Ageism and activism…
Published Thursday, 19-Aug-2010 in issue 1182
For all of you who felt the pain of Wednesday’s news of the stay now is the time to not ask, but demand your fundamental rights. We have shouted, yelled, rioted, protested, rallied together, celebrated, marched, fought, died, lost and won. We have asked and pleaded at times, being polite and at other times demanding. Every person under thirty owes a huge thank you to the many that came before us, who have made possible what we take for granted. We truly stand on the backs of giants. They stood in a time and place where militant action risked it all: job, friends, family, safety and life itself.
How do some in the community repay them? Many have respect for the generations that came before them, valuing their wisdom and contributions. Others see only the present, denigrating the old with harsh looks, comments like troll and dirty old man. Too often they are greeted with disapproving stares and cruel asides when they dare to try to socialize in clubs and bars packed with the fresh young faces they once were. What do you think will happen to you one day? Do you truly believe you are ageless? They have out lived HIV/AIDS in a crisis that the young will never have to see in the same light, without social services and in a time and place when being a homo would get you locked up or killed. They stood up defiantly, building for themselves what the state would not give them; like the first food and meds for those dying of AIDS. The city or the government offered no assistance as they didn’t want to get any “gay cancer” on their hands. They were the ones who made our very freedom possible at the risk of everything and with the hope in their hearts they would live to see future generations reap the benefits.
We are not taught our own history in schools. Our culture and past are not portrayed very often and in a way that fully represents us. We act as though we have something they want….dreadful behavior! Have we no respect for our elders?
They have and continue to fight for our rights and in the meantime a handful of young people have stood up and picked up the torch. That should be applauded. However, it is a lot more convenient now than it was then and don’t you think they get sick of carrying the majority on their backs?
What happens when they are gone and our history is lost and our rights are at a standstill? A vacuum is created as a consequence of being spoiled and acting with breathtaking indifference. This also happens in reverse as the very young GLBT’s are marginalized, for the opposite reason. They are cast aside as they cannot get into bars and are sent an extremely mixed message of being not the right age. You count when you are under 25 but not under 18! Why create this narrow age window? It’s pointless.
The eating of our own in any manner is terrible. The eating of our very young and old, who we are supposed to guide and protect, is unacceptable. While this issue is about activism, standing up against ageism is yet another forum in which we can become activists and strengthen our community.
The young should feel confident that they have a voice that counts, for they are the future. The old are our foundation on which the GLBT community was built and for that they should feel proud, comfortable and respected. Both are necessary for our future rights as much as everyone in between.
We as a community are the most diverse and hold the light right now for the rest of the world. Our fight for our rights gives hope to those across the world and the nation. Our common thread and bond is that we are all part of this community living in the height of the gay rights movement. Old, middle aged and young, we are all here together, alive and living through this progressive time in history where things are changing. Let’s all be a part of the change in any way that we can. Let us all be of service to one another, put our differences aside and embrace who we are.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world” - Ghandi