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Thank You To the Older Gays Out There

Posted on June 27, 2013 at 12:35 AM

By Paul Johnson


A few months ago I asked a guy out for the first time. I realized I had a (mild) crush on this cute and funny guy from another team in my soccer league. I'd never asked a guy out before, so I asked straight guys from my high school how you actually ask someone out. They all offered vague, unhelpful platitudes like "Wait for the right moment." and "Just be spontaneous." but they all seemed completely unfazed by the fact that I was asking for dating advice about another boy.


I finally got up the nerve to ask him:  "Blake, dude, I gotta ask you something, cause, well, I think you're kind of cute. Are you gay?"


"Nope."


"Well, worth a shot. See you around."


I'm still kind of annoyed he turned out to be straight, but at least I got through asking someone out for the first time with a fair amount of dignity intact. It really wasn't that big of a deal, but the more I think about it, the more I realize just how lucky I am to grow up in this day and age.




Whenever I read a story on this of someone who grew up in the 90s or earlier, all I can think of is how any of them managed to NOT kill themselves. I mean, I barely managed to keep quiet about being gay for a few years before coming out to my closest friends in eighth grade. If I'd had to wait until I was in my 20s or 30s, I'm pretty sure I would've killed myself.


But among all the AIDS and suicide attempts and self-hatred and getting-thrown-out/beaten-by-your-parents that apparently every gay person born before the 90s went through, I think the thing that most devastates me in these stories is how being out to your friends wasn't even an option, especially not in middle or high school. You might, if you were lucky, get accepting parents and a non-AIDS-infected boyfriend and maybe even a semblance of happiness occasionally, but being out at your school was, without exception, going to make your life miserable and dangerous.


You didn't get to say, "Daaaaammmmmnnn!" when a hot guy took his shirt off in a movie your class was watching. You didn't get to make "That's what he said!" jokes at the lunch table. You didn't get to worry about the cute boy from your soccer league turning you down because you weren't hot enough. You didn't get to be annoyed that you were in the 10th grade and still hadn't made out with another dude. You didn't get to spend your teenage years just being a being a teenage boy the way I get to.


So I’d like to say this to the older gay guys out there: Thank you. Thank you for speaking up and fighting for change in an era I can't even imagine. Thank you for everything you did to make sure I could take being popular and out at my high school for granted. Thank you that I was able to ask out a boy, and my only worry was being turned down.


Because without all the things you did to change the world, I would be dead by now.

Categories: Other Voices

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5 Comments

Reply Hue-Man
10:50 AM on July 16, 2013 
John, I apologize for not expressing myself clearly. I did not mean to disparage the groups who have accomplished much through their support of LGBT causes. My point was that individuals put themselves on the line, risked their jobs, community ties, public notoriety, attacks from the gay-haters, often when their causes were unpopular and before many gay groups were formed.
The most obvious example of Gay Inc.'s success is the state-wide referendum wins in the 2012 election. These required fund-raising, marketing, and co-ordination of resources that no single individual could have accomplished.

To give them their due, some Gay Inc groups did. Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders scored key victories in the DOMA fight and of all groups Log Cabin Republicans won a major victory (unfortunately since mooted) against DADT. And of course Lambda Legal deserves a great deal of praise for the 40 years (this month) that it has been fighting to secure our freedoms.
[/John]
Reply John
4:45 PM on June 29, 2013 
Hue-Man says...
Gay Inc did not initiate the actions that have expanded gay rights

To give them their due, some Gay Inc groups did. Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders scored key victories in the DOMA fight and of all groups Log Cabin Republicans won a major victory (unfortunately since mooted) against DADT. And of course Lambda Legal deserves a great deal of praise for the 40 years (this month) that it has been fighting to secure our freedoms.
Reply Hue-Man
10:04 PM on June 27, 2013 
I was an early supporter of It Gets Better - against a lot of naysayers who claimed it didn't get better and what a waste of time, etc. - because personal testimony was another way to convince vulernable lesbian and gay kids that suicide was not a reasonable option. Here's Ask Dan Savage Anything about IGT (I won't spoil his comments which I found quite surprising but completely sensible.) http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2013/06/27/ask-dan-savage-anything
-has-it-gets-better-succeeded/

Gay Inc did not initiate the actions that have expanded gay rights - Edie Windsor is only the most recent example of individuals and couples who put themselves up to ridicule, personal vicious attacks, and often public humiliation. Although deep gay pockets financed some of the highest visibility recent campaigns, it will take boots on the ground and hard work to make progress in the remaining states, cities, and corporate employers. Are gay youth with their superior communication skills, involved in this support network?
Reply John
7:01 PM on June 27, 2013 
Well, things weren't entirely as dire as you paint, but for whatever small part I may have played, you're welcome.
Reply CATHY CRONIN
6:31 PM on June 27, 2013 
You're a very good writer, Lucas! Well done (again) :-)