1. says

    Those who have a strong understanding of where we’ve been tend to have the strongest idea of where we’re going, and how to get there in the most empowered state.

    Take heart, my beloved vanguards who opened the doors for me and my generation: the youth aren’t as laissez-faire as some of you may think. there’s a world of moved and humbled LGBT youth who know very well who is responsible for the progress made that’s paved the way for them. :-)

    this commentary makes sense, and is indeed something Newbies need to read up on. the best way to overcome your learned self-loathing and insecurities about being gay? learn about the actual journey to LGBT Equality – it’s riddled with characters and icons who will empower you and give you something beautiful to believe in and hold as inspiration.

    and a side note to right-wing conservative gays: star showing some respect for the people and groups you’ve been conditioned by your right-leaning communities to loathe. you cant’ be mad at all those gays and liberals and gay liberals when any and every grain of freedom you have to hold today was given to you by THEM.

  2. Mike in the Tundra says

    Little Kiwi, I don’t want to be a downer, but I think we’re most concerned about those who are younger than you.

  3. steve says

    I don’t know if learning history is as important as he says. I think if you’re an empowered, happy, “out” gay man living in the world then in many ways I think you’re living the purpose that all the gay rights activists wanted for future generations. I think there are many gay men who are living and breathing examples of everything that gay rights activists wanted, and I don’t think they necessarily need to know their history.

  4. Tim says

    Steve: I agree with what you say in that empowerment, happiness, and being “out” are indeed “living the purpose that all the gay rights activists wanted for future generations.” Well said.

    However, I have to respectfully disagree with your statement that our history is not as important as Staley says. In many ways, these people fought so that we could exist. History is also important, I think, in forming a sense of collective identity. Any group asserts its reality, its collective sense of purpose, through its history. Its like saying, “we have stories worth telling, and they should be remembered. We deserve to be recognized through those stories: not just by our own, but by other people, too.”

  5. says

    To Tim’s point, when I hear a lot of the younger people saying (as Newbies and Younger People tend to say) “Why do I have to care about _______?” or “What is there to be proud of?” …..well… if you point them toward our collective history, to see whom it was that was opening those doors, and how they did it, and when they did (context, folks) it’s pretty darn hard to not be moved and inspired.

    Not sure if you’re proud to be a member of the LGBT communities yet? Read your history. Realize there’s much to be proud of.

  6. noteasilyoffended says

    Knowing the history of any movement is important. How one or a group got to a place can be a good way to anticipate the future. It’s important for younger folks to know that one CAN make a difference and initiate (demand) change. I think it’s important that younger gays and lesbians know that the gay movement is more than Stonewall. They should know that standing up for your life is important. They should see the news reels of gay men and lesbians storming the NIH and standing on the canopy to the building DEMANDING what they thought was necessary to save their lives. It shows them our government can be forced to do things they would rather drag their feet on. Younger folks might gain insight from learning about die-in’s. There’s Jobriath and, yes, even the hanky code. OK, some things are more important that others, but each bit of history pushed our movement forward. Maybe I’m getting old, but I still believe that knowing where you come from is important.

  7. DG says

    If ‘knowing history’ isn’t that important to some folks, perhaps they need to look at the rising HIV infection rates amongst young gay men. Maybe learning about how we dealt with it could teach them how to stay healthy.
    But, just in general, I have little interest in anyone who doesn’t understand the importance of knowing history. The cliche is true – those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it, as the willfully ignorant trajectory of the human species continues to prove over and over again.

  8. (the other)jamesintoronto says

    Knowing the history of the LGBT movement is important if only so it never happens again. And trust me, there is a strong conservative movement out there that would love to see our community stripped of all the advances and rights we have achieved. Complacency and a lack of historical perspective will always be our biggest enemy.

  9. bandanajack says

    as one of the least known of those that did the fighting(and still has not attained full citizenship, i am please to hear any recognition of those decades of fighting and work.

    thank you little kiwi and others

  10. Francis says

    As a 22 year old, I’ve always felt it was necessary to know the history of our movement in this country for the simple fact that I wanted to know the pioneers of our movement and who the people are that have enabled us, and enabled me, to be in the position we are today. Who the men and women are that spearheaded change. Without them, where the hell would I be? Or any of us younger gays?

    It’s especially important in regards to HIV and STD’s in general, and realizing an entire generation of gay men were ravaged and killed due to homophobia from our government when HIV was becoming an epidemic and how individuals rose up against Republican controlled presidencies and demanded action be taken and took the steps to educate themselves on the science of HIV. Younger gays today tend to have a laissez faire attitude regarding STD’s, thinking medication is the end all be all, and having views on sex that are at the very least ignorant, and at the most very damaging and a product of self-loathing. It’s good to see Peter Stanley speaking up for our youth. Hopefully all gay men who have been fighting through these social wars and went through the HIV crisis continue speaking out and making sure our young gay and bi boys listen up. Conservatives want young gay and bi boys to become statistics and we cannot give them the satisfaction.

  11. Lars says

    Knowing history is important, I would be the first to agree. But equally important is critiquing the people and movements of the past. I’m afraid that sometimes there is this notion that, because we didn’t live through some certain thing or another, we are therefore not allowed to carefully examine those people who paved the way for us.

    The Teabaggers are especially guilty of this narrow-mindedness, in their quest to deify our Founding Fathers. Historical inquiry that is devoid of nuance, or that tries to white-wash problematic elements, is worse than useless. Let’s not fall prey to the same folly by making certain figures or their chosen tactics sacrosanct.

