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Changing the world
one mind at a time
So far away, and yet look how far we've come. 
29th-Dec-2008 10:30 pm
I needed a gay icon
My earlier post today about the anti-bullying law proposal got me thinking about how much has changed since I came out more years ago than I care to contemplate.

I mean, seriously, when you look at it, gay rights have come one hell of a long way since 1969, 1981, 1990, hell even 2001. While gay rights have not progressed as far or as fast as the civil rights struggles of say, African-Americans, we still have made progress and continue to make progress even if we haven't fully realized all of our goals yet.

Don't believe me? Watch that 70's gem, The Boys in the Band. Billed as "A frank discussing about homosexuality", the characters are for the most part bad stereotypes and generally unhappy. "Show me a happy homosexual and I'll show you a dead homosexual" gets uttered at one point. Now compare that to some of the gay cinema that has been released this decade. The Broken Hearts Club, fer instance. No one dies of AIDS, most of the characters are out when the movie starts, no one dons drag... the characters are fully rounded individuals with problems just about everyone can relate to.

When I was a child, about the only openly gay character I can remember on TV was Billy Crystal's character on Soap. Who, as I recall, wound up married to a woman and having a child. Or Jim J. Bullock on Too Close for Comfort, in which I don't think his character was really ever acknowledged as gay. Or the jiggle fest that was Three's Company. Even there, the gay character wasn't even really gay. And most folks were watching it for the boobies on the blond.

Now, we have shows like Will & Grace and Brothers and Sisters and even Six Feet Under where the gay characters' sexuality is secondary to the plot line. Hell, I remember all the sniping about the character "Jack McFarland" on Will & Grace when it started up, but I think people finally realized that just about everyone knows someone just like Jack. We laughed with him and at his antics; we weren't laughing at his character because we thought ourselves to be superior to him. (I realize some folks point to Ellen as the starting point for TV comedy's gay inclusiveness, which it might have been. The problem I had with Ellen was that it wasn't that funny to begin with, and after she came out, it got even less funny. Not even Bruce Campbell's addition to the cast could save it.)

When I was coming out, gay rights were closely entwined with AIDS. We shifted to being able to serve our country in the military and now we've moved on to civil marriage.

We've gone from getting married to cover up our shameful desires to fighting to be able to marry the ones we truly love.

We've gone from closets to living rooms.

We've gone from being outcasts to being marginalized members of society. (Hey, it's still progress.)

We're now officially free to have sex without breaking a blue law.

While we as gay people are still not quite treated as equals, we're still a hell of a lot farther along the road to complete equality than we were. As much as I could wish things were moving faster, the changes that have occurred within the past 20 years or so should serve as a reassurance that we will eventually reach parity.

The fight for our rights is far from over. But we should acknowledge that we're still a hell of a lot better off then the generations that preceded us. Just as their struggles helped us get where we are now, our own struggles serve to pave a path for the generations of gay men and lesbians that will follow us.


I read with great interest and sadness the front page article titled "Bill aims to protect groups from bullying" in the December 29th edition of the News-Leader. It's kind of depressing to see that things have not changed that much in high schools since I came out about 15 years ago at my high school in Ohio. I remember all too well the torments and cat calls as I walked the halls from class to class. Thankfully, I also had a very good support network who stood by my side and with me during that period. And by the look of things, the new generation of gay youth are finding similar support and reasons for pride.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that perhaps I'm being too negative when I think about the progress gay rights have made since my own coming out days.

I mean, seriously, when you look at it, gay rights have come a long way since 1969, 1981, 1990, heck, even 2001. While gay rights have not progressed as far or as fast as the civil rights struggles of say, African-Americans, we still have made progress and continue to make progress even if we haven't fully realized all of our goals yet.

Don't believe me? Watch that 70's gem, The Boys in the Band. Billed as "A frank discussing about homosexuality", the characters are for the most part bad stereotypes and generally unhappy. "Show me a happy homosexual and I'll show you a dead homosexual" gets uttered at one point. Now compare that to some of the gay cinema that has been released this decade. The Broken Hearts Club, fer instance. No one dies of AIDS, most of the characters are out when the movie starts, no one dons drag... the characters are fully rounded individuals with problems just about everyone can relate to.

When I was a child, about the only openly gay character I can remember on TV was Billy Crystal's character on Soap. Who, as I recall, wound up married to a woman and having a child. Or Jim J. Bullock on Too Close for Comfort, in which I don't think his character was really ever acknowledged as gay. Or the jiggle fest that was Three's Company. Even there, the gay character wasn't even really gay.

Now, we have shows like Will & Grace and Brothers and Sisters and even Six Feet Under where the gay characters' sexuality is secondary to the plot line. I remember all the sniping about the character "Jack McFarland" on Will & Grace when it started up, but I think people finally realized that just about everyone knows someone just like Jack. We laughed with him and at his antics; we weren't laughing at his character because we thought ourselves to be superior to him. (I realize some folks point to Ellen as the starting point for TV comedy's gay inclusiveness, which it might have been. The problem I had with Ellen was that it wasn't that funny to begin with, and after she came out, it got even less funny. Not even Bruce Campbell's addition to the cast could save it.)

When I was coming out, gay rights were closely entwined with AIDS. We shifted to being able to serve our country in the military and now we've moved on to civil marriage.

We've gone from getting married to cover up our shameful desires to fighting to be able to marry the ones we truly love.

