I grew up in a quite conservative New England environment - a place and a time where homosexuality was completely invisible. However, once moving to New York City in 1969 and settling in Greenwich Village, I was immediately exposed to a relatively open world of gays. At first, it was shocking and a little unsettling. See my story No Red Faces here. However, in a short time, I was educated at Sidewalk University and came to see homosexuality as just a fact of life, a part of the human condition, across cultures and going back as long as humans have been on planet earth. My education came from many sources, including association with gays and my employment of a number of gay individuals in my business. What is puzzling is the continuing hostility towards gays and the struggle for gay rights.
Anyone exposed to members of the gay community knows that the breadth of personalities mirrors that in the straight community. Yes, there are gays who are quite outlandish in their dress and manner, however, just examining the stories in the website alone should be ample evidence that the flamboyant is not the exclusive domain of either the gay or straight community. The annual gay parade, like any parade, is self selective - many parade participants will be that small number who are more exhibitionistic by nature. I would hope the straight community is not judged by the drunken revelry found in the annual Santacon.
However, even at this juncture in time in New York City, I still see a fair amount of polarization of the straight and gay communities with minimal involvement of one group within the other. Some are concerned, and rightly so, that being an advocate of one lifestyle implies hostility towards the other. The small group of marchers who met in Washington Square Park on Sunday, Straight without Hate, were a new twist on sexual orientation advocacy.
In my own large extended family, we have, like most, learned over recent years of a number of gays. Only one cousin has been open with me about this. The last I spoke to him, he had moved to Manhattan. The rest still live in a shroud of secrecy and embarrassment with quiet gossip. Sad, as I am sure this is stressful and a heavy cross to bear for them, their families and friends.
No reason to resist, because as always, the times they are a-changin' ...