thomas Rogers challenges Kramer’s suggestion that lack of concern for history is unique to this generation, and offers his own experience to indicate that youth’s ignorance isn’t necessarily willful.
What’s surprising is that Kramer, who has a history of accusing people they don’t care about gay history, seems to get Rogers’ message, and the interview becomes an interesting and (kind of) endearing conversation about such macro-yet-micro topics as marriage equality and the difficulty older gay men face finding sex partners. And there’s a fascinating exchange about Kramer’s ongoing feud with Ed Koch, who lives in his building. Clearly, Kramer holds grudges, and it’s hard not to wonder how much of his famous anger stems from his personality rather than injustice. But I sense there’s more to him, that maybe he’s not simply shouting at the youth of today (read: anyone younger than he is) to get off his lawn.
The problem with gay men today, Kramer and Rogers come to agree, is that we currently lack a widespread life-or-death problem like HIV/AIDS was in the early 80s. Kramer remarks that there was a “special glow of importance” during that time, and Rogers says that, after seeing Kramer’s play, he felt a “perverse nostalgia for those early AIDS years [I] never lived through. They were obviously utterly terrifying and filled with sadness, but there’s also something appealing about having this galvanizing issue to unite gay men. We don’t have that as much now.”
This kind of myth is common and powerful, and not just in the LGBT community: Once upon a time, our group (pick any group) had a common enemy, and we united to fight it/them. We worked hard. We didn’t fight among ourselves. Life was beautiful then, but now, we’re a mess. The distance created by elapsed time or lack of firsthand experience really fucks with people’s depth perception.
I have some firsthand knowledge of those days that time hasn’t let me forget. I remember a lot of confusion and pain. We worried about stopping the spread of infection, although we weren’t sure that HIV was really the cause of AIDS. We resented that no one in the mainstream seemed to give a shit about the disease until kids became infected through transfusions.
Those of us not at the head of the movement who hadn’t had the resources and/or cowardice to flee mid-size cities or rural areas, lacked the “special glow of importance” Kramer recalls. We just wanted to keep our friends from dying. We wanted the luxury of taking them for granted rather than savoring every mundane moment in case it was the last.
Far from there being a glow, we lived in a shadow of suspicion of everyone, straight and queer, as if no amount of prophylaxis or abstinence would prevent us from contracting the disease. We struggled to push away the belief that we were worthless faggots who deserved to die. Continue reading
Filed under: activism, coming out, gay, gay marriage, grief, HIV/AIDS, lgbt, marriage equality, queer, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »
Posted on October 13, 2009 by j3black
While it seemed that everyone else at the National Equality March in DC wanted to see Lady Gaga, my Starstruck Moment happened when Lt. Dan Choi’s personal space overlapped the orbit of mine. There are a lot of people I respect, but I usually don’t lose my shit over any of them. Choi’s a rockstar. His golden aura blasted through my sunglasses, I shit you not.
Approaching the Capitol--Natl Equality March 2009
The person I’ll remember most held a sign that stated, “This Straight Woman Stands With You.” As I remember, she held the sign above her head. The vertical presentation struck me; she looked immovable. But she was alone. No one around her interacted with her. She appeared pleasant but unremarkable, someone I could pass in the grocery store and not give a second thought. The people near me cheered, and I cheered with them. The straight woman who stood with us gave a smile but seemed shy about the attention.
She made an impact on me, but I had to keep going. The day was about travel: By van and train and foot. From central PA to DC. From McPherson Square to the White House and on to the Capitol. From separation to unity. But not from discrimination to equality.
The March inspired me, but it’s too early to say what sort of historic significance it will have. If those who are throwing that term around believe it was precedent-setting, I’d argue it was decidedly unhistoric. Continue reading
Filed under: activism, blogging, celebrity, gay, lgbt, marriage equality, politics, popular culture, queer, Twitter | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 22, 2009 by j3black
The debate over marriage equality centers on the legitimacy of same-sex marriage. Opponents claim that our relationships are not natural.
I’m less and less convinced that all of them are that concerned about sex. Sure, imagining two men or two women having sex may be a big gross-out for some, but those people–a specific cohort of puritans, I would guess–believe it’s wrong for anybody to have any fun. They have imagined every possibility of what-goes-where and have generously overestimated the sexual repertoires of most everyone, regardless of orientation.
The cause of marriage equality is not well served by stereotyping our opponents, most of whom are probably more concerned than terrified. They feel that marriage can only be valid between a man and woman and is the basis of our society. Their feeling is strong enough that they resist reconsidering the definition, and are unwilling to consider the historical significance of same-sex relationships. When the divorce rate in the U.S. is mentioned, they claim that it has been grossly exaggerated. Etc. Etc. Since feelings motivate them, believing is seeing, and data is suspect.
What confuses many opponents of same-sex marriage is that our relationships are about a lot more than sex. Continue reading
Filed under: activism, gay, gender, lgbt, marriage equality, queer, realish | Leave a comment »