I’ve been very, very conflicted about the fact that I’ve come to the point in my life where I feel as if I’m looking over a giant chasm when I speak with my gay friends from my youth (or read their input on Facebook). I grew up in the Stonewall era and the Castro Street era, and never had a problem with gay liberation (although I always had a problem with excess). I had more gay friends than you can possibly imagine and loved them dearly (and still deeply mourn those who died). I thought theirs was a righteous fight over a visceral and often cruel discrimination.
I guess I started having problems during the AIDS era. Actually, I had one specific problem: I was deeply troubled by the fact that the gay rights movement put political ideology above what I believed were legitimate public health concerns. I’m speaking, of course, of the bath house wars. Those bath houses were disease vectors, just as the filthy, typhoid-ridden drains in mid-19th century London were disease vectors. The gays’ fight to keep them open and operating meant that AIDS was able to spread with dramatic rapidity. This stand gave the disease a solid foothold in America and, not coincidentally, contributed to the infection of thousands of gay men who might have avoided dangerous practices in a less salacious atmosphere. (And believe me when I say I really know about this, because owing to a job I had in a local hospital, I was one of the first people in America to know about AIDS.)
The insanity of the bath house fight didn’t diminish the tragedy of so many deaths (or, as I said, the loss of friends), but it made me realize that there were two dimensions to the gay movement: One dimension was the individuals trying to live their lives. The other dimension was a gay rights movement that was trying to power through an agenda regardless of the fallout from that agenda (including deadly fallout within the movement’s own community). The libertarian and the human in me accepts completely the first dimension; the conservative in me rejects the second.
I’ve also had huge problems in the past eight years with the fact that, barring a few brave souls, the gay movement has clung reflexively to the Left. This has put homosexuals in bed (figuratively, of course) with the same Mullahs who believe gays should suffer the worst kind of death just for being gay. And those aren’t just figures of speech. In places such as Iran and Palestine the treatment meted out to gays goes beyond appalling. Again, the movement has blinded itself to anything but the movement itself, and I don’t like that. That’s a kind of stultifying Leftist mind control that damages everyone and everything it touches.
It turns out I’m not the only one feeling that the gay rights movement has lost its soul. Charles Winecoff, a gay man who grew up in the same era I did, states “I hadn’t left the community, it had left me. When did the gays get so mean, anyway?” He then proceeds to write a thoughtful, fact-filled post about the political changes that have overtaken the gay rights movement in the last twenty years, changing it from a movement intended to allow people to live their lives in the open, without fear, into a far Left, very angry movement — with the anger intensifying the more the rights increase.
And as to that, have you noticed how often, once a group achieves its original goals the group, rather than achieving political bliss and peacefully dying away, morphs into an anger monster that becomes ever more irrational? Just cast your mind over the history of the original Civil Rights movement, the feminist movement and, of course, the gay rights movement. All started by enthusiastically demanding that the fetters binding blacks, women and gays be removed. All ended by becoming angry, anti-American, impractical, mean-spirited, overreaching movements, still trading on the good will their original goals engendered in the fundamentally decent American population.