We've gone from closets to living rooms.

We've gone from being outcasts to being marginalized members of society. (Hey, it's still progress.)

We're now officially free to have intimate relations without breaking a blue law.

Many churches and temples that once condemned us have now opened their arms to us, invited us to join them in fellowship. We even have a denomination (Metropolitan Community Church) that was founded to give gays and lesbians a place to worship with a focus more on compassion than on judgment of others outside the congregation.

While we as gay people are still not quite treated as equals, we're still farther along the road to complete equality than we were. As much as I could wish things were moving faster, the changes that have occurred within the past 20 years or so should serve as a reassurance that we will eventually reach parity.

The fight for our rights is far from over. But we should acknowledge that we're still better off than the generations that preceded us. Just as their struggles helped us get to where we are now, our own struggles serve to pave a path for the generations of gay men and lesbians that will follow us.
Comments 
30th-Dec-2008 05:20 am (UTC)
Just don't live in Indiana!! It's against the law there to be gay, transexual and if you're not a Christian....oooh it gets even worse!
30th-Dec-2008 05:25 am (UTC)
LOL Indianapolis isn't that bad. But I rather imagine the rural areas (like the one I grew up in across the border in Ohio...) would be like a slice of hell.

Thankfully, Lawrence v Texas pretty much struck all the sodomy statutes from all the books nationwide. Which kind of shocked me, given the current leanings of SCOTUS. Mind you, they also ruled that the Boy Scouts can discriminate, but...
30th-Dec-2008 05:35 am (UTC)
I'll admit it's been a few years since I last went to Pan Pagan, which has been held in Indiana for some time now. But there was always a cop showing up, or the Troopers, to check us out. Idiots didn't take into account they were walking into a campground filled with pagans and amongst those pagans you can be guaranteed there's at least two or three empaths and telepaths. So by the time they got all the way through the gates..clothes were on in the clothing optional area, the flaming gays were nowhere to be seen, children would be found at one campsite sitting listening to an Elder telling them stories etc. AND we'd greet the law with smiling faces...quite willing to show them around.

One year I was working the registration sign in tent, spotted a car slowly coming in and quietly said "Law is here." Amazing how fast the word can get spread. They knew I knew.

That was also the year I learned just how little rights we had in that state. They had some asshole on the inside....we had him pegged from day one though...especially after he started spouting off his pontifical law attitude about things. And how we were all going to be arrested for deviancy. I firmly told him if anyone in my group was harmed, I'd hold him personally responsible and there'd be no place on this planet he could hide. Council threw him out the second day. Was the last time I went to Pan Pagan too.
30th-Dec-2008 05:43 am (UTC)
Well, yeah. Unfortunately just because something is decriminalized doesn't mean people can't find other excuses for pulling that kind of shit.

And it is kind of annoying to have to live up to a higher standard just to prove normality.
30th-Dec-2008 05:57 am (UTC)
Yeah but whom has the higher standards?? I've seen pagans with such high standards it would make your head spin...course they also walk around as if they've got a corn cob shoved up their ass.
30th-Dec-2008 06:15 am (UTC)
Maybe the corn cob is part of their sooper special family trad?;)
30th-Dec-2008 06:25 am (UTC)
*spitting out mouthful of coffee and cackling*
30th-Dec-2008 06:27 am (UTC)
*bows* I'll be here all night, tip your waitress and try the veal:)
30th-Dec-2008 06:54 am (UTC)
I'll tip the waitress, but I'm NOT eating the veal!!! ISHTE...your meal order has arrived. They forgot my broccoli though.
30th-Dec-2008 10:01 pm (UTC)
mmm veal. milk fed. yum.
31st-Dec-2008 12:37 am (UTC)
*swallowing hard....then reaching for the brown rice, tofu and fresh steamed vegetables*

30th-Dec-2008 05:25 am (UTC)
Really, I'm of the opinion that this one ought to be polished up and published. Not sure how much polish it really needs either.
30th-Dec-2008 05:34 am (UTC)
If I were to submit it, I'd have to take out all the "hells" and probably change the line about sex to "intimate relationships".

That and I'm not sure how well it would fly down here. While we have the 3rd largest gay population in MO, Springfield is still a bit reactionary when it comes to gay folks:)
30th-Dec-2008 05:36 am (UTC)
*snort* Face it hon....they're reactionary to anything not "Christian"
30th-Dec-2008 05:40 am (UTC)
That's changing, at a glacial pace, but it is changing. By far my favorite comment I've seen on the boards was one about how all the out of state Christians are changing the inclusive nature of Ozarks churches.

But I think that has more to do with the shift among the Evangelical fundies who seemed to have missed the message of compassion and instead let themselves think of themselves as judges of those heathens that surround them.
30th-Dec-2008 05:56 am (UTC)
Judging non Christians....oh yeah....I'm familiar with THAT attitude!
30th-Dec-2008 06:05 am (UTC)
Of course, given that most of the vocal athiests down here are just as bad...

I swear, I'm going to offer a free charm school for people down here.
30th-Dec-2008 06:10 am (UTC)
*ROTFLMAO*
30th-Dec-2008 06:22 am (UTC)
Ok, did some minor revisions and submitted this just for shits and giggles. Posted the revised version behind an lj cut in this same entry:)
30th-Dec-2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
Good, we'll be happy to hear about it getting published. hee.
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