After the Stonewall riots in 1969 the gay rights movement was born and spread around the country. The activists in those early days had a much more radical in your face approach. They weren’t going to conform to anyone’s ideas of how they should look or act. The famous rally cry of “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” is a perfect example of that in your face style. The young gay movement was like an angst filled teenager pushing limits and testing boundaries. They were filled with raw emotion and they often had to scream and shout to get noticed by law makers. Not surprisingly the pushy attitude didn’t win over many fans. Gay people were still seen as immoral trouble makers on the edge of society.
As time went by the gay rights movement grew and matured. It seems somewhere along the way the leaders of the movement shifted their campaign platform away from provocation and anger to one of inclusion and assimilation. As they say, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. The message became “We are all the same. We are all equal.” The focus was on the idea that we are just like straight people and thus we should be given the same rights. Gays starting to mix and blend seamlessly into regular polite society in growing numbers. The move worked. As we can all see, gay rights activists have been incredibly successful in the last several decades bringing enormous strides both socially and politically. The Same and Equal philosophy is now much more than a political strategy. It has become a deeply held belief amongst many in our community.
This is what those early leaders fought for. We finally got to a place where no one cares about your sexual preference. Our culture that once existed mainly in gay ghettos has now been absorbed into mass market media. We are welcomed with open arms by those who once banished us. We truly have assimilated and become just like them.
And part of me hates it. This post was inspired by my friend Ed. He got into a heated discussion on Facebook with someone about the topic. He pointed out that he missed the radical activism of our early gay leaders while the other person valued total integration. My favorite quote from him during the discussion was “I want to sit in my gay coffee shop, drinking my gay coffee, reading my gay book.” I have to admit I agree. I love living in a gay bubble. Regular society is utterly beige. While the idea of mainstream acceptance makes sense on paper, part of me feels like we are losing part of our culture. Remember, the cult will only accept people who do exactly as they’re told and drink the Kool-Aid. Our country is considered the great melting pot but at some point are we going to melt down so far that we will totally lose who we once were? Don’t get me wrong I don’t knock the gay rights movement for moving toward the beige center of politics. To win the war there will always be casualties and unfortunately radical activism was one of those casualties. Regardless part of me will always be drawn to the in your face ‘I don’t care if you like it’ punk style attitude. Why do we have to be the same to be equal? We should be equal because we’re all human beings not just because you suddenly want to be our friend.
With support for gay rights continuing to grow around the world, the ‘We’re All the Same‘ philosophy is here to stay and honestly it has my respect. You can’t ignore the tremendous success modern gay activists have had. Throughout it all though, there will always be a part of me that wants to get in your face and shout WE’RE HERE, WE’RE QUEER, GET USED TO IT!