In 1999 the hottest cell phone was the Motorola StarTAC. It was one of the earliest flip phones on the market. All the cool kids wanted one of these behemoths. At the same time the Britons were creating a show that would be replicated in the United States, Queer As Folk. There are two editions. The British came first. While watching it for the first time in years, I thought it would be good to see how far we have come since then.
1999 seems like ancient history. I came out of the closet to myself that year. I was only one year out of high school. Pittsburgh called me to be my new home. To me, gay rights had no hope of getting better. People were closeted at work. They were closeted at home. Kids didn’t come out until after high school. Back then, people came out at 25, now they come out on average at 15.
I personally don’t feel the need to stay closeted at work anymore. This may just be a personal change, but I have a feeling that it is a cultural change. Shows like Will & Grace and this ShowTime Queer as Folk have helped to show us gay people in real life circumstances. They brought gay characters to the forefront and made them acceptable through comedy and drama. You don’t have to like either show to see what impact they have had on our lives. I’m not afraid to be out at work. In fact, it isn’t even an issue for me. That is saying a lot.
Some things stay the same. The gay bar is still a safe place to go and find people. It’s where we can have fun and be ourselves without feeling like people are looking at us because of our sexual orientation. We still listen to disco, just 21st century disco today. I highly doubt that promiscuity has gone away. Anecdotally, if I was in my early 20s today, I would still be a whore.
Others things change. There are fewer LGBT rights issue today in much of the country. We have made many inroads into the world of the straight people. I feel like we are less treated like, frankly, freaks. We’re starting to be look upon as normal humans. Unfortunately this has not spread across the country. In New York metro area for example we are treated as equals. In other areas we are not. In all it is much better than in 1999. It takes time.
We can get married now, unlike in 1999. Back then we could only dream of marriage equality. I didn’t even consider it possible. Today I still think we need to work on inclusiveness. Let’s not push people away, but bring them into our lives. There is no magic that can make our lives more equal. We just need to let know that things have gotten better in the last 17 years.