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positive stories?

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Experience is various. I go to a school where homophobia, racism, bigotry of any kind is just regarded by the vast majority as unacceptable: it's the culture of my school. It doesn't mean that everyone loves gays but that most people realise that their personal prejudices should remain in the private domain and that for everyone's benefit we should respect each other in the public domain. An example: we have a number of religious students but our school is decidedly secular. I know full well that some of those students believe that homosexuality is incompatible with their religious belief but although we have talked about it never once has the difference of opinion resulted in hostility and when the French government passed a law banning religious symbols in schools (the anti-headscarf law) our gay straight alliance organised a protest against it on the grounds that an injury to one is an injury to all. That's my experience. It's not everyone's. I know plenty of kids who experience a homophobic school environment daily. I think actually that my experience is a minority one. Still on the whole I think things are better for my generation than for previous ones.

I read stories that relate the experience of homophobia and the despait it causes in the same way I read, for example, Primo Levi writing about the holocaust. Today, despite the desperately sad situation in Israel/Palestine, anti-semitism is not experienced by most Jews in the same horrific way that it was in the past. But I have to know about the past. I don't want to grow up not understanding what anti-semitism did to people. I truly believe that we must never forget what happend. I also read stories that are positive and up-beat. Some of them are essential fantasies like David Levithan's wonderful Boy meets Boy. I think every gay teen and in fact every straight teen two should read them. And, if I 'm allowed a moment's self-promotion I'm writing a story that reflects (in a very distorted way) my experience of growing up queer - my positive experience. But I read James' stories too and I cry. I rage. I want to stand up and shout "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore". I don't feel suicidal, I feel that I want to be part of the solution not part of the problem. We have to have those stories both because they are fine literature - a good enough reason anyway - but because for us queers transmitting history is very very difficult and we have to make sure that we never forget and that we're prepared mentally for the fire next time, tho chas v'shalom, we will never have to suffer it in quite the extreme way again.

So, I agree, let's have stories that show that being gay can be good; that we can have positive experiences and live productive lives in a friendly world. But let's not deny the experience of either older gay peeps or those young people who aren't as fortunate as we are. Their stories have to be told too.


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