There seems to a generational thing about how well lesbians and gay men are to get along. Certainly not as a general thing because there are exceptions of all sorts. But among people older than me there seems a strange tendency to distrust the other species. This always struck me as strange given that the early days of AIDS were much more a male problem and yet many women rallied to the fight. Perhaps it was the fact that so many of that generation got so used to hiding and not sharing their true selves, they even got cut off from their opposite numbers.
Now, people a generation younger seem to have no such hang ups. Although all of the victims of the recent rash of teen bullying-induced suicides were young men, there were as many women weeping and marching in solidarity. Clearly at some point they realized they had more causes in common—the ability to get married, serve openly in the military, and not be bullied to death outweighed what gender they slept with (what a concept!) I certainly play well with gay women. At the risk of sounding like an apologetic racist, “Some of my best friends are lesbians!” But it’s true. I can give you names and numbers!
When I wrote my novel, Rounding Third, I knew it would find a large audience of gay men who had once been bullied as gay teens. And friends who had written teenage gay love stories had told me their books found sizeable following of straight teenage girls. What I hadn’t anticipated was how many lesbians liked the book. There are no lesbians in the story and just a few prominent female characters, even. But many women who read it told me they very much indentified with the struggles of the main characters.
One woman told me she identified with the main character’s struggles to fit in on the baseball team because all through high school she wanted to play baseball but was repeatedly told that girls don’t play baseball, they play softball. Other women told me that they too could relate to the characters struggles because as girls they were celebrated for their athletic prowess on the field then shunned and ridiculed for being “too dykey” off it.
I referred to the bullying and sufferings of being a shy closeted gay boy in a op-ed piece I wrote about the gay bullying crisis for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10283/1093642-109.stm) and for Gay.com’s Writes of Passage (http://daily.gay.com/hot_topics/2010/10/writes-of-passage-walter-g-meyer.html) and recorded a video for the It Gets Better Project (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vF25Az4-SQU) We can hope that it does get better for gay youth and perhaps some day in the not too distant future my novel will be seen as preserving a sad time in our history in an almost quaint way as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” now is. Certainly things will get better faster if gay men and lesbians and transgendered people and all other queers and our straight allies all put aside our minor differences and work together to improve the world and the school climate for all students, especially those who feel different—which actually includes the vast majority of kids.
Walter G. Meyer is the author of three published books and hundreds of magazine articles, many on gay subjects for both the gay and mainstream press. Much of his work can be read and he can be contacted at www.waltergmeyer.com/