Oh, Gentle Reader – do you remember the ’90’s? They were great – no, really!
They were! – especially when it comes to advances in the way the
LGBTQIA* Gay and Lesbian community was viewed. Who can forget the hilarious jokes that we finally felt comfortable making – for instance, about the Gay Agenda?
Everyone knows that you take your long, relaxing brunch AFTER the political shenanigans. Please, honey.
Speaking of mincing about using feminizing pet-names, what about Will and Grace? A show focusing on typical homosexual life? Strictly within the quarantined confines of New York City.
Not to mention that time that Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet on television in 1997, causing all sorts of controversy.
What else caused all sorts of controversy, Gentle Reader? Why, the growing number of states decriminalizing homosexual acts. That’s right! Whereas now we’re watching states light up with the right to marry a partner of the same sex, in those days, we were watching states decide whether or not we should go to jail for not being celibate! Fun Fact: There were 14 states that didn’t decriminalize until 2003, when Lawrence v. Texas made it all the way to the Supreme court. But that’s a little outside our purview; in the ’90’s, you could still go to jail in the Land of the Free for making sweet, sweet, love to your sweetie.
But it wasn’t all bad news for the gays! Our smooth-jazz playing president, Mr. Bill Clinton, signed what was considered an extremely progressive bill into law! Can you guess what bill that was, children?
That’s right! Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell! It was widely hailed as a victory, at the time, because before that you were dishonorably discharged when they found out you were gay, regardless of how discrete or butch you’d been. Under DADT, you were officially allowed to be gay! You just couldn’t talk about it. Progress.
In the Nineties, straight people realized that AIDS wasn’t strictly a gay problem.In the Nineties, work began on the AIDS quilt.
In the Nineties, radical queers reclaimed the word queer, and tried very hard to reclaim “F*ggot” and “D*ke” as well†.
In the Nineties, Matthew Shepard was killed. Eventually, this would result in federal hate-crime legislation protecting gays and lesbians, but not until 2009. His death also resulted in The Laramie Project, which continues to raise awareness and fight hate crimes all over the U. S.
All of this, Gentle Reader? The tip of the iceberg. The ’90’s weren’t so very long ago. We’ve come a long way – and when we look back at the decade, we laugh! We thought we’d made such progress back then – I can only hope we’ll have made as much progress two decades from now, and can look back and laugh at the teens.
*Nope, not QUILTBAG‡, not LGBTQIA‡, rarely even LGBT‡ until the end of the decade. Those things happened later.
†Is this problematic? We all know what words I’m using, despite the asterisks. Shit. I’m trying? I don’t think they were successfully reclaimed, and even if they were, I’d have no right to use the D-word. Sorry, Lesbian Friends.
‡Also, I told a fib. All three of those and more were in use by at least ’96, as near as I can pin it. The first two still aren’t in especially wide usage, though, so I’m counting it.