Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Talking Man to Man: Twenty-Something, 40-Something: We're All Gay Men, but We Each Reflect a Certain Time and Place. How Are We Different ... and How Are We Alike?

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Talking Man to Man: Twenty-Something, 40-Something: We're All Gay Men, but We Each Reflect a Certain Time and Place. How Are We Different ... and How Are We Alike?

Article excerpt

This is hardly a scientific survey. But The Advocate's editors and I came up with five questions we could put to gay men over and under the age of 40 in an attempt to illuminate the differences and similarities between generations often separated by stereotypes and misperceptions. Consider them conversation starters. Try them out in your own life.

This small sampling bucks one persistent stereotype: that younger gay men are more likely to be devoted to the cause of samesex marriage. Bobby, a 26-year-old waiter in West Hollywood, Calif., is suspicious of what he sees as the "heteronormative" nature of marriage equality, while Eric, a 47-year-old writer, believes that all gay men must be given the option of participating in the rights and rituals of mainstream society. But on one issue most respondents were in agreement. When asked what is the most offensive term directed at gay men, most agreed that antigay slurs are more about context than vocabulary.

You may want to take some of these questions out into the world, maybe adding a few of your own. Think of them as icebreakers for men of different generations who want to have a conversation that extends beyond the dance floor or bedroom. Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it, and those who don't share the lessons of their experience are doomed to be forgotten.

                                                     How
             What                Who was             supportive were
             percentage          your                your friends
             of your close       first               and family
             friends are         celebrity           members when
             straight?           crush?              you came out?

Eric         I'd say it's        Davy Jones from     They didn't
writer       about 50-50, and    the Monkees. It     dismiss me, but
47           that's because I    started with a      they didn't really
             live in a very      feeling I got       want to know
             gay environment.    when I watched      anything else
                                 him sing            about it and their
                                 "Daydream           attitude was,
                                 Believer." His      Let's never talk
                                 voice and eyes      about that again.
                                 evoked a            But it took me a
                                 bittersweet         while to come out
                                 feeling in me       to them, so maybe
                                 that I can only     I should allow
                                 describe as         them as much time
                                 longing.            to get used to it.

Ted          Thirty percent.     Lance Kerwin, the   They were
journalist   But that number     star of James at    extremely
40           has changed over    15, a TV show       supportive, but it
             time because I      that was on in      took my parents
             came out of the     the late 70s. I     about a year to
             closet late. I've   thought he was      get used to it. It
             been adding gay     totally hot; he     was funny--friends
             friends since       had blond hair      who I thought were
             then, not losing    and he was          homophobic seemed
             straight ones.      sensitive. The      to have their
                                 fact is, I          homophobia
                                 thought I was       dissipate on the
                                 kind of like him    spot. Their
                                 and I sort of       attitude was that
                                 identified with     now that I had
                                 him. Unlike most    come out to them
                                 gay people I had    they simply
                                 a great high        couldn't make
                                 school              homophobic remarks
                                 experience, but     anymore. … 
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