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Guest rusticmonk86

Questions

Gabriel Duncan

If you're an elder: Did you have any positive gay role models to look up to when you were growing?

If you're an elder: Do you think you would be any better off now, if you would have had a positive role model?

If you're a kid: Do you look up to the other gay people to see what's normal and how you should act?

If you're a kid: Do you want to come out if the older folks are still closeted and deathly afraid of letting anyone know about that part of their lives?

Everyone: Isn't it just a little riduculous that grown men still haven't figure out that they control their lives?

Isn't it ridiculous that our role models are hiding beneath a pile of jackets?

Doesn't anyone else wonder how we'll ever be able to progress and change things when all of the people who matter have been hiding under the dining room table since the day they were born because they think the sky will fall?

You know, part of being an elder is the ability to guide by example. Part of being a tribe is living for the tribe and working for the tribe. It's time you've contributed your voice.

And this, isn't to you kids. I remember being a few years young (12) and being scared to death of coming out to my parents and friends. It's a really scary thing. I know that. But there are people who've done it, too, and actually gone through it. And they've come out happier. They are our elders, and it should be their duty to take us and guide us through this terrifying process.

But a 30 year old has no excuse to live in the closet. Well, you do. The only you've been hanging on to, "I'm scared." So was I. And everyone else I know who came out. But you have to grow some balls and do it. If you don?t do it for yourself, then do it for the rest of us.

This time I mean to come off like an asshole. This time I mean to tell you the terrible truth without being hidden behind clever prose or crafty play-of-words.

Your self-pitying dribble has gone on long enough.

You have a duty to all of us to make your voice heard. We are only seen when one of us dies. The media makes our only heroes the dead heroes. But a lot of us don?t realize, we?re all our own heroe. We are all here in a time where people hate us. We are the variables that have been ousted. We?re the uncounted population. We are under represented, under defended and over generalised. And it is your duty to stand up and scream, ?I?m here!? with the rest of us.

One stick alone is broken easily. But many, together are much stronger, and will not be broken as easily.

These aren?t just questions of personal strength. These aren?t even questions of personal worth. This is a question of your duty to tribe. We?ll stand by you because you stand by us. But we no longer wish to be your little secret.

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3 days before my 12th birthday the worse thing that could happen to a kid happened to me. I lost my entire family, except for my grandfather. in a terrible accident.

A few weeks after my 13th birithday, I had the worse thing that could happen to a teen happen to me. I realized I was gay.

I was raised in a tolerant and accepting family but i was still scared. Not of telling my gramps but that everyone else would know. Where did this fear come from? From the way I heard my peers talking. Where did they learn it? From their parents and other adults. Their parents and other adults learned it the same way. None of these people knew any gays so they believed what they heard.

But did they really not know any gays that could have disproved the lies? Of course they did. Everyone knows or has met gay people. It's almost

impossible, statistically, to have not. They just didn't know they had. If we don't show people the real face of our kind how can we ever hope for acceptance?

I did tell my gramps, the same day I figured out I was gay, and he gave me this advice.

If you're gay then be the best gay man you can be. Never let others make you feel ashamed of who you are and never give them reason to be ashamed of you.

I've tried my best to live up to those words. I'm completley out and have many great friends. With the exception of champ, they're all straight. I know there are other gay kids out there but they are scared because they don't have role models to give their feelings affirmative reinforcement.

The only thing they know for sure now is that they have to hide and be less than what they are....that's the only example they see.

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Gabe, you asked, so I'll try to answer.

Much of what you said is absolutely true. But consider this, please: Is it cowardice? It can be very hard to resolve the paradox between what your feelings say; versus your personal beliefs; versus the messages our culture gives us from all sides. If your personal beliefs can't make sense of the paradox, you're stuck. If your personal beliefs say it's wrong, you are in real trouble. If you are trying hard to forget the question or ignore your feelings, you aren't helping yourself solve the question. -- I mean "you" generally, not anyone in particular... except maybe me.

I appreciate what you intended by calling me an elder, but I don't feel much like some wise role model. My other posts explain some things about my confusion and my past experiences. -- I am making slow progress coming out, but it is difficult for me to adjust. I can talk online about it, and it's getting easier in real life, but in real life, it's hard to get past the wall I built up to protect my feelings.

OK, I'm going to answer some of those question Gabe raised.

Positive gay role models, when I was growing up? Are you kidding? I didn't know anyone personally who was gay. I knew a few friends who were accused of being gay. So was I. That didn't mean any of us were. You couldn't have gotten me to open up about my feelings by then, because I was confused and too stung and carrying around those past experiences and personal beliefs that were a paradox. Role models in public life, like celebrities or sports figures? What did any of them have to do with who we were? Too much of what I thought I knew about being gay, as a teen, were stereotypes. I was lucky, though, I knew stereotypes were wrong. I just didn't have any experience with the truth, except my own feelings, and those were inconclusive.

Would it have made any difference, if I'd had gay role models? If there had been one person who would have talked to me about being gay, it would've made a difference. If there had been even one friend who honestly wanted to know about me... I am not sure if I could've opened up. There were only a few chances when I might've. I didn't get the chance to find out, with one of those chances. In that one case, I would've said something, and might've found out if he felt the same. If there had been someone I could've felt safe talking to, who let me know it was really, genuinely, OK to talk about it, it would've made a huge difference in my life. If I'd had even one relationship that worked out, from friendship to love, that also would've made the same, huge difference. All that time in the closet made me cautious and much more uptight about it than I was in high school. I did stand up for friends. I just couldn't stand up for me. I would've needed some help, someone to stand up for me, too.

For that matter, it would've made a huge difference if there had been stories like the ones on AwesomeDude, DeweyWriter, or TheMailCrew to let me know, when I was a teen, that I wasn't the only one who felt that way, that it was OK, that there might be a way to make it work out or even have a relationship. -- If the web had been there, I would've looked, in private, furtively, eagerly. I would've been surprised and relieved when I found them.

Please remember, somewhere out there right now is some pre-teen or teen or college-age guy or girl who is carrying around these feelings, who doesn't know how to talk about it and is afraid to open up to anyone. They may be wondering if it's worth going on. They may be hurting from rejection by someone they thought was special or safe. Their personal situation may keep them from coming out. It may not be safe for them to, right then, until they can get a friend or a place that is safe.

I am very sure other guys my age have a different take on things.

Yes, there are also guys who came out and who did great with it. Yes, there are friends and relatives out there who will be supportive and understanding and loving. That is good.

I have been lucky so far, I have found out some friends were better friends than I could've imagined. You see, this simple fact, that I'm gay, that I liked other guys and wanted to love them, even after an experience that affected me deeply, that is the biggest, darkest secret of my life, the one thing I didn't know how to understand. For any of my friends and family to be OK with that, is more than I could've imagined growing up, or even now.

Maybe you've noticed from this post or others, that I am still in that stage where I need to talk about my own experiences. I think that is from lack of talking with anyone else about it much, and because this is something I've held inside for a long time. Otherwise, I'm generally pretty open and friendly and positive, I'd like to think.

I know one thing for sure: There ARE people who understand and who care and who will stand up for you out there. You CAN have a happy life, friends, and love, and a future.

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If you're an elder: Did you have any positive gay role models to look up to when you were growing?

Definitely not!

