While it’s undeniable that young queer people today have inherited great progress, it’s been felt very differently depending on the color of your skin or your national origin or your economic status. We’ve come so far, but we still have so much further to go.
James Patrick Nelson
In response to my essay, “Dying for Someone to Talk to,” I received this comment from a young gay man recently: If these so called ‘’Mature’’ men had BALLS!!! They wouldn’t have found themselves in the situation. LOSERS, thats what they are & selfish. They hurt other people because their dishonesty with themselves & others.
I’ve grown used to it.
When I was in medical school in the 1960s, we studied homosexuality as a “pathologic deviancy.” Had I come out then I would have been thrown out of medical school. Contrast that with a world where medical students put “he/him,” “she/her,” “they/them” on their name tags to remind people of their pronouns.
In my youth, men and women (especially men) — even if only accused of being “homosexual” — could be sent to a state mental institution “to remain until cured.”
Yes, I lied about being gay. I hurt people in the process, people I loved and still love. I didn’t want to want what I wanted. It was dangerous to want what I wanted. What I wanted, in reality, could keep me from achieving everything in my life that I desired.
I hear so often from men, particularly in the Middle East, who know that revealing their same-sex attraction could result in being pushed off tall buildings. One said, “Don’t I have a right to want what everyone else wants?” So many of them want just one person in their life with whom they can be real, genuine, authentic.
In response, some say, “Why don’t you just leave then?” Most of them want to.
But leaving the life we have, the one we’ve known, the values we were raised with is never easy. It isn’t just in the Middle East. It happens in Falluja and Baghdad but it also happens in Iowa, in Birmingham, and even New York City.
What frightens me most is that people want us to return to the values and morality of the mid-twentieth century. How easily we could lose the progress, the freedoms, the liberties we have here in the U. S.! It is up to those of us who are old, to tell our stories of how that world was less than ideal, not only for gay people but for women and people of color.
Minds can only be changed when people hear and feel our pain.