Growing up in the eighties and nineties was indeed a singular experience. As I get older, I realize precisely how much those years were unique, shaping the generations in them in precise ways. I also have learned that those are some of my most popular posts and will be doing almost its own series on that topic.
The decades of the eighties and nineties have left an indelible mark on the world, in tech, culture, and every other aspect you can imagine. There was no way you could spend any, let alone ALL of your formative years in this time, and not be unequivocally shaped by it. Yes, everyone is shaped by the time they grow up in. Still, there is a huge difference in growing up in a time that hasn’t had any substantial technological advancements, the stirrings of a plague (HIV/AIDS), cultural shifts, the advent of the 24-hour news cycle, cultural explosions, and so much more that are the hallmark of these decades.
Growing up and realizing you are a queer person during this time period was confusing and terrifying. The other day some radio hosts talked about it, saying that they never really thought about it until a friend of theirs pointed it out over the weekend. All I could do was smile. Yes, I am so happy that we are where we are, we have rights we fought hard to attain, and we continue to be leaders in the fight for civil rights everywhere. Much of that, though, is because of the struggles and hatred we all had in our faces while growing up.
We all were terrified of the “gay disease,” too young in the late eighties and early nineties to know they were really only bashing gay men when talking about HIV. Not to say there was not plenty of hatred towards lesbians or bi-sexuals, because trust me, there was. And yes, those were the only options known to most out there in more rural areas especially. It was a time where admitting to one of those was unthinkable to most people, let alone venturing into the world of pansexuality and staying far away from anything regarding transgender or binary/non-binary issues.
After childhoods full of hearing nothing but badness about the LGBT community, as we came into our teen years in the mid-late nineties, we have some wonderfully horrific instances in succession. In 1997, after years of speculation, Ellen DeGeneres came out in real life and on her show. From there, we got to watch someone who took a considerable risk to advance the LGBT community be bashed, hated, and have her career and life destroyed for daring to be herself.
Then, in 1998, the instance that is one of the most unforgettable and profoundly affecting too many LGBTQ+ members of my age – Matthew Shepard was beaten and left for dead, tied to a fence in Laramie, Wyoming. We got to watch and listen as not only did the news split, with some coming out against this crime, some less so, and no matter which side they were on, horrible phrases and attitudes coming out in general about the gay lifestyle.
Then, we got the gay panic defense. So. That was great. There is nothing like being a kid who has already grown up seeing the hatred spewed under so many guises, hearing the smear words faot and deon NEWS programs regularly, seeing people who dare life and come out and be themselves be destroyed. The only thing that can make that even better is being a teen with that background and seeing a college man, not that much older than ourselves, killed for simply being himself. And then to watch in horror as the men who killed him in cold blood claimed it was justified because he SUPPOSEDLY “came onto them,” and threatened them by doing so.
This was and STILL IS an allowable defense, guys. It wasn’t the first time that this defense was used, though one of the most notable. Sadly, it wasn’t even close to the last. As of today, only 12 states have actually declared this defense illegal, and the first southern state, Virginia, finally outlawed it earlier this week. It’s 2021, guys. You think this shit didn’t have a profound effect on those of us who realized we were gay in the height of this insanity?
Maybe because others feel this way is why these are my most popular topics. Perhaps because of my passion for escaping into my geek world, those are my other most popular topics. Whatever the reason, these are the topics you guys seem to want more of, so I am happy to deliver. I can not tell you how it will go, but we will all be in it together.
It will be an exciting ride. Let’s get into it together all.
After all – that is how I see it.

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