If you extend the question to "any" gay role models, positive or not, the answer is still NO. Growing up, I knew of no one who was gay and "out". The closest would be TV characters like "Mr Humphries" on "Are You Being Served" which I just can't consider to be role models at all (if you don't know the show, you're missing out on some excellent old British humour).

If you're an elder: Do you think you would be any better off now, if you would have had a positive role model?.

A much more difficult question for me to answer. I would say that my life would be very different to what I have now. As I've mentioned before, I'm a married gay man with two young children. I am also very much in the minority in that my marriage looks like it'll survive the crisis of my coming out to my wife -- the vast majority do not.

I can remember being in University and standing outside the door where the Gay and Lesbian society were holding a meeting... and not having the courage to open that door. In my defense, I will admit that at the time I was only seventeen -- I started University a few months before my seventeen birthday. I was very introverted and nervous as a teenager. This had nothing to do with my sexual orientation, but was more a consequence of being up to two years younger than the other students in my grade at school, as well as being probably the brightest student in that grade at that school.

If I had a positive gay role model, I probably would have had enough courage to open that door, and the life I would be living would bear no resemblence to what I have now. I certainly would never have gotten married.

As blue mentioned, the other big difference was that the internet did not exist, as such, at that point in time. We certainly didn't have a computer at home. This has made a significant difference to the environment in which we are living now. It had a MAJOR influence in my coming out to my wife.

Everyone: Isn't it just a little riduculous that grown men still haven't figure out that they control their lives?

I have to take objection to this, though I appreciate the intent of the question. A person's sexual orientation should not control their lives. I am working hard to ensure it doesn't control mine because I want to maintain what I have -- a happy marriage with two wonderful kids. I am controlling my life, and have been throughout my marriage. Part of that control has been, until last year, suppressing my sexual orientation. For me, this has not been an unhealthy thing but a decision I made as part of achieving the (happy) life I'm now living.

You know, part of being an elder is the ability to guide by example. Part of being a tribe is living for the tribe and working for the tribe. It's time you've contributed your voice.

Part of being an elder (gee, I'm suddenly feeling really old...) is also making sure the younger generation doesn't make the same mistakes that we made. While a sizable majority (I'm making a guess here, because no one has accurate figures on how many closeted homosexuals there are) have remained closest, there have been enough who have done what you have said, and that has resulted in a cultural change in today's society.

At this point, I will have to restrict myself to Australian society as I can't make these comments on other countries. Societies change their attitudes slowly. My favourite example is on the subject of drink-driving. When I was in my early twenties, drink-driving was socially acceptable (despite it being illegal). The concept of a designated driver was unknown, and any proposing something like that was considered a wuss: not a real "man" (apologies to any female readers, I'm just using my experiences as a male as an example).

In today's society, this has been completely turned around. Drink-driving is socially unacceptable, and any practices aimed at preventing it are deemed perfectly acceptable, and often even admirable.

Similarly, society's attitude to gays when I was in my early twenties bears no resemblence to the attitude today. Back then, the concept of even trying to debate the subject of same-sex marriages would have been inconceiveable. Today it is a valid debate, albeit one that we seem to be losing (for the moment). There are main stream TV shows with gay characters that are not all limp-wristed, lisping effeminates. There are gay festivals that attract widespread postive attention from the general community (the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Grai parade is the main one, but I also remember attending a simlar parade in Auckland, New Zealand when I was there for work once -- taken there by one of my straight workmates).

Now, if you want me to lead by example as an elder, I can teach how to live without mobile phones, computers, and email -- all things that have improved the quality and reach of communications in today's world, and hence have resulted in a broader and richer source of information and support than what was available when I grew up.

We couldn't even be having this discussion if the world was still the same as when I grew up -- my experiences, my examples are just not as relevant any more.

But a 30 year old has no excuse to live in the closet. Well, you do. The only you've been hanging on to, "I'm scared." So was I. And everyone else I know who came out. But you have to grow some balls and do it. If you don?t do it for yourself, then do it for the rest of us.

Again, I must respectively disagree. I have just discussed this very issue with my wife. My circumstances are unique, but then so is everyones. If I were to come out to the general community, this would impact on my family -- wife and two kids -- more than it would on me.

Because of the internet, I am ready to come out. I was not ready until I had access to this media, and could use it to understand myself better. However, now that I am ready, I am no longer in a position where I can do so without considering the impact on others. I would not only be coming out of the closet myself, but I would be dragging my wife and children out at the same time. This means it is not just my decision.

Yes, not everyone is in my situation. But when we were considering telling my family, the counsellor who was helping my wife cope with being married to a gay guy asked the question "Why?" . We didn't have an answer to that one, and we still don't. The only reason I had at the time was simply one of being honest. It would not have changed a thing -- my life would have continued on exactly as it was before. Since then, we have come up with two reasons to do so -- if I became a published author of gay fiction (just so we could boast :D), or if we learnt that one or more of our neices and nephews was gay and needed support.

In conclusion, I understand and appreciate the thrust of your post. I certainly do not disagree with the sentiments. All I can say is that the world is a very different place to what it was like when I grew up. The Internet is the number one difference that makes being gay a more comfortable thing than it was back then.

All of the above is my opinion only, based on my experiences. A lot of what I have said and my reasoning for my behaviour is unique to my circumstances and is probably not applicable to others.

Graeme

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I can remember being in University and standing outside the door where the Gay and Lesbian society were holding a meeting... and not having the courage to open that door.

When I was a college freshman, at 18, something called a "Gay Student Association" had just started on campus. It wasn't welcomed by most students. The building where meetings were held was right near a dorm. It was in the central Academic Quad. It was right by the Handicapped Services office, which I went to regularly. Just walking by one time, not even thinking about going in, some college guy shouted out from the window, at me, "go away, faggot." I carried a camera bag at that time for special telescopic glasses. It was the only possible reason I know of that he could've said that. It startled me and my shoulders shivered. It also made me mad that some stranger, a college student like me, on a campus known for its friendliness, could shout something so hateful, publicly (early afternoon) with no idea if I was gay or not.

By then, I was pretty sure I was gay, but I wouldn't know for sure until about a semester later. I thought about going there. I never went and stood outside the door. If I'd made it that far, I probably would've gone in. I was too withdrawn.

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You say, "Whine, whine whine. Grow some cajones." cajones = Spanish slang for balls

But that is how I was.

What did I really know about being gay? I knew doing things with another boy could hurt him or me, becaus that had happened when I was a pre-teen. I knew even looking at a friend could get rejection or comments. I knew I could be hit and called names. I knew I could miss a chance to find out if a friend felt the same way when my parents didn't let us go somewhere together. I knew friends or myself could be very publicly accused of being gay, without any evidence to my knowledge. I knew we could be invited to get beaten up. I knew a boy could be hurt in a cafeteria, simply walking down the aisle. I knew a classmate could commit suicide after being caught masturbating on campus, and I have no idea if he was gay. I knew students who were accused or suspected of being gay who moved away, although the stated reason was always that their parents were transferred, except in the case of the boy in the cafeteria.

