The View from Twentysomething

A young gay man, fresh out of a Catholic law school, notices a generation gap at this year's Pride festivities in Minneapolis:

One observation I made was that the younger crowd (perhaps ages 18-30) were very tame this year. In past years, I feel like the younger crowd has donned the more traditional Pride garb of brightly colored short-shorts, flip-flops, and perhaps a pooka shell necklace. This year, I noticed the younger crowd was not nearly as sexually provocative in their dress. . . . Most of the younger crowd was dressed normally, dragging along their puppies and dogs.
The older crowd was drastically different. My friend and I were in the beer garden and she and I both commented on how so many "older" men were dressed provocatively and with the purpose of expressing sexuality . . . .
Why the difference? Our twentysomething correspondent theorizes that the prospect of marriage, absent from the lives of older gay men, is starting to have an effect on younger gay men:
As a member of what I consider to be the younger gay community, the past few years have changed my behavior. With gay marriage nascent in Minnesota's and other states' legislatures, and its arrival in many other states, I have tried to put forth my very best behavior. I have encouraged other homosexual people to do the same. . . . The gay community needs to show greater Minnesota that we, as a culture, are the type of men and women that can and should be married with children of our own and leading a publicly respectable life as such. . . .
I think much of the 60s, 70s and 80s were about getting the greater public to realize that gay men and women existed. The "We're here, we're queer, get used to it" mantra was more relevant then than it is now. In the recent 90s and now in the early millennium, the mantra seems to have shifted to "Now that you know we're here, what are you going to do about it?"

Assimilationist? That's one way to look at it. Performative rather than authentic? Perhaps, but radicalism in attire and manner is as much a performance as modesty can be. This writer sees better days ahead:

I think young gay men and women are beginning to see the possibilities for the general gay community and are starting to subdue and prepare themselves for leading a "normal" American life, something that a lot of gay men and women desperately need right now. I know I am and I am definitely looking to the future with high hopes.

9 Comments for “The View from Twentysomething”

  1. posted by Bryan on

    I agree completely with the sentiment of this article. I’m 20 years old and this year was my first Pride after coming out. I went to the festival and parade in Minneapolis expecting over-the-top displays of sexual promiscuity (partly due to reading Prof. Carpenter’s old columns!) but I was pleasantly suprised to see for the most part ordinary gay people enjoying themselves. My hope is that this trend will continue and expand in the future and culminate in marriage and monogamy being ideals to reach for gays.

  2. posted by Guglielmo Pescatore on

    As an older gay man, I entirely agree with you, Bryan. We are, I suppose, nonconformist by definition, in that our sexual orientation is not that of the majority. But what we want is surely not to be nonconformist for the sake of it but simply the freedom to love someone of our own sex and to live our lives accordingly without hassle. If this is regarded as unremarkable by more and more heterosexuals, so much the better. Let’s enjoy the progress that we’ve made; life doesn’t last for ever.

  3. posted by ron on

    “prepare themselves for leading a “normal” American life”

    This statement is regressive. It’s naive. How can one be oblivious to the pernicious implication? Why was Matthew Shepherd killed? Why was Chaz Bono ridiculed? Why was Dan Choi dishonorably discharged? Because they weren’t “normal”. Why is “normal” such a cherished state? The word is code for “not like me”, ergo utterly narcissistic.

  4. posted by Throbert McGee on

    Why was Chaz Bono ridiculed?

    Because he was once inside Cher’s uterus. Also, he’s fat.

    Why was Dan Choi dishonorably discharged?

    He wasn’t. Choi got an honorable discharge, as has most often been the case for all the men and women discharged under DADT. And the military was legally correct to discharge Choi — which is not to say that the currently military policy is morally right or rationally defensible, but simply to say that Choi was in technical violation of DADT because he chose to come out on The Rachel Maddow Show. (Which is to say, Choi was not the victim of an anti-gay witch hunt.)

  5. posted by ralph k. on

    You poor confused devils. Seems like few of your sort can control your most primative urges. If you are convinced that your activities are natural ,then how is it that so far you have not figured a way to procreate and multiply yourselves without recruting. I have to believe that all of this disorder is the result of abuse at some point in your lives. For that I am sorry for you, more than that No One with that kind of history needs to do any further damage to some other youngster.Best to keep your perverted habits isolated among yourselves!! Sorry to have to explain it to you but it’s really great to be normal.If the first two people on earth were men ask yourself , would we all be here today??

  6. posted by Guglielmo Pescatore on

    ralph k., don’t air your ignorance in this way. We don’t recruit; we don’t want to; we don’t need to; and we wouldn’t succeed if we tried. We don’t need to figure out a way to “procreate and multiply” ourselves, because heterosexuals do that for us. One of the wonderful things about heterosexuality (or “being normal”, as you call it) is that it produces more heterosexuals and more homosexuals.

  7. posted by Pat on

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen the “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” argument.

    Anyway, ignorance if that type is the result of abuse at some point in their lives. With that kind of history, best not it be spread and damage other youngters, etc.

  8. posted by Bobby on

    Hey Ralph K, what is a breeder like you doing in a place like this?

    And what’s so wonderful about heterosexuality? It’s all based on lies, you can’t even tell a woman “I want to have sex with you” because she’ll slap you in the face. So what do you do? You like to her, pretend to listen to her while all you’re doing is looking at her boobs, you date her time and time again until finally the miracle happens and she sleeps with you. And if you don’t like her after sex, you dump her.

    In our gay world, we don’t play those games. Our men don’t cry “rape” because they got drunk and ended up having sex they later regretted. Ralph, just thank God sexuality is biological because if homosexuality was a choice, everyone would make that choice. Life is easier with the same-sex. You feel sorry for me? I feel sorry for you.

  9. posted by lesbo mom from up north on

    I so appreciated the comments from our twentysomething writer. This is the 4th Pride festival I’ve attended, and my third one in Minneapolis. I have to say that as a thirtysomething myself, one who works hard to advance our right to equality, I was so pleased to stroll Hennepin Avenue before the parade and find the parade viewers so … normal. Sure, we are an eclectic bunch of people who for the purpose sometimes even of survival assert our individuality and eccentricities, but we are “normal” in the sense that we are humans and deserving of the same rights and responsibilities enjoyed by other human beings in this culture. We are “normal” because we cover such a wide spectrum of style and substance. Sure, there will always be leather boys and bois and dykes and lipstick lesbians and nudists in barrels (I love these guys) and suburbanites and metrosexuals and drag queens and people under every color of the rainbow in our community that show up at Pride. That diversity is fantastic, and one of the things I absolutely LOVE about coming out for pride, especially in the Twin Cities.

    And there is something about showing the rest of America that we’re of more substance than just some “freak show.” We exist, and asking for/expecting the same rights as everyone else should not be a threat to heteros. We don’t have to become bland and lose our color. And we’re more than the long stare threatening freak show some want to paint us as.

    When we represent well, we can’t possibly lose.

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