I just posted a review of Joining the Tribe
by Linnea Due to glbt_books
, but I couldn't post there why it is the book got me so riled up. You see, I too was coming out in the period when the book was written. I came out in high school. But unlike the people in the book, I didn't have internet connections, or support groups, or much of anything. All I had was a boyfriend who I loved, and friends who kept stabbing me in the back. I remember going to the County library, and finding three books concerning homosexuality, and all three of them were anti-faggot. I tried the high school library, but it didn't have anything. Hell, I did every report I could on AIDS, or gay rights, or anything I could find that was tangently related to being gay in America just to have the reassurance that there were other gay people out there. And I also donated much of the material I had bought to the High School library for them to use in their vertical file. I wanted so badly for anyone who came after me to be able to find that someone had gone before and had survived the process. I mean, I understand the isolation the kids express in the book quite well. I was there. But other than Mike, I had no one I could really trust in my immediate aquantences with anything that was important to me. Hell, the only reason I managed to get my shit together in the first place was a random camp encounter in 1991, where one of my counsellors was a lesbian. She actually ran a program on being gay. And it was then I finally got my shit together long enough to begin coming out. I owe Dakota Walker a lot for that.
Kind of funny. These days I have no qualms about picking up GLB lit or magazines, as long as they aren't pornographic.(I still have my isses with that. The way I figure, if I want porn, I have an internet connection.) I remember a time when it took all my courage, three trips to a store, and finally getting it in the middle of the night just to buy a copy of Out
And I get to college, and most of the people in Lambda have either been out quite successfully for a long time, or have just started coming out. And none of them could understand why I felt like I had been fighting for so long at 18.
And now, I look and see that one teacher has come out at Urbana. Yeah, I hear she went through hell, but where was she when I was being harrassed? Two is stronger than one. Yeah, the class four years behind me had a few same-sex couples, who have no fear of expressing it. Mike and I could never do that. Now, finally, my hometown is slowly acknowledging that it does indeed have gay people, and is actually taking steps to support them. But that wasn't there for me, or for Mike.
And I know that this is a good thing. Someday soon, no one will have to endure the hell of small-town fag-bashing, just as I actually had the power to come out in High School, instead of waiting until college, or until after being married and having kids. But it still hurts. And I find myself hoping that no one ever has to go through that again. And yet, I still see ignorence among people, I hear people screaming about fags going to hell. And I know that we still have so far to go.
And I'm sorry to take up bandwidth with what amounts to a "no one feels my pain" rant, but it's been building up for a while.