There were no examples of gays or lesbians happy together for me to see. There was no one I knew who was openly gay. There was no one I knew who was gay but in the closet. There were over 500 students in my graduating class. I knew no one who would admit or who was known to be gay. (Alright, that may show how isolated I was more than anything.) If that 10% figure is right, that means 50 of us were hiding it or didn't know about ourselves yet or simply weren't known to me. That 50 might include a friend or two I stood up for. Maybe not. I find it curious that all but one of them signed my yearbooks.

I could barely check out any of the sections in the library that might have sex ed. information. My dad hardly discussed sex with me. There weren't "gay and lesbian" sections in an ordinary bookstore. The only place I could've gotten a gay novel or magazine would've been an adult bookstore. Do you really think you would've found me near one? I wouldn't have even looked for Playgirl or a guy's wrestling or swimming magazine. (Sorry for the stereotypes.)

The gay part of town? A gay club or bar? The irony is, I've been in that part of town often enough; my mother was an artist. But going there to meet other gay people would have meant going alone or getting someone to take me, which would've meant explaining it.

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I fully understand how you can be impatient and upset that people stay in the closet, and that the public at large can be so ugly to gay people. I even wish more of us, teens and adults, could get past those fears and come out.

I know posts like this make me sound whiney or hurt or bitter. I am simply saying how it was for me.

Our culture (Western society) sends mixed messages about sex at all. But it is considered acceptable for guys to do it with girls, and somewhat acceptable for girls to do it with guys. If it's solo, it's snickered at, but somewhat tolerated. If it's two guys or two girls...uh-oh. Things get very iffy then. All too often, the attitudes now are no different than when I grew up.

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Oh, never mind me, I'm just being gloomy and &itchy, I guess.

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Alright, I have a question for you guys, younger or older.

Does any of the stuff I'm saying sound familiar to you? Am I the only one who went through his teens or twenties or most of his thirties with such negative, confused feelings? Why the hell am I so "me" focussed in these posts, anyway? Why couldn't I have just stood up to those people in high school and said, yes, I think I am gay, get over it, and then dealt with whatever anyone, even my parents, said or did? ::SIGH:: I envy guys who did, a little. -- And what kind of example am I, as a moderator or any other way? Yes, I agree, it's discouraging to hear from someone like me, talking like this. F@$#. -- Move over, Gabe, I think I wanna join you at the "frustrated with all of us" table.

OK, that's more than one question, but...y'know.... :shrugs:

------

...And having said all that, I'd like to add that, yes, this is still the place for any of us to vent our feelings and try to settle things with people who have some idea of what it's like.

OK, y'all, lay it on me. Er...you know what I mean....

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First question answered: nope. didn't know anyone who was gay until i was 24 and moved to Seattle.

Second question: pro'ly not. I was raised an evangelical christian, and wasn't ready to come out, even at the point that i was dragged out of the closet.

Other points: There is no tribe. There's a common interest group...I'd like to see my rights as a gay man be the same as those who are straight, and i'd like to see that for all gay people. But a tribe? By no stretch of the imagination do i include all men who sleep with other men in my tribe. As a matter of enlightened self interest, i'm happy to work with others of my sexual orientation on gaining greater acceptance, but that's all it is.

Even if there were a tribe, no one owes anyone else the kind of currency that coming out prematurely can cost. It's a personal decision, and if it's not something one is comfortable doing, that's an end to it. I will draw a distinct line between that, however, and those who remain closeted while actively working against gay interests...that is unacceptable. Yeah, i know that an argument can be made for remaining closeted at all being a form of working against gay interests, but i'm not buying it.

cheers!

AJ

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Blue,

What you went through brought tears to my eyes but I think you illustrated what we are trying to say better than we did. You said you had no gay role models to help you through the confusion. Our point exactly. This cycle has to be broken or my generation is doomed too. Not only do we youth need to see gay adults living a normal everyday life but adults also need to see gays are not the monsters that they?ve been taught.

We aren?t stupid and to many times adults seem to forget that we have minds and can think on our own. We understand that celebrities and sports figures, gay or straight, aren?t role models?.they don?t lead the kind of lives most of us will. We need to see gay doctors, lawyers, mechanics, carpenters, teachers and business people. We need to see that being gay isn?t something to be ashamed of and that we have a future as gays.

Example is still the best teacher. You and Graeme both mentioned gay service clubs when you were in college. Maybe you were lucky you didn?t walk in that door. Let me tell you about an experience Champ, his older brother and I had last August with a well known gay group.

Gary (Champs brother) was going to start at a Southwestern university this last fall and had a chance to attend an event intended to introduce new students to the various activities available to them. He asked Champ and I if we?d like to go along as a birthday present to Champ.

Gary was aware of our relationship and was fine with us. We were the only two openly gay people he knew.

Our second day there, we were looking at the exhibits for the different groups and saw a sign for the gay group on a door. Gary stopped and said he thought he would be interested in joining the group to learn more about gays.

There were five guys in the room and when we came in they came up and introduced themselves. Gary introduced himself and then us as his two little brothers and told them he had a couple of gay friends and he thought he was interested in joining. He told them that he wanted to learn more about the gay lifestyle and gays in general. One of them told him, ?Honey, we can teach you all you want to know about the gay lifestyle and more.? Then the guy laughed like he was joking.

While Gary was talking to a couple of the guys, three of them surrounded Champ and I. They asked our ages and then started making really suggestive statements to us. I could feel my chair moving backwards and it stopped so I looked back and Champ had backed against a wall and had tears in his eyes.

He said he wanted to leave and so I called over to Gary and told him we wanted to go. By the time we got outside, Champ was crying harder and was so upset that he actually threw up on the lawn. When we finally got back to the car, Gary told us we were his brothers and he loved us but if we turned into those people he would be through with us. I told him all gays weren?t like those guys?.that there were a lot of good people that were gay. He said, ?Oh yea??..where are they??

I couldn?t give him an answer.

These freaks had taken a straight guy that would have gone to the wall for us and in five minutes had turned him into a guy who, at the best wasn?t interested in gay rights and at the worse was now slightly anti-gay. These are the type people giving us the need for good role models.

We younger guys have no one to look to see how to live our lives?..unless you want us to model ourselves after people like those guys. These seem to be our options?..follow the role models that we see our join all of you in hiding.

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OK, Codey, let me clarify a little.

Those examples in the paragraph that I started with "I knew" this and that -- I knew about each of those or saw them, and most of them, but not all, happened to me, so just read it carefully, and I think you'll be able to tell.

I let myself post something very negative and self-pitying. Shoot, I know better than that. That is not the me I am most of the time. It certainly isn't my best self. Usually, I'm optimistic. But it seems like I keep wanting to pour everything out in writing. If there's anything to learn from seeing that side of me, I suppose it is that we all get down on ourselves and on life sometimes. So don't let it bother you guys when you feel down or see someone else who is. Just help each other up, OK?

Change in society, in culture, is usually slow, but it does happen. Sometimes it happens all of a sudden. I mean, there are Gay-Straight Alliances in schools now, where gay and gay-friendly straight studens can get together to support each other, and they have the support of teachers and counselors who understand. There are roles on TV and the movies where gays and lesbians are no longer simply caricatures or villains or crazy. There are public figures who are publicly out. There are ordianry people who are out. They are quiet and they are normal, so ordinary, that you may not realize they are there, that they are role models.

I am coming out. I have to work against all that crap I've built up, and it means telling people I care about who may not accept it. But I reached a point where I knew I had to do something to make my life better. I wasn't quite ready to come out, and yet I was, I needed to, I had to. I will be out completely soon enough. But many people who've done it have told me very honestly that it is a continuous thing, and that I should come out on my own terms, and that I don't have to announce it to anyone, that being out is just being yourself. Being true to myself means telling the people I care about, though, and it is difficult for me to open up and tell them and then answer questions.

People like me are online, and we do things in real life. We don't want to be role models, really. We do it because we do remember what it was like to be that confused teen or that closeted adult -- someone who needed the very things you've pointed out. -- Something so simple as a friendly person or a good story. -- A few of the people online are even teens themselves. -- We are here because we are committed to making sure there are good things, a good future, for any person, youth or adult, so kids don't die needlessly or run away or get kicked out or beaten up or taken advantage of.

Yes, those guys at the group you met were being stupid and mean. They probably thought they were being funny or thought they were just teasing you and your friend or boyfriend and his older brother. But they were feeding that stereotype, they were acting out that stereotype, and they were doing damage to two gay minors and a straight but friendly guy. -- Just because those guys were in a gay group in college doesn't mean they were smart or had common sense. Often, college is the first time someone has been on their own to run their own life, and especially for gay people, it is often the first chance they've had to express themselves. So they get carried away and act immature or downright stupid sometimes. -- I don't know if it would help or not to write that club and tell them how they made you feel. There's just the chance it would make them stop and think about it.

Don't let it worry you what Gary might think. Chances are, he'll realize those guys were being idiots. I figure you already know they were idiots.

And trust me, I'd never call you girl or girlfriend unless you were a girl.

Cool?

-----

BTW, I really need to get a new avatar.

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We younger guys have no one to look to see how to live our lives?..unless you want us to model ourselves after people like those guys. These seem to be our options?..follow the role models that we see our join all of you in hiding.

Okay, I'm going to say something potentially controversial.

You're not really looking for a role model -- you are looking for society to acknowledge your sexuality and then ignore it.

If you are looking for a role model on what it means to be gay, then that means that "gay" is a lifestyle that you want to model you life on. I happen to disagree with this. "Gay" is not a lifestyle; it is a sexual orientation.

There are gay "ghettos" around the world. I happen to work within walking distance of Melbourne's "Pink Mile," as one radio commentator called it. Even if I wasn't married, I would still probably only visit it a few times because I'm not a nightclubber, and never have been. It caters for a small subset of the "gay community" but it's the only visible sign so a lot of people think that this is what it means to be "gay".

Codey mentioned gay doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. Well they are out there. The thing is that their sexual orientation has nothing to do with their occupation. For some, they may be deliberately trying to keep it a secret. This can be legitimate -- teachers in particular have to avoid any potential sexual situation, regardless of their sexuality -- though I accept for many it's due to fear.

Would I expect a doctor, lawyer, plumber, motor mechanic or shop owner to declare their sexuality? Of course not! If I was a friend, that would be different, but as part of their working life?

Now, society frowns on homosexual unions, but it is not a blanket, across-the-board attitude. While I have some lawyer friends who make jokes about one of our High Court judges (the Australian equivalent of the USA Supreme Courth), the fact that he is a homosexual, and has been in a commited relationship for over thirty years is reasonably widely known and they do not disparage him because of that. They equally make jokes about a number of other judges for other reasons. It is clear that they do it for humour, not to denigrate the judge as a person.

Similarly, until recently the head of the Australian Medical Association (the doctors' chief lobby group) was a lesbian who has been in a commited relationship for many years. This has been reported, without signficant comment, in the media for a few years now.

The current head of the Australian Greens is widely known as a homosexual in a long term commited relationship. I have never heard this used against him or his party (with the exception of the occassional loony letter writer to the newspapers).

When the Australian Democrats (another minor political party) were going through a leadership crisis recently, another "out" homosexual was touted as a potential leader for the party in the mainstream media. His sexuality was mentioned, but was never made a focus.

So there are four prominent Australians in the public eye whose sexuality has been published in the mainstream media. In every case, their sexual orientation has not been put forward negatively, but is usually as a side comment, or neutrally reported (such as when the High Court Judge received an honorary award and made mention in his speech that it was the first time that his partner had ever attended one of these events -- his comments were reported without editorial addition).

These are not role models, but simply examples of what we all want -- that our sexuality becomes a non-issue as far as society is concerned.

My opinion only, as always :D

Graeme

PS: On a personal note, I was also a member of the University's Dungeons and Dragons club. One of the club presidents while I was there was generally suspected as being gay, but it wasn't an issue. He did an excellent job as president of the club and I never heard anyone make any significant comment about his sexuality -- it was irrelevant as far as the club was concerned. I believe he may have been a member of the Gay and Lesbian society, in which case I wouldn't have expected it to be like the one Codey mentioned. I also remember that they had a stand at the Orientation Day before I started, but as a sixteen-year-old, I didn't have the nerve to go up and speak to them.

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I didn't get to finish my earlier post, as i had to go to a birthday dinner, so let me finish it now. I feel like i need to comment very briefly on what i wrote before: the tone in that post was designed to be similar to Gabriel's post--blunt and tough. I'm not usually that 'gloves off' in my posts. So let me finish what i was saying...

Gay role models for youth...I actually disagree with Aussie here a bit. I think it's important for gay kids to know that there are a lot of us who are just average people, going about our business in a well adjusted way out here. Unfortunately, going about one's business in a well adjusted way tends to make one invisible, and sort of defeats the intent of being a role model. But making an issue of being gay, thus being more visible and becoming a viable role model, means that we're not going about our business in a well adjusted way. Catch-22. So what do we do about that? Leave it up to the Queens who walk around in wigs and heels or leather harnesses and chaps to be the only visible queers that kids will know about? That defeats the purpose as well.

So what do i do about this problem? Well, being an online presence and talking to teens is part of my solution...and not getting offended when i get accused of having ulterior motives when my only desire is to make life just a little bit easier for a troubled gay kid is an acceptable consequence, though it always hurts a little. Still, as Soren Kierkegaard said, "Do the good and damn the consequences."

Additionally, I volunteer my time and money to Lambert House here in Seattle, which is a drop in center for GLBT youth, from 13 to 21. I usually can be found up in the computer center, helping kids with homework and the like, because i'm not very good at just hanging out and listening to what passes for music with the teen age set :D

And finally, I live in a large house that my best friend and i own and run as a boarding house, in the middle of the gay ghetto--that's Capitol Hill, in Seattle. We are both gay, and we rent our rooms to a variety of people, mostly younger, and of a variety of sexual orientations. My friend and financial partner and I act as role models of typical, middle class working gays to our renters, some of whom have never lived around gay people before...both the straight and gay ones.

So i guess what i'm trying to say is that sometimes, one doesn't have to throw a parade to be a role model. Simply by quietly going about one's business and touching lives in a positive way, one can do good and combat a little of the homophobia in the world.

cheers!

aj

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Gabe:

Ask anyone who really knows me, and you will hear the phrase "professional asshole" in regard to some of my personality. Your post has pissed me off for the last two weeks since I first read it. I have been trying to moderate my response to it during the intervening period, but there remains some persistent vitriol.

Wake up! Take a look around! People live in the closet for some very good reasons.

