When I was a little boy, my father’s best friend was a pimp.
Uncle Calvin was dapper, charming and always sported the latest fashions. I had no idea what this man did for a living. The only thing I knew was that there were all of these women around him and I couldn’t figure out which one he was married to.
I share this tale of my childhood to describe the ability to self invent and the need for adult guidance and supervision if our young people are to successfully navigate the treacherous world of adulthood and homophobia.
It will truly take a great deal of skill, knowledge and self love to move beyond mere survival and into full fledged thriving. My generation and the ones that immediately proceeded it had to do much scheming and plotting to ensure our survival.
I knew I would have to survive on my own at seven. This is not something any child or person ever needs to feel.
So what do we do?
As persons who have weathered inordinate amounts of personal storms, we have much to share. As Mudbone would say, “You don’t get this old being no fool.” How true. It is time that we all throw our hats in the ring to assist our younger peers in developing strategies for living well.
I foolishly thought, like so many of my older peers, that the need for serious vigilant opposition to domination regarding our sexuality and whom we loved was over. At the very least, it had lessened to a degree that did not require any serious concern.
With all of the tv shows, out celebrities and such, my assumption was that this level of the fight had been won. Ah, the genius of mass media manipulation. I had been lulled asleep by the seduction that with all of the focus on the beautiful and rich and their alternative lifestyles that I could rest easy.
I was seduced into believing that the days of fear and hate that surrounding my sexually coming out years had subsided. We had won a very difficult and valuable place at the table.
The fight is never over and it seriously continues with the foe constantly reinventing itself. This point was made clear when I read the comments posted on a website created to honor the recent rash of young people committing suicide and the subsequent call to action.
Some of the comments were so vitriolic and hate filled that it made me physically ill and afraid. I was unaware that this type of hatred still existed in the world. People were submitting entries full of biblical misquotes.
But the all out hatred – and in some cases, joy – in seeing gays dispose of themselves was beyond shocking to me. To wish another death and take pleasure in someone’s violent too-early departure from this plain is unacceptable. Period.
What can be done? We can demand change. We can refuse to go away.
So many times, domination (and I am referring here to the concept as an entity which means it needs humans to implement it at every turn) relies on both seducing us into thinking things have changed and then lulling us into not seeing or speaking about the things that haven’t changed.
It is very difficult to speak about something being a problem if you don’t know it is a problem. If I can’t call it what it is then how can I imagine and institute change. We must continue looking and thinking.
We must not be afraid to question, readjust, change our tactics and not back down.
We gather the strength to examine our surroundings and move beyond the thinking that says, “I survived so things must be ok and don’t make me look at all the ugly shit again.”
We must know what Uncle Calvin really is and then make a decision whether this needs correcting and can – and should – be used in the battle.
We must risk uneasiness for direct questions that are no longer based in fear but hope and the belief that the lives of so many are at stake when agents of domination go unchecked.