Friday, May 9, 2014

Is There An Echo In Here? #gay #history

It's funny how a society clings to the same flawed thinking regardless of how much time passes. 

I'm reading a book called Gay Bar about a woman who ran an inconspicuous little bar in Los Angeles in the 1950's...because back then most gay bars were inconspicuous. 

Reading this story inspires an odd combination of amusement and incredulity that certain things remain unchanged inside and outside the gay community despite the passage of more than 60 years.

For example, in the 1950's the US was in a panic over communism, jumping at shadows much the way we do now over terrorism. There were bad guys lurking around every corner and anything different made people nervous. Gays were 'different' and the fact that homosexuality was listed as a mental illness back then didn't help. 

There's still a bit of that ignorance wafting around today in the ultra-conservative circles and conversion therapy groups. Gay people don't need rights because gay isn't a real thing. It's just a result of repressed childhood trauma...and all that ridiculous drivel that was debunked about 40 years ago. 

Back then sodomy was illegal in the US and anyone caught doing it (or even suspected of it) was arrested and sentenced to up to 15 years in prison depending on the state. Boise, Idaho was big news for a while after busting a 'ring' of almost 70 gay men and prosecuting them as criminals. Sound familiar? Apparently Uganda is several decades behind us, trapped in the days of irrational hysteria and superstition. We can only hope one day they'll outgrow it.

The author also mentions 'caste levels' within the gay community back then. Boy am I glad we're enlightened enough that we don't still have that kind of crap happening, aren't you? Can you imagine thinking that certain types of gay men are more acceptable than others and those without a masculine enough voice (or a gym membership) would be outcasts in their own community? Wouldn't that be ridiculous to have struggled through more than 100 years of rejection and bullying only to turn around and reject and bully each other? Thankfully, we're smarter than that now and live as one big happy family where everyone is free to be as gay as they want to be. 

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