  12. says

    There’s noneed to be sacrosanct. Even a cursory review of gay history shows all sorts of people with all sorts of ideads, often at odds with one another but coming together for the good of all in times of crisis. This is why we’ve come so far so fast. And our work is FAR from over.

  13. mark says

    where the point is well-made and certainly well-taken, the history of peter staley and his friends teaches us only one version of the history of the AIDS epidemic. unfortunately left out are the ways that class and race have continued to over-determine health outcomes for the vast majority of people struggling with hiv and AIDS today (it’s not just that young people are struggling with higher infection rates, it’s young people of color). where the work of the people featured in the film is laudable and the film well-made, it’s not hard to see how a group of relatively educated, relatively rich, almost all white men were able to do the work they did.

  14. jason says

    Enough of the victimhood politics, Staley. The message to young gay men should be ‘stop being promiscuous with total strangers’. Works every time…

  15. Ellipse Kirk says

    Knowing history, both about the progress of gay rights and the trauma of the AIDS ongoing crisis, is important not just to keep from slipping back. It it important to really know that progress is possible, if we continue to work at it.

  16. says

    I certainly want and need to know the history and stories that brought us to this point. I don’t want to be one of those who think we miraculously came to have our current level of rights without a struggle.

    I want to know about the Greeks, The Sacred Band of Thebes,the Spartans, Oscar Wilde, the holocaust of the Pink Triangle, the criminalisation of all of us, Stonewall, Harvey Milk, AIDS,the soldiers of ACT-UP, Lawrence -v- Texas, and the little bitches above who still discriminate against hiring a gay Police Officer…….

    I want to know and understand all of it; because it is obvious that active discrimination is endemic, as the story from Ohio proves. And as bullying of kids in schools proves.

    I don’t want to think I just beamed into some delusional gay happy valley.
    Why do I need to know this ? because it is what has made us; because we must be vigilent; because Uganda , Iran, even Russia still treat us gays as low lifes; because the Pope calls us “intrinsically disordered”.
    Because I’m not smug enough to sit backon my a$$; our journey and this story is not over.
    And I don’t think the younger generation think so either; the momentum for change and
    equality comes from them.

  17. says

    @ STEVE :

    I’m not “living the purpose that all gay rights activists wanted for future generations….”
    I’m living the opportunity that they worked for.
    It was they who gave us this time……that’s worth knowing about and makes all this more precious to me.

  18. entrepoid says

    It’s only :”Gay History” in terms of subject matter, not in terms of who owns it. All history is everyone’s history. The struggle for LGBT civil rights, and the AIDS crisis is part of American History, it is part of World History. Sexual minorities have never had self awareness and worked for equal rights in the known history of the world. This is a story that should be of interest to everyone, not just LGBT people. Just as I am inspired by the stories of people struggling for freedom from internal colonialism in Austria-Hungary or from foreign colonialism in Africa, why can’t a straight person be inspired by the HUMAN story of LGBT civil rights?

  19. pigboye says

    Wow, Peter Staley manages to get an entire documentary made about him, and situates himself in front of a camera – again. HUGE surprise….

    and speaking of learning your “gay history”, does he mention his personal history of using his time on HIV related disability to become an aged partyboy meth head? I am so over these fame whores…..

  20. Diogenes Arktos says

    @Entrepoid: I agree wholeheartedly that everyone should be inspired by the human story of history – for good or bad.

    It absolutely horrifies me the extent to which the Republicans are blind to anything before 2009.

    It’s also sad that another group, the African Americans, can be as clueless about their history as LGBT people are. And it’s (supposedly) already an established part of the curriculum!

  21. V-8 says

    we need to know our history in case someone tries to erase it… it’s been done, many times, to many groups, before…. if not tended, cultures die, history is what remains…

  22. entrepoid says

    @ Buckie, that is a quote of George Santayana, a Hispanic American Philosopher who was gay (but closeted). But how many people know that? His critique of the United States’s imperialism was almost unique for it’s time.
    @Di0genes Arktos: here in SF we just funded a history (called a Context Statement) of African Americans in San Francisco, the purpose of which will be to discover whether their are sites that are sufficiently significant to warrant Landmark Status. A Context Statement for LGBT history for SF was privately done by a group of us a decade ago (not because any of us are rich but because we knew to do it), which became the first Context Statement for LGBT history in the country. It will probably expanded and updated. We will probably also fund a Latino History Context statement, which is in the works. These become official city documents that affect Planning and Land use decisions. History matters.

  23. Wilberforce says

    I certainly wouldn’t look at Staley’s version of history, the usual mainstream, ghetto queen’s whitewash of the community’s non-response to HIV. Even now, thirty years later, there is no effort to stop HIV. It’s a disgrace.

  24. ratbastard says

    @Lil’ Phukface,

    Alcoholics Anonymous called; they want their spiel back.

    You’re like one of those very annoying ‘ex’ this or that, out to annoy every person around you. You’re essentially a rigid thinking fanatic,no different than a religious extremist or any other type of extremist. And like them, the abrasive and bullying behavior you engage in is an attempt to control others.

    Have a nice day.

  25. DC Arnold says

    This powerful Documentary reminded me of how, after MLK was killed, blacks forgot to press the issue of equality post mourning. Gay men forgot to hammer home the use of condoms after medication made AIDS manageable. The proliferation of bareback porn has me aghast at the acceptance of watching young men kill themselves.