Wednesday, December 10, 2008

You read it here first.

At the end of November this blog wrote of the generational differences between young gays and their older counterparts. I argued that the younger gays “never lived under a government that would arrest them for merely being out with other gay people” while older gays knew this fear and many others. One result was that young gays simply didn’t want to do “that Harvey Milk thing” and become activists.

But, I argued that “the Prop 8 vote was a real shock for them, it was a wake up call. I’m betting that hundreds of Harvey Milks were born in the Prop 8 defeat.” I thought that the Mormon funded Prop 8 “put a fire under young gays who were less interested in activism than their older counterparts.”

Now almost two weeks later the newspaper of record, The New York Times has figured out the same thing. They report: “Outraged by California voters’ ban on same-sex marriage, a new wave of advocates, shaken out of generational apathy, have pushed to the forefront of the gay rights movement...”

They quote one new activist, Matt Pallazzolo, 23, saying: “I’d been focused on other things in my life. Then Nov. 4 happened, and it woke me up.” Mr. Pallazzolo echoed precisely the observation I made: “We’ve been spoiled,” he said, referring to gays of his age, “Because while we knew we’d been discriminated against in the past, we’d never felt it until now.”

My report was based on observations I made at one of the first showings of the film Milk about gay rights activist Harvey Milk. I noted that I was watching the film in a very conservative city in a very conservative state and that the film clearly had attracted a “large number of young gay people, in their teens and twenties”, young people far too young to have any personal connection to Milk. “Yet I can assure that this film hit them where they live” and it did so because of Prop 8.

Now the New York Times reports:
Quite a few activists said they had also been inspired by the acclaimed film “Milk,” which chronicles the fight by a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Harvey Milk (played by Sean Penn), to beat back a 1978 ballot measure that would have barred gay teachers from California’s public schools.
Justin Lenzi, a 23-year-old chess coach who attends San Francisco State University, said he saw Mr. Milk, who was murdered inside City Hall here shortly after the 1978 election, as a model for activism. So do others in his social set.
“I’m seeing a lot of people at my university, either gay or straight, who want to be part of my cause,” he said.
It was my opinion that the vote on Prop 8 was, for the conservative movement, a phyrric victory. My post in November was meant to explain why I thought that. This New York Times article confirms my observations.