Saturday, January 25, 2020
I have blogged about this before but sometimes we make the mistake of judging ourselves in this time frame, using today's standards for mistakes we made years ago. That's unfair to our younger self because of two things, first we didn't have all the life experience to draw from, how many times now, do we find ourselves in a bad situation and it makes us kick into gear and do the things we wished.. would have been known to us back then. We also learn from watching others, knowledge is power and as we get older it's about the only power that increases for us.
The second thing that is unfair when judging our younger selves, is the time frame. Things that are good now, start to give us a false sense that they have always been good and that we just didn't grasp it at the time. However that's not true and I was reminded this week of past issues that were quite serious. I will talk about judging myself regarding being gay but being overly harsh on your younger self can apply to anyone about anything. I had been feeling sorry for myself after reading Sixpence's blog post regarding what a little tramp he was at an early age... and I say that with a little envy. My old feelings of wasting my life started up again. I hate the fact that as far as my gay life was concerned, I pretty much deleted it until reaching my forties.
I was listening to an interview with a woman about something horrible that happened to her. She is only a couple of years older than me. In 1984 when she turned 19 she joined the Canadian military, with the goal of becoming an army medic, she did very well in her training and was accepted gladly into a program to reach her dream. One day two men came to the base, arrested her, handcuffed her and dragged her off to an interrogation room. There they kept asking her if she was gay. Only a young woman, alone and 19, she was smart enough to say no. A few days later they pulled her in and did this again. Finally one of the men said that if she admitted the truth, they just wanted to know either way and she would be fine, nothing would happen to her. However if she lied and they found out after that she was lying, things would be really bad for her. She confessed to being confused about being gay. She was given a dishonorable discharge from the military and told that she can never apply for any type of government job for the rest of her life for being gay.
She was being interviewed because they are going to build a monument to remember the LGBTQ purge that happened from the 1950s until 1990 by the Canadian government. It sounds unbelievable that it was still happening in 1990 here in Canada. I was reminded of that being the mindset of the day, I would have been a kid still in high school. I can't imagine little shy, quiet, naive me... being dragged into a dark room with a bright light stuck in my face, "ARE YOU GAY!!! Are you GAAAY"??? That's the time frame we were in back then.
The other thing I have to remember is that gay people were dropping left, right and center with some new disease called AIDS. Nobody knew what the heck was going on. People were terrified that mosquitoes would transfer the virus, that swimming in a public pool would give you the virus or being on a crowded bus. I remember hearing the warnings to keep away from gay men, they were carriers like sick foxes or skunks with rabies. I remember a woman saying, gay people should all be put on an island and left to die, segregated from "normal" people, she said that she is not heartless, we can drop food but keep them away from everyone else. Aids was lurking behind every tree, just waiting to pounce on a young gay man like me, exposing me to everyone I knew as the hidden deviant amongst them.
I have to keep remembering those days, we were being hunted, we were something that looked human but were a damaged subhuman, we were a scourge to be left to die on an island. Growing up in the country was even more isolating. I have to forgive that Steven, he was a child becoming a man and he was in survival mode, actually I should be proud of that kid, he did this all on his own with no guidance and came through it relatively sane. I have to recognize why he didn't believe it was safe to start coming out at thirty. Plus life threw a bizarre twist at him, where every single male friend he made, always turned out to be straight and that also makes a difference. I have to forgive that kid, I have to learn to forgive me.