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Subject: Was it better to be gay in the '70s than the '80s?

Written By: 2001 on 03/09/19 at 9:11 pm

I'm reading through a novel about a family, and it's set in the 1940s-1990s. I'm currently up to 1975, and one of the characters is gay. Now this is just one family in one novel (though it's a fictionalized biography of a real family), so I'm not sure if it's an accurate representation of what it was actually like, but to me it seems like the counterculture of the 1960s ran well into the 1970s including the "free love" aspect as well as the critique of the so-called ideal family units of the 1950s; and gay rights was a small but prominent part of that counterculture. In 1973, the American Psychological Association removed homosexuality from its list of sexual disorders, and many US states decriminalized homosexuality in the 1970s (and it sounds like it was de facto decriminalized before that). It feels like there was growing tolerance towards the whole idea; probably not as much as hostility/moral outrage over it as feeling it was all gross. It feels like it was easier to be gay without backlash then. And then the 1980s came with the AIDS epidemic and erased all that. After that it became more accepted to be homophobic in a hateful way, because being gay was a sickness and the universe was punishing them. Progress on gay rights doesn't sound like it picked up again until the mid-1990s. There were gay pop icons in the 1980s sure (the 1970s had them too), but in terms of landmark legislation unrelated to AIDS, I'm drawing blank.

I would like to hear from people who were around at the time though—how did you see it?  Gay rights probably wasn't on the top of your minds then, but it would be interesting to hear your thoughts nonetheless.  :)

Subject: Re: Was it better to be gay in the '70s than the '80s?

Written By: 2001 on 03/09/19 at 9:24 pm

I found this YouTube video of several 1970s news clips on gay people. It's a really fascinating watch, at least what I've watched so far. :D


Subject: Re: Was it better to be gay in the '70s than the '80s?

Written By: mwalker1996 on 03/09/19 at 9:51 pm

Being gay in the 80s were certainly stigmatized in mainstream America but was accepted in the punk rock community and in The Hair metal was often criticized for men dressing feminine despite being able to get more girls than extremely macho men. I know in San Franciso has always been gay-friendly since the counter culture movement.

Subject: Re: Was it better to be gay in the '70s than the '80s?

Written By: Howard on 03/10/19 at 2:02 pm

I think it was better to be gay in the 1970's, 5-10 years before The AIDS crisis began, At least back then you could go to Studio 54.

Subject: Re: Was it better to be gay in the '70s than the '80s?

Written By: CatwomanofV on 03/10/19 at 3:13 pm

There were no gays prior to the '70s.  ;) :D ;D ;D ;D

I do believe it was in the '70s that people started coming out of the closet. The only reason why I even knew about gays in the early '70s, was because my mother was in theatre and the theatre was always acceptive of gays. I remember my mother once saying, "Gay men make the best girlfriend." (She also once told me that one woman in the cast of a play she was working on said, "I'm so glad to be a lesbian because there isn't a straight man in this cast." )

If it wasn't for being associated with the theatre, I don't think I would have known anything about gays at the time. Later when I worked at a theatre myself, there was one guy who was going at it with his girlfriend in the parking lot. We were all shocked because we all said, "I thought he was gay."  :D ;D ;D We then told them to get a room.

There was one time about '75. We lived next door to a factory. There was a guy who work station was at a window that was opposite our backyard. He used to give us a $20 bill to go and buy lollypops that he would give us. We knew the candy was safe because we bought it. (But he was very trusting of us.) Someone said that we shouldn't take his money to buy candy because he was a homosexual. I really never understood why that made a difference. A pedophile yes, a homosexual, no. I think at the time many people thought that gays were going to "corrupt" children. We only lived in that house for about a year so nothing became of that.

In the last '70s, I used to babysit for a gay man. I never had any issues with it. He once asked me if I ever lost an earring to give him the remaining one. The only time when I had a problem was when his boyfriend came over. He was a real flamer. He came in with his purse over his shoulder. Said hello to me with that lilt in his voice and I think he had a limped wrist. I was only about 17 and I was TRYING very hard not to laugh. I didn't want to be rude but he just seemed so stereotypical that I had a hard time not laughing.

Then came the '80s. I had joined the Air Force and this was LONG before Don't Ask, Don't Tell. This was when you could ask. You could be discharged for being gay. My supervisor was gay. We all knew it but she was a damn good supervisor and all of us in that office could care less. It wasn't any of our business. I remember one time, she had a rose delivered. I managed to get the delivery person to show me who sent it-it was another woman. I told him, That's who I thought it was from." Then she said it was from some guy. Sure. You are not fooling us.

Also at this time, I was very close to two guys-one of which I dated for a short period of time after I got out of the service. Come to find out, BOTH of them were/are gay.  :o :o :o

Also, in the '80s, the AIDS epidemic was in full force. At first it only hit the gay community so everyone thought that it was a "gay disease." In fact, it was called Gay-Related Immune Deficiency (GRID). Because they really didn't know anything about how it was spread, people used to think that you could catch AIDS from being close to a gay person. They didn't do anything about it because they thought that it would just wipe out the gay community and be done with it. (Read or see the movie "And The Band Played On.")  It wasn't until AIDS started getting into the hetero community that something was FINALLY done about it. It took a while for people to realize that you didn't have to be gay to get AIDS.

As for which was better, I really couldn't say because I am not gay and never had to deal with any of the problems that gays had to (and still have to) deal with.


Subject: Re: Was it better to be gay in the '70s than the '80s?

Written By: #Infinity on 03/10/19 at 9:18 pm

The 1970s were superior because the AIDS epidemic hadn't broken out yet, and therefore the homophobia of the era was less vicious. The second half of the '70s, however, was considerably warmer to gays than the first half, as it was only around the mid-70s that a considerable number of American states had their anti-sodomy laws repealed and disco caused gay culture to be more prominent. During the '80s, the level of support for gay rights barely progressed due to AIDS and Reaganism, while the other f-word became more common than ever.

Subject: Re: Was it better to be gay in the '70s than the '80s?

Written By: Dundee on 03/11/19 at 3:45 am

The 80s are the true nadir of the LGBT community I've always heard, especially in the UK due to Thatcher's politics, while the 70s were a celebration of differences with Disco being the peak of that, so this seems like a rather easy choice speaking for itself ???

Subject: Re: Was it better to be gay in the '70s than the '80s?

Written By: Howard on 03/11/19 at 5:40 am

Didn't the early 80's have the macho men era like the buff biker dudes?

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