Recently, the LGBT blog Queerty posted a link to an interview in the Village Voice. The title of the Queerty blog post caught my attention: "Young Gay Tells Michael Musto: 'There's Almost Too Much Pride.'" This story was written in the middle of Pride festivities. Why would this young gay man try to bring us all down during Pride? Doesn't he get what the LGBT community has collectively been up against? The comments on the article seem to agree. They call the young man, Jason Wise, a 22-year-old Broadway performer, some fairly harsh names.
But when you click through and read the interview, it contextually means something very different from the headline. In the interview, Wise expresses worry that some younger gay men today do not realize how much previous generations have fought. He sees complacency among his peers. He points to several issues, including apathy about the threat of HIV, to illustrate his fear that some people celebrate Pride but don't understand why it is so important.
Unlike what the Queerty headline implies, Wise never says that people should not have pride. And though he may not have used the best phrasing for his idea, Wise illuminates an important question: What happens when younger generations don't fully comprehend what previous generations have sacrificed and suffered?
Adversity exists for the LGBT community, without a doubt. Systemic oppression exists for many minority groups. And as evidence, we've seen a recent rash of bullying against LGBT students in schools. But many have not experienced their own Stonewall-esque systemic and societally supported persecution, and some do not even know that Stonewall was the trigger for the gay-rights movement, much less the other pivotal moments in the LGBT-equality movement. It is a great testament to the activists who have gone before us that we have made as many gains, but with all anti-discrimination movements, it might be too easy for the current generation to lose sight of how things today came to be. In the case of Pride celebrations, some seem to be celebrating without understanding why.
Is there an answer to this trend? I don't know. But it's an issue that Wise and others have noticed and rightfully are attempting to highlight. It is disturbing that Queerty seemingly presented the interview with a clunky headline in order to seize on an opportunity for sensationalism (Fox-News style), and Queerty needs to do some serious follow-up. It should not be party to shaming a young gay activist for proposing an examination of an important issue.