Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Brash and Entitled, 40 Years After Stonewall

In the run-up to this weekend's Gay Pride festivities in New York, forty years after the floodgates of identity politics were opened by the death of a starlet, some gays wonder if the "struggle" rages on - as it should, or if it should.

Hence the "gay generation gap" cited by writer Mark Harris for this week's issue of New York magazine. Whereas one generation of gay men had to act up for their rights, my generation - according to some - just shows up and expects a round of applause for our mere existence. Our slouched stance on everything from politics to work is infuriating, according to Harris, to some gays whose identity is perpetually linked to a fight. That the fight has yielded exactly what our predecessors envisioned, an unencumbered gay life that exists seamlessly in the straight world, is unnerving to some.

For my friends, DOMA, Prop 8 and DADT are sidebar discussions - we're mostly consumed with ourselves, our careers, our bodies and our boyfriends. And AIDS, thank God, isn't even a topic of discussion. We get the significance of these debates, though, and we're reasonably appalled by the fact that our right to exist is a subject of debate, but then, what would we do about it? A few weeks ago when the California Supreme Court upheld Prop 8, there was a call for a rally from Christopher Street to Union Square. Only one of my friends went while some of us went out for drinks and dismissed the event with a yawn, we figured "what is getting upset going to do, anyway?"

That the most community-centric things I've done are limited to the Pier Dance and scoring (not buying) a seat at the GLAAD Media Awards can either be seen as disgusting or just a casualty of normalcy.

James, my boyfriend, came of age at the height of the AIDS epidemic. But when he talks about his college days, it's not with a clenched fist and rancor in his voice, he just has a lot of fun stories to tell. And after college, the fun seems to have continued with other out-and-proud gay men in the world of business. If anything, James' 80's experience is more Wall Street than Philadelphia. I suspect the guys have always been as brash and entitled as my friends and I are. Had they not been, we'd all be living a completely different experience now. For that, we say thanks.


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