Our own problems impede our progress as people
by H.A.T.C.H. Writers
This month’s H.A.T.C.H. column deals with the hatred the writers see all around them and experience up close and personal.
Ageism. You usually think of it in the form of younger generations excluding seniors from their social groups, from “their” bars, from mainstream culture. However, the road runs both directions. Ageism against gay youth is rampant. Older generations think we don’t care, think we’ve grown up in an era of Will & Grace and Queer as Folk, so we must not have the same problems they had. They think we have no pride and no place in the community, yet wonder why we don’t want to take a more active part in it. As long as this is accepted, the schisms between the generations will widen.
Everyone is guilty. You’ve all had times when you saw a teenager and thought what they were trying to tell you wasn’t your concern. You’ve all talked to seniors like they’re beyond understanding your world. Or maybe you just avoid both. Almost without exception, all gay haunts are reserved for those in the 20s and 30s. Even the few where we are accepted, such as gay-friendly bookstores and cafes, patrons and staff can often treat those from other generations with mild disdain and bias.
We’ve all grown up in different times, but we’re still the same. The problem is simple, the solution is simple, but solving it is elusive and slippery. We have to open lines of communication. We have to learn from each other, but mostly we have to give a damn. Don’t let this stagnate. We have everything to gain from each other.
Internalized Homophobia. Homophobia is bad enough, right? Why the hell do we absorb all of the horrible things other people say and direct it inwards? Because that’s what we’ve been taught. The social and political climate is not too different from earlier generations: It’s wrong, immoral, abnormal, and anti-Christian (anti-religion really) to be gay. We soak this stuff up because if we hear it we start to believe it, and if we believe it, maybe, just maybe we’ll have the power to change, to be better, to be . . . heterosexual.
You hate yourself so much you would deny who you are to everyone, especially yourself. Well, honey, you can’t deny yourself your whole life. Maybe you’ll get married and live in a lovely home with all those little rascals running around. Well, that’s cute and all, but your marriage is a lie and your house is a lie, and your children are all lies. But having a lie of a life must be better than being gay, right? But I’m getting away from myself … the cause of all of the lies is homophobia you turn on yourself. You can’t come out of the closet, because you see nothing positive about being gay. Mainstream straight America has filled your impressionable little head with so much shit about how horrible gays are, and everyone, to different extents, has bought into it. Everyone has internalized homophobia issues. It’s all a matter of you confronting them face-to-face.
Sexism. I know how to change a tire. I’m more comfortable in pants and keep my hair short. I enjoy sports and keep up a tough attitude. Most likely you assume I’m a lesbian. After all, this is a gay magazine, so I have to either be a gay man or a gay woman, and we all consider the stereotypes that we hold about each other. Who’s to say that a gay man can’t still have all the same interests as a straight man? They are the same gender—why should their sexuality mean that one is held to different standards than the other?
We talk about how horrible it is that women are expected to fill a certain gender role and that they should be able to do anything a man can, and yet we still have gender expectations in our own community. Men are supposed to be effeminate and fashion-conscious, while women are expected to assume the position of a typical man who wears baggy clothes and can fix any car. If a lesbian is more comfortable in makeup and a skirt, she had better be ready to play the part of the vulnerable woman. Butch women date femme women, and butch men can only date femme men. Everyone plays one role or the other. We have separated ourselves even within our own family. We have separate clubs to go to and different lifestyles that we are compelled to uphold. Sexism has become a major issue in our community. We should work to accept all of our individuality. The first step in destroying gay stereotypes should be to let go of the ones we hold for each other.
Sexism. Internalized homophobia. Ageism. Hate. All forms of hate. If you’re against one, you shouldn’t practice another. The community gets enough hate geared toward it. We shouldn’t point the gun at ourselves. If we want to be accepted, we must first embrace all aspects of our family. Cut the bullshit. Stop making excuses for your hate.
Some of the young writers involved with H.A.T.C.H. now contribute a regular column to the magazine. The phone number for the Houston Area Teen Coalition of Homosexuals is 713/529-3590.
* Because of the age of the writers and the need many have for confidentiality, OutSmart will identify most H.A.T.C.H. contributors by first names only.