Blame it on the flu, blame it on being home for days on end, hell, blame it on the boogie if you like, but the last couple of days I’ve watched a couple of movies that really made my heart sing, and made me realise how far we’ve come since I was younger.
Today I watched a movie called The Geography Club that in between the tears and the laughter, made me realise just how far we have come in the march towards equality. Watching the film, set in a high school, and focusing on the life of a soon to be out teen and his schools Gay/Straight Alliance, made me wonder how different my life could have been if we’d had this level of acceptance back in the day.
I’m gay. It’s no surprise. I’m more than open about it. I’m almost offensively in your face about it. Not in the idea that I’m camp 24/7 – that takes way too much effort – but in the respect that if you don’t like it, you can fuck right off. I don’t want to hear your hate, I’m not interested in acknowledging it, or giving it oxygen.
But back as a teenager I struggled. I struggled hard. I fought it. I wanted to be – and would have done anything to be – different. I wanted to be like the others. I went to all male Catholic High School. In the years since I walked out of school in Year 11 at lunch time and never went back, I know of at least 5 guys who have come out as gay. I hated them in High School. They hated me. We fought like cats and I despised them.
Maybe we hated each other because the bullies targeted us. Maybe we hated each other because to be kind to each other tainted us all. I don’t know. I never will.
What I know, what I acknowledged watching that movie today was both the emptiness inside that makes me stay to myself, and also how much I longed for acceptance as a teenager.
Being a catholic boy, in a catholic high school, told constant gays were Satan’s minions and would burn in hell, left me with a hole I never really filled.
I watched this movie today about High School students coming out and being accepted and all I could think was “Thank God, we’ve come so far.”
I vaguely remember when in NSW homosexuality was illegal.
I remember being a kid and watching 60 Minutes – dad controlled the TV back then – and Jana Wendt was in Washington talking about the AIDS quilt.
I remember a time before AIDS was AIDS and was instead GRIDS. Before it jumped the pond so to speak and infected everyone it could.
I remember Whoopi Goldberg offering Fred Nile a condom on the Ray Martin Show, and I remember when Nicholas Toonen walked into a Tasmanian Police Station on national television and demanded he be arrested, as homosexuality at the time was still illegal there.
I was alive – but too young to remember – the first Mardi Gras march, I was only 6 or so at the time. But it does my head in to think of how much has changed in the years since those brave men and women were beaten and arrested, fighting for our rights.
Today I realised how far we had come. The generation before mine turned the world on it’s head, demanding equality. My own generation kept the momentum going. The next generation now fights for Marriage Equality.
So much change in such a short time period.
I sit and I wonder where we’ll be in another 40 (almost 41) years and I imagine the generation growing will not even are about sexuality. They will just get on with saving the world from the mistakes of the generations before them.
I want to take this opportunity to thank those who came before me. To those who tore their world’s apart, and fought for my right to be who I am, I can give only my thanks.
To those who come I ask only this, remember the ancestors. Acknowledge those who fought before you. Thank them for the freedoms you take for granted. It wasn’t all that long ago you would have been illegal.