alumiere (alumiere) wrote,

history part the ??

note: the actual date of this post is 4/6/07

so a posed a question for a paper he's writing (about acceptance of non-traditional lifestyles among communities)

here is my personal view

to start, a bit of history that might give you a better idea why this matters to me - i grew up in nyc (manhattan) and started going out in 80 or 81 to punk shows at places like cbgbs and the pyramid - at first i was just into the music, but once i hit about 14 i got a LOT more involved in the club scene - no drugs for me, but plenty of booze and casual unprotected sex - no regrets, but i'm damn lucky to be alive

by the time i hit college in the fall of 1984 i'd already had friends and lovers sickened by "grid" (gay related immuno deficiency i think - the early name for aids) and i'd been somewhat active in early demonstrations in ny pushing for more information and research on the disease

because nyc had at the time a huge community of gays, lesbians, bis, transsexuals, transvestites, etc there were a ton of different groups to become involved with - as a "maybe bi" (hadn't slept with a woman except in group situations, and mostly w/ guys then) young woman, a former punk, and someone who was already out there in terms of both my sexuality and my personality i got involved in a bunch of groups

in the end i became and stayed a member of act up/ny, in a large part because the people in my community (aka "the freaks") were more easily accepted - no one cared why you were there, everyone had a voice (loud, drama filled town hall style meetings), the protests were very visable and often offensive or inconvenient for the mainstream... in other words, just the kind of aids action group a punk like me would find welcoming

and for me, that meant a rather significant committment - i was a full time student with a full time job, yet i made time to go to ny and dc for demonstrations and sometimes worked with the smaller act up/baltimore group - most of my local gblt friends didn't get that at all; even jerry when he was dying of aids thought i was crazy (act up was too radical for them, and they thought i'd get arrested or hurt)

but there were other reasons too - at the time i first became an activist (say 1983-84) several of us tried other gay and lesbian groups - they were concerned about what was going on with grid, but often went out of their way to make us feel unwanted - to many people, we weren't there because we were gay or supported gays, we were there because our "promiscuous behavior" put us at risk or we used IV drugs (no, never) - at the time i didn't understand that behavior, but looking back on it it does make some sense - at least from a purely political perspective (and lets face it, the aids crisis was dripping with politicians) - our government was refusing to acknowledge the disease as something that could happen to anyone and were treating it like a gay plague - something that happened to gays because they fucked around, frequented bathhouses, etc, and usually involved drugs as well, so club kids weren't the public face they wanted

while those groups have of course changed their stance on bis, transsexuals, etc, at the time being anything other than a traditional gay man or lesbian (often radical) was not accepted easily - as a specific example while in college i moved to baltimore (1987); i was openly bi, i had a gay roommate and made costumes/acted as dresser for several drag queens - but when i went with to meetings at the glccb (gay and lesbian community center of baltimore) i was only welcome in as far as i supported my friends - as a woman who slept with both men and women i didn't fit in, and some people (mostly lesbians) treated me with disdain - they'd happily accept my efforts on their fund raisers, etc as long as i kept quiet about my own personal lifestyle

to put a simple point to this, i guess this brought up a ton of memories - friends and lovers dead for years (jerry, cindy, perry, steve, and several hundred more); actions in ny, baltimore, dc (particularly memories of act-up on wall street for their 1st anniversary, the march on dc, and the last time the names quilt was shown at once on the mall); and the thing that amazed me at the time and disappointments me now is that some of the groups fighting discrimination were so closed and unaccepting
Tags: deep? thoughts..., history (aka life pre-lj)

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