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The Gay Generation Gap

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Very impressive article. There is a lot of truth to it. Strangely enough, I can almost relate more to the young gays than many of the older ones. I guess that's what happens if you get to be 55 before you even recognize that you are gay. I sort of jumped into the current situation, much like many teens have, and I have no history of past struggles, at least not on a personal level.

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An objective article with some insight to the differences that occur as generations experience their life and times.

What we see nearly everyday are social, cultural and political restrictions on individual awareness.

This is common across the generations and most cultures. As individuals, our quests no longer hunger for answers to life's riddles, because they are shadowed by the tempting obligations of desire to conform to those restrictions. And who wouldn't want to be obligated to truth, liberty and justice in the pursuit of happiness when such happiness is measured in dollars, fame and rewarded by an end to uncertainty, even if it is illusory?

The problem is that this is a path to conformity, to mediocrity, and assimilation, not just for young and old gays, but for all of us who succumb to the status quo of our times.

Proceed with caution is good advice, but it does not mean that we should lose sight of the goals of Human Rights, because things seem better at this moment.

The liberation of same sex relationships is not the end of the quest, but it is an important step in the freedom of individuals to not be encumbered by the restrictions of any culture's labels.

If age and youth can agree on anything it should be the eradication of those labels, and those denunciations of diversity and difference, which inhibit individuals from realising that their sexuality, like life itself, is omnifarious and requires no further judgement.

Of course it goes without saying that the younger generation will still prefer to sleep with each other. Who can blame them for that, even if the older generation thinks it could help?

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One has to wonder if being 'happy' for oneself is really enough of a goal. What if the push for equal rights has reached a point at which one is satisfied (for himself) that all relevant goals have been achieved? Should that person then abandon further activism, or should he continue to push, for further rights, as defined by the needs of others? What if this push is contradictory to this guy's own needs, and thereby creates tension, irritation and unhappiness? Do we need to push ourselves beyond our own needs, and push for the needs of others, particularly if it is detrimental to ourselves to do that?

In the commercial world the answer is obvious. Someone invents something and finds it hard to market, but some other company offers to buy it up, and they both know it is to suppress the new product altogether. Almost invariably the choice is for the personal buyout, sacrificing current and future needs of others for the peace of personal happiness. Seldom is there a dissenting voice in the back of the person's head that is loud enough to be heard, much less listened to.

In families the answer is not so clear. There are numerous, too numerous to tally, occasions in which personal need is suppressed for the need of the family, and more particularly, the children. One can only suppose that there must be some other satisfaction involved, that lets personal gain or happiness be relegated to 'second fiddle'.

Then we get 'groups' of like individuals. They could be friends, teams, clubs, squads, and other organizations (even religions). They fall between the 'family' and 'commercial' sides. Depending on the individuals involved, and their 'dedication' to the central purpose of the group to which they belong. This is where I believe the 'gay rights' people fit in. Some will be strong for fighting for more for the group, whereas other will be satisfied with what is already achieved. There is really no 'right' or 'wrong', and strictly speaking, there should be no disappointment, since it behoves us to set standards for ourselves, not for others. If you set standards for others' behaviours, you will almost certainly be disappointed. The generation 'gap' in gay rights activism is not so much a real thing, as a disappointment due to expectations set and not met. It can be seen to be no more serious an issue than a parent with a PhD being upset that their child is only aiming to be a filing clerk. While the parents purport to be seeking the best for the child to ensure its happiness, their expectations are not the child's, and it can result in much bickering. Fortunately, most of the time it is obvious enough that they feel for each other anyway, and they get along okay. The gay community will do the same. Some bickering, some hurt, mostly supportive.

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Happiness is generally considered to be the aim of life in the philosophical sense if not the pragmatic.

But then I was being mostly philosophical in my post along the lines of Albert Einstein when he said,

"Only a life lived for others is worth living."

But to do that one often has to be willing to be true to oneself, which seems to be a paradox...

It is here that Western logic and Eastern intuition (to be brief) combine to reveal an insight into the human condition, but that is a much more difficult discussion. It is usually regarded as a paradox of a moment that is simultaneously, absolute/relative.

Again these labels fall short of the actual experience, and dare I say the aims involved.

My argument was specifically not about the day to day struggles of the gay generation gap, but that the goal of human rights is more than the confines and status quo of any social groups or cultures. When we become aware of that as a legitimate aim, then maybe we will not be so intent on ignoring or misconstruing each other's generational experiences, even if they are accompanied with the right to redefine as needed.

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I think the first thing that younger gays have to do to get a sense of their own history is to watch the film Milk.

I didn't have a chance to see the film in the theater, but my partner and I did watch it on home video, and I found it incredibly moving.

Milk was a helluva guy, and I thought he was an inspiration in many ways. I also thought the film was admirable in that it didn't shy away from some of the bad decisions Harvey Milk made, including making an enemy out of Dan White (the man who later killed him).

Randy Shilts' excellent book, The Mayor of Castro Street, goes into all the facts into much more detail (far more accurately than the film), and that should be required reading for anybody who wants to know at least a portion of the struggles of gay people for acceptance.

From what I see, we still have a long, long way to go. Marriage is only the beginning.

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I think the first thing that younger gays have to do to get a sense of their own history is to watch the film Milk.


From what I see, we still have a long, long way to go. Marriage is only the beginning.

Yes Pecman, Milk is indeed an outstanding film and well worth anyone's time to watch. I am heartened by the number of my customers at our video store who feel it necessary to let us know how wonderful they think it is.

Just to make sure people know that you and I can agree about things, your statement that 'Marriage is only the beginning,' states the present position of our struggles most perceptively.

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