I live in a state that recently modified its consitution to allow for discrimination. I live in a state where "gay bashing", both verbal and physical, is more common than what is reported. I live in a state where a person can get fired from a job because of sexual orientation, and there is little recourse to the action. Gay people can be and are denied housing for the same reasons. Anti-discrimination laws regarding sexuality routinely fail at local levels. The backlash to popular culture of television and movies swept through my area like the plague. There are few safe havens in my state. "Gay Ghettos" can be found, and only one city has a truly tolerant attitude. The rest ignore the issues at best, and don't care when people are hurt by the puritanical measures.

I dare you to come where I live and flaunt your sexuality. I live a scant 25 miles from the epicenter of the Ku Klux Klan in my state, and they are very real and very terrifying. There is a line blacks, Jews, and gays will not cross because it puts their very lives in peril. The worst part is the homophobia spreads like a head cold. Four years ago we had two men who were beaten outside of a gay bar. One died, and the other is permanently disabled. The news barely made the front page, and the trial regularly failed to gain attention. The Op/Ed pieces treated it as whimsy, and the Letters to the Editor frequently said the men had brought it upon themselves. Now, if you are a 17-year old kid in this state or an adult, that closet looks like a mighty safe place.

I dare you to seek martyrdom to the cause. Come out here and get killed so that others may live free. You will not be around, however, to witness the apathy with which your case is treated. Furthermore, you will not hear the coffee house or restaraunt conversations that place the blame squarely on your shoulders for making such a big deal out of being a "fag." You will missed the agonozing slowness with which the system does little to amend the current poltical trend to treat your situation as deserving. You will not see how quickly only lip-service is paid to the tragedy of your death, and then the world will continue to spin without you and with no regard for the loss of your life.

I have heard the conversations. I have seen what happens. I understand the fear within which people live. Yes, there are those brave souls who weather the storm from time to time in the exceptional places where such a stand will afford them some protection. What is interesting to note is how quickly they abandon this state and seek lives elsewhere. There is a huge difference between "self-pitying dribble" and honest fear. You do a tremendous disservice to those who live in locales where there is much to fear, and it is not based on self-hatred. That is a gross over-simplification of the situation.

There is a reality you are flagrantly trying to brush aside, and I take umbrage to it. I live in the reality you think is so easily altered. As a comparison, take the African-America civil rights movement. It began long before the Civil War, and it is still being faught. The Stonewall Riots were a scant 35 years ago, and that served as the first battle cry. Society is reacting very poorly to the recent wave of "gay themed" entertainment. Have you forgotten that GW Bush won the election on the grounds of "God, Guns, and Gays?" There were other factors, but those three listed right up there. The election was labeled a "Morals War", and over half the people in this country sided with Bush. Wake the fuck up! Take a look around. 16 states now actively ban same sex marriage because it is viewed as a threat to our society. Guess what? You and I are viewed as a threat to society. People around me pound the Bible and scream "God Hates Fags!" They back up their words with guns, and there are more than a few who are willing to cross the line of civility into barbarism.

Come spend a year where I live, and then see how far you will reteat into the closet. You won't even noticie you are doing it. The sad fact is that it would happen to you in more places than not. Your post pisses me off because you fail to recognize that some of us have to work very carefully in advancing the cause. I have to plot each step I take, carefully considering the consequences. I have one leg outside of the closet, and it's already been kicked a couple of times. When I want to go and experience who and what I am, I have to seek out the gay ghettos and move in cloistered circles. I participated, twice now, in the incautious act of attending the anual gay pride celebration in my state capital. It is video taped and broadcast in some parts of the state on the main news channels. Part of mind has senses I was "laid off" from my job because they suspected I am gay. Certain comments were made to me that announced what was being thought.

"You just don't seem to be the right type of person to work in this office."

What the hell? I did five jobs in the office that they still cannot fill. There were some economic reasons for my lay-off, but it was funny how they managed to hire another programmer a month after my departure. I know I also foolishly checked my web site from time to time, and I know the Internet logs were examined on a regular basis. Hmm? What is this DrakeTales, and why would this guy be visiting it? I am not a paranoid person by inclination, but I can see the writing on the wall. My lay-off was nice, neat, and polite, yet there are aspects to it that are beyond suspicious.

Okay, Gabe, come and live in my neck of the woods for a year, and then let's see if you feel the same. I am reacting for every person who read what you posted and shook their heads in disbelief. Control is a touchy subject, especially when you can't control the actions of others.

Drake

PS: Please don't take this a moronic statement, but my rant was not entirely a personal attack on you. Far from it. I think it is important that this type of dialog takes place. I do thank you for your post. It made me think... again.

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Bravo AJ....you are exactly the type person we teens need to see. I don't mean anyone should wear a sign around their neck that they are gay. I mean that we need to see normal everyday people going about their lives and that only a part of that life is their sexual orientation.

I think part of the reason I can't seem to make my point is cultural. I dont know where you all grew up but the largest town I have ever lived in was 7000 people and there for only a few months. Other than that, I only have lived in a town of under 2000 or in a rural setting.

In the town I lived my first twelve years, We would have seen the gay doctors etc because everyone knows everyone else. But as soon as they're able the gay people move off to one of the larger cities because they are afraid of what people in town would say to them.

In the cities like where you live there are places gay teens can go but where I live there isn't so we look to the gays we do see....the ones that

we see on TV or read about in the paper.....I don't want to be like them and I wont.

Blue, I don't want you to think I'm comiing down on you because I'm not. I admire you for keeping sane after all you've been through. And I admire you for the fact that you're coming out at a pace that's comfortable and right for you. Your friends are right about everyones coming out is different. The way I came out could have been a disaster for another teen. I would never tell any kid to come out....we are to dependent on the adults in our lives and have so much more to risk than an adult thinking about coming out.

Champ and I have been talking about this and we've come to the conclusion that by the time you reach a point where you can be independent, you've lived half, or maybe more, of your life in fear of being found out and having to hide who you really are. You've gotten friends that you don't want to lose. The fear and hiding have become second nature to you and it would be hard to make the change.

Personally I think that if I had friends I had reason to doubt would accept the real me then I wouldn't consider them to be good friends. On the other hand, If I had friends I had no reason to doubt would accept me and I stayed hidden, then I wouldn't be a good friend to them.

We all are looking for that certain someone we could love and be loved by. I think I've found mine but we both know w're to young to know for sure. Things have a way of changing at our age. How do you know you haven't met that someone but because you were both hidden and afraid of rejection, you just drifted away from eachother? Champ has told me that if he hadn't known I was gay he never would have told me the way he felt.

Graeme...You've said in other posts that it was a mistake to get married. I disagree with that. You married for love and it's obvious the way you and Dewey talk about your wives and kids that you still love your wives.

I don't think who you love is as important as how you love.

I can identify with your wife and her feelings. Champ is mostly straight and I live with the fear, everyday, that he will meet a girl and fall in love with her. If he does, I hope I'm strong enough to let him go. Love isn't only about our feelings but is more about the desire to want what our partners need to be happy.

One question Champ and I both have is how you and Dewey will handle the gay part of your lives as far as your kids are concerned. Will you tell them when they're old enough to understand or keep it a secret from them?

