Well this phrase certainly sums up the entire “gay agenda” now doesn’t it? One of the insidious accusations pitched our way around a “gay agenda” is that we need to recruit to our ranks. Reproducing, per conventional wisdom, is not one of our strong points, this despite the fact that many queers do reproduce.
I would though argue that self-acceptance is really a very potent recruitment tool. That is if you define recruitment as the creation of safe space for people to get in touch and express their intrinsic identity. No brainwashing or perverted sexual enticement needed, just provide a bit of sunlight and water and voila. Not to indulge too much in a trite metaphor but it is like a flower blooming. When given the chance queerness reaches its full potential and gloriously presents itself for all to see and appreciate. Homophobia both from external sources and the more insidious internalized form can prevent this from happening.
I could pontificate on this for a few more paragraphs and come up with a few more cheesy metaphors but since this is meant to be a personal story telling exercise I’ll just say a few words about my own self-acceptance. I was very fortunate to come of age sexually in my late teens in an environment that was in rebellion on many fronts. Civil rights, women’s liberation, strong anti-war sentiment and exploding gay liberation were all ingredients in the stew I found myself in.
We will mark the 50th anniversary of the summer of love this coming year, 2017. I strongly encourage pilgrimages to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in San Francisco. The neighborhood is suffering under the ravages of gentrification but a bit less so than other parts of the City. Since I rarely pass on the opportunity to quote lyrics from my favorite band these couple of lines seem appropriate here:
Nothin’ shakin’ on shakedown street. used to be the heart of town.
Don’t tell me this town ain’t got no heart. you just gotta poke around.
Shakedown Street. Garcia/Hunter
If you get the chance to visit slowly amble along Haight Street and poke around a bit.
My own coming out was certainly facilitated by the social, political and cultural upheavals of the late 1960’s. It is however the personal self-acceptance on a deep soul level that provides the spark for queer actualization and this can take awhile. It is a process and rarely a single bolt of enlightenment. There were ups and downs along this path for me during the first 10 years of that self-discovery. I would date those years of maturing self-acceptance to be roughly from 1966 to 1976. It was capped off and really cemented with the “coming -out” letter I wrote to my father.
His response to my letter was rather unexpected, loving and astonishingly thoughtful. He said that my gayness explained a lot and he now understood better why I had always been sensitive to the underdog. Being Catholic he also encouraged me to search out the Gay Catholic group Dignity. I did that but my participation was fleeting.
I truly regret loosing his letter and not following up better with inquiries as to how he found out about Dignity, dad died in August of 1980 a few short days after the second national gathering of Radical Fairies ended here in Colorado. I suspect though that the Dignity referral came from the same parish priest who I came out to in the early 1970’s. This man who after a painful counseling session, involving my expression of personal doubt about my gay path, put his arm around me and said I would make a great priest! That did not happen.
I do realize that my own personal self-acceptance was much less traumatic that it has been for many. I was truly lucky in this regard and so fortunate to have had a great dad in my corner to help the process along.
I have for some reason been listening to lots of Lucinda Williams these days, especially it seems since November 8th. She has a song that seems apropos to the whole self-acceptance gig for us queers. The title of the tune is “A World Without Tears”: Here is aYou Tube link to aversion of it: