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The events that shaped the under-30 mind.

In the past three decades a new generation of gay men and lesbians has grown up. And like our much discussed straight counterparts, Generation Q has come into adulthood in a media-dominated world, has entered professional lives in a multimedia environment, and has endured older generations' tales of the "good old days." But for many, these coming-of-age days arrived amid the furious and fabulous world of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, Queer Nation, and the Lesbian Avengers. Queercore and riot grrrls began to appear in Rolling Stone, and role models who were our peers appeared on MTV. But our lives didn't begin in the 1990s, when the straight media discovered us; we've spent 30 years becoming ourselves.


* Predating gay 'zines by several decades, The Advocate begins printing in a clandestine operation in the basement of ABC Television's Los Angeles headquarters.


* The Metropolitan Community Church is founded by the Rev. Troy Perry to provide a place of worship for gay people. By 1997 MCC has more than 46,000 congregants in over 300 churches.


* The Stonewall riots explode in New York City's Greenwich Village. The rebellion quickly becomes mythic and is considered the birth of gay liberation. As with all truly legendary events, the details depend on who is telling the story, In 1996 the BBC-backed film Stonewall is released in this country.


* In Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and San Francisco, the first gay pride events mark the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. In 1997 gay pride is celebrated in 150 locations around the globe.

* Voicing the frustrations of lesbians, Del Martin, cofounder of Daughters of Bilitis, the country's first lesbian organization, pens the essay "Good-bye, My Alienated Brothers," bidding adieu to the predominantly male gay-lib movement and committing herself to the women's movement.


* Donn Teal's The Gay Militants documents gay liberation since 1969. The book becomes a critical text for a generation just born to later understand what was going on while they were in diapers.


* Women's music finds a home at Olivia Records, and it becomes the model of grassroots feminist music, paving the way for performer-producers such as Ani DiFranco and her Righteous Babe label.

* Filmmaker John Waters introduces the fabulously vile Pink Flamingos, starring the legendary drag performer Divine. In 1988 Hairspray introduces a new generation to Waters's perverse brand of genius.


* "Zaps" by gay activists on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Marcus Welby, MD. presage later media savvy in getting both attention and results by groups such as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, ACT UP, Queer Nation, and the Lesbian Avengers.


* The American Psychiatric Association agrees to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

* Two books by lesbians--Rita Mae Brown's Rubyfruit Jungle and Patricia Nell Warren's The Front Runner--begin appearing on library bookshelves for future young gay and bisexual people to discover.


* Disco peaks, two years before straight people discover it through Saturday Night Fever. The music of Gloria Gaynor, Donna Summer, and Sylvester makes a comeback in the 1990s when a generation relives its nonconsensual polyester childhood.

* Appearing on the cover of Time, Sgt. Leonard Matlovich becomes the poster boy for gays in the military.


* Two thousand women gather for the first Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, which over the years has brought out countless young lesbians to flaunt their bare breasts. In 1997 the festival welcomed riot-grrrl groups and--in what has become another tradition--shut out transsexuals.


* Florida citrus-industry spokeswoman and fundamentalist Christian Anita Bryant leads a repeal of a gay rights ordinance in Dade County. In doing so, she galvanizes a nation of lesbians and gay men to come out.


* San Francisco mayor George Moscone and openly gay supervisor Harvey Milk are slain by ex-supervisor Dan White. Milk becomes both an inspiration for gay people and the subject of a 1995 opera.

* Thousands of youths continue to benefit from the presence of gay teachers in their classrooms after the defeat of California's Proposition 6, which sought to ban lesbian and gay teachers from working in public schools.


* The first march on Washington for lesbians and gay men draws 100,000 people to the nation's capital in a civil rights protest.

* Frustration erupts into rage as Dan White is found guilty of mere manslaughter for the assassinations, of Harvey Milk and George Moscone. The White Night riots shock a nation as an angry San Francisco mob sets police cars ablaze and does over $1 million worth of damage.


* Lesbians and gay men picket the films Cruising and Windows, each of which features, respectively, a gay and a lesbian psychotic killer. As a sign of progress, about a decade later lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered activists protest The Silence of the Lambs and Basic Instinct for, respectively, their transgendered and bisexual psycho killers.

* Sixteen servicewomen aboard the USS Norton Sound are accused of being gay. Four are discharged before proceedings are dropped. In 1997 military women are found to be charged with homosexuality in vastly disproportionate numbers to their male counterparts under the Clinton administration's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.


* MTV begins broadcasting, shaping a generation's view of popular culture and making possible careers for gay icons such as Boy George, Annie Lennox, Courtney Love, Madonna, Morrissey, Me'Shell Ndegeocello, and Michael Stipe.

* Early reports of what would later be identified as AIDS appear in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco just as many Generation Q'ers hit puberty. For most teenagers, AIDS continues to be an abstract concept for years.

* The Vito Russo book The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies becomes an instant classic and, in 1995, an awardwinning documentary.


* After short box-office lives, the films Making Love and Personal Best make their way to cable TV, where in the wee hours of the night in their own living rooms many young lesbians and gay men get their first peek at gay sex.


* Defiant of the R rating, young lesbians flock to the stylish vampire flick The Hunger, starring Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon. Twelve years later in an exclusive interview with The Advocate, Deneuve reveals she's suing the lesbian magazine Deneuve for using her name without permission. In 1996 the magazine agrees to change its name to avoid legal action by the lesbian icon.

* Alison Bechdel's comic strip "Dykes to Watch Out For" begins appearing in lesbian and gay newspapers. It not only gives young lesbians a sense of identification but becomes a vital resource as Lesbianism for Gay Men 101.


* Another Mother Tongue by Judy Grahn; Sister Outsider. Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde; and This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Gloria Anzaldua and Cherrie Moraga, are published. For gay college students over the next decade, the books bring a new awareness of identity and oppression as a multilayered experience.

* As the lesbian sex wars continue to rage, On Our Backs becomes the journal of note, and JoAnn Loulan pens Lesbian Sex. Many lesbians and bisexual women now in their 20s and early 30s wonder what all the fuss was about.

* Meanwhile, young gay men are erotically charged and strangely empowered when Frankie Goes to Hollywood tells everyone to "Relax" on MTV and the band's leaders announce they are an S/M gay couple.


* Rock Hudson's announcement that he has AIDS takes awareness of the disease into the heart land. Even though many adolescents only vaguely know who Hudson is, the event becomes a media circus, increasing awareness about AIDS and the power of the closet.

* The HIV antibody test is introduced.

* In the film Desert Hearts a college professor and a gambling girl have great sex and find happiness. The movie lays the tracks for the independent gay cinema to come.


* In its most explicitly homophobic decision ever, the U.S. Supreme Court rules in Bowers v. Hardwick that sodomy laws are constitutional, condoning states' criminalization of consensualgaysex.

* The first-ever anthology of black gay literature, In the Life, edited by Joseph Beam, is published by Alyson Publications, a gay publishing house.


* During the second march on Washington, half a million people protest to chants of "Shame! Shame! Shame!" at the White House, occupied by Ronald Reagan, who was mum about AIDS during the early years of the epidemic. The AIDS memorial quilt is unveiled for the first time and in the years to follow touches hundreds of thousands of young people as portions of the quilt travel to their hometowns and schools.

* Two days later more than 600 lesbians, gay men, and their supporters are arrested while protesting the Bowers decision and the government's inadequate response to AIDS. It was the largest number of people ever to be arrested at the Supreme Court. Coupled with the ACT UP protest on Wall Street earlier in the year, this heralds a new era in direct action by activists.


* October 11 becomes National Coming Out Day. With a cool logo by graffiti artist Keith Haring, the day becomes an instant hit, especially on college campuses.

* Calvin Klein's Obsession ads, music videos, and a nationwide gym culture objectify men with the same impossible standards women have faced for decades. By the 1990s eating disorders, once the sole province of young women, begin showing up among young gay men.


* The fierce but short-lived magazine OutWeek hits the streets with a column of famous names known or rumored to be gay. This lays the seeds for outing, a hotly debated tactic in the early 1990s.


* Queer Nation is founded by a group of young gay New Yorkers. Known for flamboyant political acts and attempts to recognize the intersection of sexuality, gender, class, and race, members hold kissins at malls, chanting "We're here. We're queer. Get used to it!"


* Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak, an anthology edited by Lani Kaahumanu and Loraine Hutchins, breaks new ground, bringing higher visibility to bisexuals.

* Made up of equal parts postmodernism, gender studies, multiculturalism, popular culture, and a celebration of the margins, queer theory sweeps colleges and coffeehouses. Many older lesbians and gay men are left wondering when the word queer became so acceptable.


* "Lesbian chic" comes into vogue as k.d. lang comes out in The Advocate, Newsweek does a cover story on lesbians, and the group Lesbian Avengers is founded.

* A new wave of independent films dubbed "new queer cinema"--including Gregg Araki's The Living End, Todd Haynes's Poison, and a few years later Rose Troche and Guinevere Turner's Go Fish--push boundaries in both mainstream and gay culture.

* Young gay people find hope in President Clinton's election, until his "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military leaves many feeling betrayed. Statewide elections are also a mixed bag: While Oregon's antigay Measure 9 is defeated, Colorado voters pass the notorious Amendment 2.


* The night before the third march on Washington, the Lesbian Avengers lead more than 20,000 women down Pennsylvania Avenue in the Dyke March, the largest-ever lesbian march. A number of cities subsequently adopt the Dyke March tradition.

* Drag enjoys a renaissance as RuPaul becomes Supermodel of the World and then a year later The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert cruises through multiplexes across the country.


* Pedro Zamora and Sean Sasser become celebrities as the HIV-positive lovers on MTV's The Real World. Simply by living their lives, falling in love, and having a commitment ceremony--even as Zamora grows ill--the charismatic couple mirror their Generation Q peers. In November Zamora dies of AIDS complications, and an entire generation mourns.


* America embraces the Internet, and going on-line transforms the ways gay people organize and socialize. By this time most major online services have sites for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender resources. For many people under 30, this is old news.

* Openly gay Olympic diver Greg Louganis, with whom a whole generation grew up, announces he is gay and has AIDS.


* Congress approves the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which outlaws federal recognition of same-sex marriages. The Supreme Court rules Amendment 2 unconstitutional. And faced with the possibility of legalized same-sex marriage in Hawaii, 16 state legislatures pass their own DOMAs.

* Pop star Melissa Etheridge and filmmaker Julie Cypher become spokesmoms for the lesbian baby boom, announcing that they are expecting a baby. For many gays under 30, having kids is understood to be a viable option.

* Protease inhibitors change the face of AIDS, giving HIV-positive people hope that the disease may become a manageable condition. But counselors warn that young people may see the drugs as a reason to not practice safer sex


* Ellen DeGeneres and the title character on her ABC sitcom step out of the closet and into history after a megahyped coming-out. Over 36 million watch.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Liberation Publications, Inc.
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:a new generation of successful gays and lesbians
Author:Finlay, Jennifer
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:Aug 19, 1997
Previous Article:Down and out.
Next Article:Generation Q politics: the best and brightest under 30.

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