Thursday, July 1, 2010

Remembering and Teaching Gay History

Harvey Milk walking from the Castro to San Francisco City Hall on the day of his inauguration to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, January 8, 1978. (Photo by Danny Nicoletta)

Remembering our history via a blog post by Dan Zak. I’ve been recently reminded that the younger generation, the next group of gay youth to grow into their lives with more confidence than us older gays did, may not know the history of how we – and they – got here; how we arrived a point where past gay warriors have wrought for these inspiring young people a world that, though not yet perfect, is far better than it was three-four-five decades ago.

For a demographic that was once so twined with mortality, the gays have gotten good (or have they always been good?) at focusing on the now, the young, the ephemeral. Today’s gays — the gays of my generation, the millennials, the 20-somethings — are post-gay, or New Gay, loosed from the closet, free of the diving bell of AIDS-as-executioner, left to skirmish over (or ignore) petty legislative battles on a state-by-state or school-by-school basis. The “end of gay culture” has been journaled for nearly a generation now. What about gay history? Is that ending too? From Sappho to Prop 8, and then what? Now what? Yearly parades celebrating outrageousness, tempered by the tired yammerings of marriage defenders?

I want to remind these youth and teach them about the gay men and women who should be their heroes; I want these young gay people to know about and remember the struggles that came in the past, to learn about Harvey Milk and Harry Hay and the many others like them who faced down bigotry so entrenched in society that it took great leaps of imagination – and great courage – to take those first steps toward equality. The schools don’t yet teach this; it is up to us to make sure our history is passed along.

"On pride" (Dan Zak)


(h/t Andrew Sullivan)

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