I get the idea that many young gay people today think they live in a world of total acceptance. It's as if they've never heard of the ex-gay movement, the fight against gay marriage equality, the Republicans and their "family values," the fact that in some third world nations you can be put to death simply for being gay --and that you can still be fired in many states in the good ol' US of A just for being homosexual. And what about all the people who are still in the closet, using beards, on the down-low? Yes, things have improved a lot since the Stonewall riots, but why do some young people act as if gays are accepted everywhere? Are they in for a rude awakening? JS,
I'm afraid so. Older people, especially those who remember the days of raids and constant oppression and the days before hardly any public figures were out of the closet, are in a unique position. They can tell how much better things are, but their remembrance of the not-so-good old days reminds them that rights can often be a fragile thing, and a lot of bad attitudes don't go away, they just go underground. Anyone who thinks homophobia is a thing of the past is either living in fantasy land or is a fool or both.
Many younger people, especially those who work in the movement, do know that the struggle is far from other. But there are those who have loving and accepting straight friends and who live in big, comparatively liberal cities (with gay rights bills to protect them, of course) and since they've never experienced oppression in a major way, they think it's a thing of the past. Sadly, all it takes is one ugly experience -- someone hurling slur terms, a gay-bashing -- and they instantly become aware that homophobia is alive and well. Many of these people, while homosexual and out of the closet, don't have an especially strong gay identity, either. The gay cause is not their cause, more's the pity.
In a way it's good that many of these people of any age feel secure; it's better than the constant paranoia many gays used to face. The downside is that it makes them feel there's nothing left to struggle for. They see AIDS as an eighties issue (but HIV and AIDs are still with is, and still a threat), and Gay Lib as a quaint thing of the past. But there are still too many gay/homosexual people who do not feel good about, or accepting of, their sexuality, and this includes many who are out of the closet. And there are a large mass of closet cases out there who cut themselves off from gay culture, self-acceptance, and enlightenment.
The good news is that the percentage of gays who are Out and Proud is probably higher than ever before. And we continue to make advances, be it gay marriages, gay/LGBT rights bills, and so on.
But there's a looooooooooong way to go, and everyone must remember it!