There have been some articles and posts recently on why new generations of queer* folk don’t know about, aren’t interested in, and perhaps don’t even need to know, their history. These are often followed by some young queers saying they DO want to know our stories. I have decided to test this out by celebrating turning 60 with a Speaking Tour across southern Ontario.
It is important that we all understand the benefits and limitations of sharing the past. Many of the challenges we currently face are not new- bigotry & hatred and economic, legal & social injustice are familiar to all generations. Basic human behaviour has not changed very much at the core; we know all too well the old reactionary tactics, no matter the branding and spin now used. Some of the techniques we used may be less effective now; with changes in social norms and technology. Whether they are replaced or just modified (Resist2.0 if you will) they are a starting point.
At the same time I can not over-emphasize that my generation would do well to accept (if not embrace) the new language and paradigms these ‘kids’ use. When I came out in 1978 many groups were just growing from ‘Gay [whatever]’ to ‘Lesbian & Gay [whatever]’. We generally (certainly not exclusively) viewed human sexuality and gender within a fundamentally binary construct.
Note on Queer: I respect the right of others not to self-identify with this word. I do. I reclaim it, and others, with some limitations. Any specific use of a word reflects the speaker’s intent- the sweetest voice won’t easily hide hatred.