Codey

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There is a reality you are flagrantly trying to brush aside, and I take umbrage to it. I live in the reality you think is so easily altered. As a comparison, take the African-America civil rights movement. It began long before the Civil War, and it is still being faught. The Stonewall Riots were a scant 35 years ago, and that served as the first battle cry.

The blacks have been fighting for a couple hundred years. We've been struggling since the dawn of history.....not just the 35 years since Stonewall.

Where has caution and fear gotten us in these milliniums?

Adults have options that we kids don't. What is keeping you in this place that you fear so much? Move to a safer place and be your self. The kids in your area that are gay are going to be leaving as soon as they possibly can too.

I was reading some past inaugural speeches yesterday ( I know it's nerdy but that's part of who I am too :lol: ) and I waas readding Reagan's speech from his second term. One line in that speech grabbed me so hard in light of this thread that I don't remember any other part of that speech.

"I'f not us, who? If not now, when?"

Codey

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Whoa, Whoa, Whoa! ~ Blue puts on his admin / moderator hat. (I have just read Drake's reply, but not yet the replies by aj and codeyspen.)

Calm down, you all.

RusticMonk is well acquainted with the darker side of gay life, as he was abused earlier in life. (I'm sorry, Gabe, to bring that up, but I think it needed to be said.)

Everyone here is entitled to their opinion. You are all entitled to state it strongly. But you must tolerate each other's right to that opinion, and you must remember that every person here brings their past and present to the board, and that sometimes includes things they don't mention, such as past abuse, being closeted, physical abilities, age... many things. Those are the things we don't talk about, because they are just too much, although sometimes we need to talk.

And there is not one of us here who has not heard ugly words or had ugly things done towards us or our loved ones, just because they are different in their sexual feelings.

Despite strong words, I do not believe anyone here meant to be offensive or hurtful.

So we cannot go past a certain line in how we talk to each other.

I do not mean that any of you should delete your posts. ~ That makes people wonder why things were deleted, and who deleted them. It also means the full story isn't there, so that others can learn from it.

I do not want people to get so unhappy that they don't want to come here and participate.

-----

Not a tribe? We are here by choice, together, with common interests and some feelings in common. Some of us have families, some of us don't, some of us aren't sure of our friends. So when we find people like us, we are connected. -- No, not everyone we meet who's gay is a good person. -- But most of us are just regular folks.

I'm pretty sure we're all human here. That does make us a tribe. And if the occasional extraterrestrial drops in for a visit, well, coolness.

-----

"We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." -- Dr. Benjamin Franklin

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Firstly, to Blue:

This thread, while getting a touch heated, is being discussed in an intelligent and reasonable manner. Even when it's being heated, most of the anger is being directed at society, rather than the individual posters. While your post was timely -- I was beginning to think something along those lines may be needed -- I believe everyone here is intelligent and mature enough to continue this disucssion in the vein intended.

Next:

Graeme...You've said in other posts that it was a mistake to get married. I disagree with that. You married for love and it's obvious the way you and Dewey talk about your wives and kids that you still love your wives.

I don't think who you love is as important as how you love.

I can identify with your wife and her feelings. Champ is mostly straight and I live with the fear, everyday, that he will meet a girl and fall in love with her. If he does, I hope I'm strong enough to let him go. Love isn't only about our feelings but is more about the desire to want what our partners need to be happy.

One question Champ and I both have is how you and Dewey will handle the gay part of your lives as far as your kids are concerned. Will you tell them when they're old enough to understand or keep it a secret from them?

I need to clarify my situation. I do not regret marrying my wife. However, I was unable to make it clear to her that I was gay before she fell in love with me. My one attempt to tell her before we got married was too late. She's since told me that she was too much in love with me for her to understand what I told/showed her. She also believed that a gay man wouldn't/couldn't marry a straight girl, and so I mustn't be really gay.

The truth was devestating. She recently informed me that she seriously considered suicide after I came out to her. This is with two pre-school children dependent on her -- that's how badly it affected her. If she had been just a little bit more depressed that day, my life would be very different now. That is why I keep saying that getting married was a mistake. The cost was very close to being too high.

My statements have been aimed at the general situation. Gay men should not marry straight women. Gay women should not marry straight men. The pain it causes is incredible when the truth comes out. If you are really interested in how much pain is causes, I can direct you to a message board that is dedicated to straight spouses in exactly this situation. I am merely lucky in that (a) my wife loves me enough to try to get past this pain, and (b) I believe I have enough self-control to ensure that I do not stray. While I consider myself to be gay, for my marriage to work I am and will continue to be celibate as far as gay sex is concerned.

As for our children, we believe they have to know. We don't know yet at what age we'll sit them down and explain it to them, but because we hold conversations over the dinner table about these message boards, about my stories, and talk about future story plots, we hope they will pick up a general positive attitude on sexuality, as well as having a good idea that I'm gay, even before we explicitly tell them.

Graeme

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Blue, I don't want you to think I'm comiing down on you because I'm not.

Honest criticism and discussion are fine by me. That's why this place is here; well, one part anyway.

-----

The points you addressed to the group:

About friends' reactions to a person coming out, or about integrity as a friend by coming out to others:

-- Yes, that one of the things that make it so difficult to judge whether to come out. When you're closeted, you're worried what friends might think, because you don't quite know. When you come out, you risk their reactions. Yes, you get used to hiding it and to expecting they won't understand. That relates to self-image, too. Expecting someone who knows you not to understand implies you have some small doubt if it's right. Getting past that takes work.

About missing that special someone:

-- You've probably heard the expression, "two ships passing in the night." Sure, that's a concern. What if the friend I mentioned did have feelings for me or would've been OK with us doing something? More likely, he just wanted to talk and have fun that day, like usual. (We missed that too, just as importantly.) What if those other friends, with whom I didn't do anything, needed were gay and needed support, beyond having someone speak up? -- Those are what-if's that get to us if we let 'em. It's just because I'm looking back over things, trying to figure them out, that I'd wonder about it so much. -- We can't let those worries or fears keep us from living or looking for that special someone. I'm enough of a romantic to think that you'll find the right person, if it's meant to be. ( :: rolls eyes at self :: )

I've looked online a couple of times, to see if I could find them. Results weren't clear enough, without really doing a paid search. I found out there are a lot of people with those names! I know some of them definitely aren't the guys I knew.

But yeah, it's maddening to think that just because people don't say or don't ask, or hide it, they might miss that special person.

-----

Um, Graeme didn't really say he thought it was a mistake for him to marry. If he'd known about himself and accepted it sooner, he would've been a different person.

I'm single, but if I'd accepted myself back in high school or college, I would've had an entirely different life. Yeah, that bothers me if I let it. But the truth is, I wasn't ready, and now I have the chance to be the real me, the complete me.

I know some friends in person who are out and have kids from prior marriages, and they wouldn't trade their kids or the time they had happily married, for anything. I want to ask them how they handle it with their kids, since some are grown and some are still at home. But from what I've seen, their kids are fine with it; they are just careful about what they say and when. That is just being sensible and safe. One of those kids was very little at first, and grew up with it.

-----

About whether your boyfriend might meet someone else, a girl or a guy, and move on:

-- Everything in life can change in an instant. So enjoy the good parts and work through the bad parts. -- Don't worry that he might find someone else. Be glad that you and he are together and enjoy it. If both of you work at it and love each other, you'll stay together.

