Bridging the Gap Between Yesterday and Today’s Gay Rights Movement

Stephanie DonaldAlthough I wasn’t any huge figure in the gay rights movement of yesteryear I’ve recently run into groups of foreign LGBT young people who want to know what I know about what happened here mostly because of my friendship with Jack Nichols and also because of my knowledge of what did happen.

I’ve become a living internet Wikipedia and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

I look at the things we need to do here in the United States (particularly after the revelation of the new “Super Congress) and then I wonder how could the younger generation possibly call me “stupid” when I say we need to return to the ways where we didn’t beg and plead for our rights by internet petitions that politicians ignore and answer with template responses that don’t even come close to responding to your comment to him/her in the first place.

The “suits” in organizations like the Human Rights Commission and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force think they have all the answers by polling fractionalized young people who can’t even decide what color tie they’re going to put on to go to the office that morning or whether they’re going to this club or that club to get laid on Friday night.

They said that the 1980s was the decade of “me” but I don’t think we ever left that decade because beyond self-absorption and self-gratification I can’t find more than an average of 20% of the current LGBT population that even cares about our gay rights and I think I might be generous with my percentage.

But there are a few out there who care and then there’s the “old guard” who still try to stir the pot and keep the blood circulating in what sometimes feels like a corpse.

So we stand by with a fresh pint of blood and the defibrillation paddles charged; ever-ready to zap 10,000 volts across the genitals of anyone who’ll listen. But in today’s world I sometimes think that approach is considered a sex toy and that isn’t the point I’m trying to make especially if the person I’m talking to is male and the gay men might think after an experience like that it’s time for them to seek time in therapy exploring the depths of their own sexuality.

I’m not trying to cause a homosexual meltdown; just get people to become involved.

I have somehow earned a reputation of being a Queen Bitch in my editorials and you know what? I’ve actually come to enjoy it! How else can I be the Queen of anything without changing genders and being a female impersonator?

Seriously, I remember Jack Nichols telling me one time that when I write something to make sure it’s from my heart and whether someone reading it loves it or hates it doesn’t matter. The whole point is that they’re reading it.

Perhaps my biggest downfall is not using enough humor. I do tend to be too serious but I look at our world today and think our problems seem pretty serious while most young people today look at the world and think they just need a double latte to peel their eyes open and make their leg jump up and down.

We’re in a world where complex political issues that affect us all are called “stupid” and a good Friday night involves two hits of ecstasy, so many drinks that your credit card screams and waking up Sunday morning wearing someone else’s underwear in a strange apartment with a goat next to the bed batting it’s eyelashes at you and you’re so hung over that you swear the goat said “not baaaaad”.

The older activists sometimes raise my ire as well. Some of them sit around “observing” the news or not even reading or paying attention to what’s going on. Like so many senior citizens they seem to have the attitude of “I gave at the office” so they sit there waiting to die.

Last Christmas I had the honor of having a long conversation with a very notable lesbian activist from the 1960s-1980s. She and her partner were notable for probably being the most important voices for women and lesbians for more than 35 years and they were at the forefront of building a free library of LGBT material that is still unique to this day before her partner passed away early in the 21st century.

Now this unnamed famous woman sits quietly and uninvolved in a nursing home waiting to die. She refuses to learn how to use a computer and won’t even buy a VCR or DVD player because she can’t figure out how to use the remote controls. All she uses on her television is channel up and down and the on and off button along with the volume control and she even bitches about that and preferred the days when you changed channels by hand.

I tried to get this lady to write for LGBT-Today because she will use a typewriter and said if she typed the sheets and sent them to me I would retype them into the computer for my magazine. I told her she could inspire a whole new generation of women.

No dice. She said that although she had nothing but time that she didn’t want to be involved any longer.

Just the history she carried in her brain I would have loved to have listened to her for weeks. She was a living link to LGBT history that was amazing and her brain was crisp and clear as if she was still 25 years old. Her refusal to write broke my heart.

I’m getting used to a broken heart and that scares me a bit.

The point of all this is that there is no boundary to apathy these days. It wanders dangerously like a bullwhip from the youngest “out” LGBT community to the oldest activists who have given up on the young ones who don’t seem to care or point at the older ones and call them names and hurt our feelings.

I’ve received good comments on my writing and also bad ones. For those of you who write the bad ones; perhaps you might realize that my skin has had to become thick because I’m one of those rare older activists.

I still care and I’m still talking and trying to reach out.

So keep throwing stones, folks! If you’re throwing then at least you’re reading and that’s a very good thing!

Stephanie Donald

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