Went to meet H. to talk about when we want to interview alums of [local university] for our history project. She e-mailed a couple of alums, and we talked about contacting others. We have write-ups from a couple of interviews I did by phone and in person, and C.K. sent us a page he wrote about his time at [local university]. S. did a history presentation at the GLBT group's meeting, and that was a program I really wanted to see. He did an overview of some of the issues that gays and lesbians faced in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Employment, military service, mainstream visibility, the impact of AIDS, marriage and adoption issues, and icons were some of the subjects he went over. He mentioned Dr. Evelyn Hooker, Cleve Jones and the Names Quilt, Barbara Gittings, and Harry Hay and the Mattachine Society, among others, in the history part of the talk. He did a heck of a lot of research. S. talked about bar raids, and about beloved female icons for gay men such as Judy Garland, Bette Davis, and Barbra Streisand. Judy Garland is one of his personal icons. He's certainly not alone in that love.
Then S. did a look at the present day, which issues are still with us and how they relate back, and which issues have improved. We said that attitudes in psychiatry have certainly changed, that it was now more the "lunatic fringe" of psychiatrists who believe in reparation therapy and cures for homosexuality, that the mainstream views were far better than that. Mainstream visibility is much better, too, with some icons for gays and lesbians being gay or lesbian themselves. Some of the beloved women movie stars and singers are very openly gay-friendly now.
S. asked about negative portrayals in the media, too. I said among our little discussion group that the right-wing politicians caught by the vice squad in public restrooms weren't setting much of an example, especially when the politicans claim they tried to pick up men because the politicians were drug addicts or alcoholics, not because they just wanted to have sex with men. My contention is that they could be drug addicts or alcoholics also, but you don't try to pick up men for sex unless that's what you want. There are plenty of female prostitutes they could pick up if they wanted sex with women.
M. said that media portrayals of gay men either showed them to be hypersexualized or "neutered." Either all they think about is sex -- well, they are men -- or they're shown as sexless, with all their relationships off-screen, if they have relationships at all. We talked a bit about how some want the media to show only "good gays." They'd just as soon sweep the "embarrassing" parts of the community under the rug. If you don't match the traditional mannerisms and dress for your gender, and don't want vanilla sex, monogamy and a white picket fence, you get a fair amount of pressure to shut up. Of course, this excludes some fairly large portions of the community, but it's important to some to present a nice face, nothing to scare the straights.
I doubt that the politicians who compromised on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" expected there to be greater numbers of witch-hunts under that policy than there had been before. I think S. read Conduct Unbecoming, which has a lot of stories. He told the one about Johnnie Phelps. We discussed a little about whether we thought that policy would change anytime soon.
It's interesting how many of the issues in general are still with us, though some situations have notably improved. Some of the issues have evolved to go very different ways. I thought it was a very good, thought-provoking presentation. S. clearly worked very hard on it. You rock, S.!