-- "Mostly straight?" If you mean he mostly likes girls and likes guys somewhat, well, that's possible. It's also possible he's perfectly fine with the right guy and not interested in any other guy or girl. If you mean he doesn't "act gay," um... then you'd have to define what "acting gay" means to you. If it means all those stereotypical things about how gays are supposed to act, then you have to rethink that. Yes, I have occasionally caught myself being too concerned about something I did. Mostly, though, I realized a long time ago, thanks to one of those friends I spoke up for, that it doesn't matter and I can't help being me. I just didn't finish learning the whole lesson. (Thanks, T.H., wherever you are.)

-----

"millenium (singular) ~ millenia (plural)" ~ sorry, it's the proofreader in me; I usually try not to say anything in posts;

------

Point taken, Codey, but you're oversimplifying a little. I'll let you in on two of the secrets of adult life:

1. The main difference between being under 18 and over 18 is experience. In other words, we "adults" don't have everything all figured out either, we just have been through more stuff and so we know more about what works and what doesn't and how to deal with things. We still have questions. We work out the answers as we go along. I know some teens who are better at it than adults, and some adults who act like kids, whether in a good way or not.

"Plan, what plan? I'm makin' this up as I go along!" -- Indiana Jones

2. Making a big change, like moving or getting a new job -- or coming out -- takes a lot to get it done. Sometimes it's simple and easy, and yeah, maybe it really is simpler than we think. But usually, there's a lot that's affected by a big change. It takes time and money and reorganizing. We try to plan it and work through it. See also: Cover Your Ass. If it's a sudden, unexpected change, it's called Getting Caught With Your Pants Down. -- O' course, I s'pose, with the right person, that might not be such a bad thing. -- OK, that last was a dumb joke. Just tryin' to lighten it up around here.

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You know, I think what we're seeing from everybody in this thread is part of the same thing, really. (Oh, rats, there he goes on some essay....)

We're all expressing frustration at ourselves, at each other, at society in general.

Why the **** should it be such a big deal, after all, we ask?

All that homophobia, when we're just like other people, except we happen to love people of our own sex, or both sexes, instead of the opposite sex. Yes, it's possible for us to love people of the opposite sex, but we just have these other feelings instead.

All those stupid stereotypes. It's really bad when they are perpetuated. OK, there's a grain of truth to some of them, but some of them are just flat wrong.

All those buzzwords! GLBT? That's not a word, it's alphabet soup. Gay-friendly? I should hope so. Straight? Implying right or good or not "bent?" Excuse me? I knew what my feelings were; I shouldn't have had to wonder if they were "unnatural" or "sinful" or "not viable in reproduction and evolution." Bleh.

All those words for being gay. I don't like most of them. Gay is an alright word. Most of the others imply something or are too often used to hurt. People talk about "reclaiming" those words. People do use them just to take the sting out of them. I don't know, they still seem bad. It's the same wrong-headed thinking, in my opinion, as when people use the word "n*g**r." Even "queer," which is popular lately, implies difference in a strange and negative way. Queer or "queer bait" were not nice words when I grew up. -- I don't know, maybe about the words, I'm just being too sensitive.

Please note: this post was just to blow off a little steam. I think we really are expressing different sides of the same issue.

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I can understand both sides as I am sure most of us can. Its hard and some people in life are just ignorant. I'm 22, so I'm really not a kid nor would I call myself an elder(or let anyone else :wink: ). I'm still not really out but over the last year I've started to take steps. I can't or won't look down on anyone who chooses to hide, how can I? I lived with the fear and let it control for along time. Every single choice I made from the age of 11 until 20 was based on hiding myself. It crippled me and I didn't even know it.

I realized I was gay when I turned 11, I really didn't understand it or like it or myself for along time. Then one day I almost came out to my best friend who I knew since I was 4, we were in 7th grade and watching a repeat of "My so called life" where the gay kids comes out to his friends, I asked my friend what he would do if "so and so" a mutual friend said he was gay and my friend said "I'd punch him and never talk to him again". now looking back on it if he would have asked me I may have said the same thing, but his words scared the hell out of me and really messed up my thinking for along time. By time I was a Junior in High school I had stopped hanging out with any of my friends and became anti-sociable. I spent all my time away from school in my room or at work. By time I graduated I had no real relationships in my life and believe it not was happy that way, less work in hiding myself.

When I turned 20 I started hanging out with my brother a found out he actually had two very good gay friends and I realized what a moron I was, and at work I met guy(straight :cry: ) that I just fell hard for, and that was the final push I needed that really showed me how dead my feelings were and I needed to make changes or I'd never be happy. So as I said in another post I told my brother, have met and made friends of a few gay guys and girls, and hoping to tell my Mom in the next few weeks. For the first time since I was 10 I am happy, but as scared, alone, and just miserable as I was, I didn't even know it and it took events to wake me up, and if they didn't happen I may still be playing dead.

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It's as if 11 or 12 are a magic number for when boys' (or gay boys') sexual feelings wake up. And nobody sent me an owl....

I didn't quite realize I was gay throughout my teens, despite the clues. I just didn't want to face it, I think.

More to the point maybe, I wonder if it's just chance, why some of us have positive or harmless experiences with friends, and some of us come out then; but others of us have negative experiences or just withdraw into ourselves.

So the question is, what was it that made those guys' experiences positive and successful? That could help others see what worked. What would've made other guy's experiences less negative?

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Guest rusticmonk86

Drake:

I can appreciate the description of the world you live in. Quite honestly, give me the fucking gun and I'm in. I'm not a peaceful person by far, and I would be more than happy to kill all of the KKK with nothing more than my teeth if they even scowled at me. I?ve beat the fuck out of discriminatory asshole before.

I am someone who will not be brushed to the side of obscurity or shat upon because someone doesn?t like me.

Granted, there are people like you who are too scared to actually fight the fight that needs to be fought. And the fear of one's own life is a very good reason to play possum.

I'm not trying to brush aside reality, Drake. Not even yours.

But it is this easy to create change. And it is this easy to keep it going. The truth is: all of us can do it. We already are.

They don't understand us, so they fear us, they hate us because they experience both, and we have power over them because of all of those things.

I don't think it is right to push conscientious objectors onto the battle field. And if that?s what you want to be, I?m okay with it.

In a very frank sort of reality, this is war. We are being killed and they are being imprisoned. I'd gladly come to your place of residence as long as you don't mind me bringing a few friends and some sand bags. (Am I kidding?)

Don't worry. We'll fight your war for you. If you ever see the day that we are treated fairly, remember it was the kids who did it.

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BE NICE! Don't let this become a flame war.

People in the closet are NOT the enemy. Straight people are not the enemy, either. Ignorance, hate, fear, misunderstanding, and closed minds are the enemy.

I do not want to see two gifted artist/writers snipe at one another.

We win nothing by dividing against each other.

We are on the same side. We just have different ideas of how to accomplish the goal.

This is the kind of fight that is won by words and ideas, by convincing others that their ideas and beliefs need to change; by demonsrating through everyday example that who we are matters, that we are not the things homophobic people fear.

It's won by being those examples and role models we all were talking about. A role model doesn't have to be an "elder" either. It can be a teen who's concerned, who's worked up enough to do something good.

This is a stormy time, but keep in mind that the storms of the Civil Rights movement included some crushing defeats before things got better. But things did get better.

We win by building on the progress of those before us. We win by building on each other's progress. We win by working together, individuals, pairs, groups, whatever.

Think it through, please, everyone.

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Dear Gabriel,

While I appreciate the intent of your post, I must disagree on some of the detail of what you have proposed.

I am happy to agree that this is a war. At this point I start to draw on the experience of one my best friends, who is not only a history war buff, but an experienced wargamer.

In any war, you have to have clear objectives. In this one, there are two that I can see. The first is the acquisition of legal rights. The second is a positive change in societal attitude.

Now, when resources are limited, you can not afford to fight every battle. All that does is drain your resources and leaves you weak and exhausted. You must pick your battles, choosing those which you have a reasonable chance of winning. You must also avoid battles where the cost of winning is too high. Above all, you must keep your focus on your eventual goals. Attack the opponent's weakness, not their strengths.

All of this is common sense, as I'm sure you'll agree. But what does this mean in relation to your post?

While your suggestion of going to help Drake in his area is admirable, it is unlikely to be productive. The same resources used in a less militant area has a higher chance of success with a lower risk of casualties. A success will also potentially allow us an increase in resources as more gay men and women become confident to come out of the closet. Only when our forces have been built to a signficant degree should we tackle the more difficult areas head on.

The other thing that must be remembered is that societal change is slow. I gave the example in my earlier post about attitudes to drink driving changing over a twenty year period. If you reflect over the last twenty years, you will see progress. The simpliest example is the gay marriage debate. Twenty years ago it would have been inconceivable. Today, society can conceive it. It is also an example of a fight that I believe we should not be having, yet. The underlying society support for the idea has not developed far enough yet, and by pushing ahead too hard, we are receiving a backlash in response.

Yes, it is slower progress than we like. Yes, there are still areas, like where Drake lives, where attitudes are particularly bad. However, the entire country is not like that. What we need to do is to bolster the areas where attitudes are tolerant, and work to expand them. Start to move them out from the cities and into the countryside. Only then we start to win this war. Otherwise we risk a divide and conqueor strategy against us.

There are sections of Australia that are still particularly bad. Rural parts of the country are still very conservative. I have a brother-in-law in country Victoria who has a gay nephew. Neither he, nor the nephew's father have spoken to the young man for years. However, my brother-in-law has known me for years. He now knows I'm gay. I was dreading Christmas Day, which would be the first time we'd be face-to-face since he learnt I'm gay. On that day, he made a point of coming up to me, shaking my hand and wishing me a Merry Christmas. To me, that shows a change in attitude. By finding a new face to the term "gay", he is starting to change his opinion.

We need to do this for the wider communities. A human face -- not a stereotyped or militant one -- is more likely to start to change attitudes than anything else.

At this point, I will concede that in almost every war, it is the younger people who bear the greatest burden. This war is no different. Yes, we expect the young people of today to lead this fight, but by example. Signs are that the current generation is generally more tolerant that the generation of their parents. This progression must continue. The next generation will pick up the fight in their turn. This I expect this to continue for quite some more.

The older generation plays their part in this, too. Stories, such as those written by the authors at this site, help educate and increase morale of those who are in the trenches. This is a role that should not be dismissed. This thread started by asking about gay role models. My initial response included a comment about teaching the younger generation about the mistakes of the older. This is another way we "elder" members can help.

I think the analogy has been pushed enough. Please do not give up your aggression and desire for the rights you deserve. All I'm asking is that you try to use them effectively, and don't waste them on battles that should not be fought, at least not yet.

Graeme

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First, Blue, this is not a flame war. I grant I got overheated while writing my response, and I am sorry if some people were offended by the content of what I posted. However, the road runs both ways. I was not offended in the classical sense by what Gabe originally posted. In fact, I made me think quite a bit, and I was sincere in the post-script to my post.

Now, onto something else...

Gabe, I do appreciate what you are saying. Yet I would be remiss if I failed to remind you that each generation stands on the shoulders of the previous one. If you got the impression I am simply standing by and watching the wheels turn around, then you are mistaken.

I fight a different form of warfare. Because of the dangers I face in my locale, I am forced to use varying techniques. My goal is to slowly influence the thinking of those around me and, in turn, have them influence the thinking of others. It is a slow process -- infuriatingly slow -- and one that does work if patience is the watchword. This is not about pacifism. It is taking a look at the situation and understanding that a great many people are holding a hardnosed view. Laws can be changed overnight, as was witnessed during the Great Society period in the 1960s, but the culture and society lags far behind. People cannot be forced to accept changes. To try and force the changes when the mindset has not been altered leads to even greater resistance. Organizations like ActUp! and Queer Nation took an approach that did more harm than good. Their overly militant activism created divisive camps, and this has lead to the backlash effect we are now experiencing.

Don't worry. We'll fight your war for you. If you ever see the day that we are treated fairly, remember it was the kids who did it.

Please, do not fight my war. I am fighting it. I am fighting it using methods that "the kids" often cannot comprehend. I did not comprehend them when I was younger. This is a battle of mental attrition. Activism of the sort you seem to imply gives others a reason to raise a battle standard and gather their forces around it. When it comes to numbers, we are out-gunned 10 to 1. Don't forget that. We truly are in the minority. Should the majority feel as though we are threat to their way of life, and a frighteningly large percentage do, then they will fight back. We will lose. I understand the war "they" are gearing up to fight. They have numbers we will never enjoy, and this is important. I spoke to a lot of people before the last election cycle, and I worked against the proposal banning same-sex marriage. It passed by a 3 to 1 margin.

Conversely, if you do fight the war and it goes badly, do we then get to hold you up and flay the skin from your back for having made it worse for everyone?

There are times when I think of General Custer as he watched the Oglala come streaming over the hill. All he could say was "Oh, shit! Didn't know there was that many!" I sometimes get the sense that "the kids" are setting themselves up for their own form of "Little Bighorn" (and I must state I was on the side of the Oglala). However, we are the Oglala. We may win a small victory here or there (look at the history of Red Cloud or Geronimo or Sitting Bull), but we will lose the war. That is what I am trying to avoid. The only way I can fight the KKK is to influence enough people to understand what a loathsome group it is in reality. I also never forget that there are those who will always support the KKK. We must be careful that we do not piss off the majority to such an extent that they fail to even recognize us as human beings, let alone as fellow citizens.

The fight anyone picks is going to have consequences. One must take the time to sit back and think about what those results may be. I have thought about my fight. I have thought about the war in which I engage. I chose my tactics with care and caution. I don't want people to view me or my cause as a threat to their lifestyle. If they do, then they will actively seek to destroy mine... and they will probably win because of superior numbers. I do believe one person can make a difference. The diffence I seek to make is one where people can see the folly of divisive positions and the ill-treatment of fellow citizens. It requires tactful stategy. I want people to think I am one of them first. After that, the differences in person I reveal will force them to make a clear ethical and moral decision. Once faced with having to decide between being decent or despicable in action and thought, people will generally choose to be decent. Not everyone, but enough to make a difference.

There is an old saying a friend of my father's used to toss around, and I never truly understood it until about ten years ago. I use it to end my comments at this point, and leave it as something for you to consider:

"Age and experience always beats youth and strength."

Drake

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