Thursday, July 29, 2010

Generation Utopia

Reading aroung the blogs this morning while taking my nephew to a doctors appointment I came accross a Pam's House Blend post that gave me food for thought. The post itself covered the fact that only 10% of troops have responded to the survey meant to query their opinions about a repeal...and just what conclusions can we draw about such a low turn in rate. However the part that really made me stop and think was a comment included in the post made by the daughter of Iowa State Senator Mike Gronstal in which she expressed frustration with her fathers generation and their resistance to gay marriage. Its a comment that shocked her father changed his viewpoint on the issue entirely. The magic words were...

"You guys don't understand. You've already lost. My generation doesn't care."

Now I don't think that this girl speaks for the entirety of her generation...but...Following her comment into a line of thought, one paints a mental picture of a day when it doesnt matter what your sexual orientation is because for this young lady's generation...its a non issue. But is it?...

The very first thing that pops into my mind when I read her comment was an image of a future where gay men, women, trans folk... can walk down the street in any town and hold hands without worry of violence. A world were gays are just another part of of the fabric of everyday humanity. a few young people have a expressed...a world where people don't even think of themselves in terms of gay or straight anymore...a thought that I confess scares me just a bit...but..Overall it sounds like a wonderfull future where people are free to express their love with out fear of violence or legal sanction.

All of this puts me in mind of another time when a generation of young people dreamed of Utopia. Hippies, Flower Children, free love, freedom from autoritarian powers, communes...a dream where individuals lived their lives according to the dictates of their hearts rather than the expectations of society or tradition....this was my fathers generation. It was the age of Aquarius was all gonna change..

Songs like this one and "Love The One Your With" defined a young generations attitudes toward sex and society. father was not a hippie...when I was growing up, he never had good things to say about anyone who practiced "free love". He was himself raised rather conservatively and when the time came when he could he went to the navy...and Vietnam. However, no matter what political side of the fence you lived on...the 60's left its mark...and the stories he tells of those times...even the stories he WON'T tell me bear that out. No one lived that decade and came out unchanged by its upheaval. It was a world undergoing monumental change on almost every front...there was war, changing attitudes to sex and gender roles, and an utter rejection of the social mores of the older generations...just to name a few of the birth pangs of the 60's and they sound like a close description of today.

As a child of those who directly experienced that decade, its interesting to see how that generations ideals played itself out as it became the generation in power and became the ones who held the reigns of money and government. When I think about the stories, documentaries, and the history that I know about the 60's  and the much mellower people who I see today...there is a disconnect of ideals and action. After all, we don't all live in communes today. There are no more "love ins". We don't live in free love society that eschews war at all costs. We still very much have tradtional families, societal expectation, war, corporate greed, and governmental abuse of power. As they aged, many flower children blended back into society...a few still tenaciously hanging onto their ideals, even today...others consigning those dreams to the days of their youth.

So what of comments like the ones from the Senators daughter that her generation doesn't care about sexuality. Will that bare out over time when they get older and it gets harder...and more important, to live your ideals and as life begins to impose its realities upon them? Will many simply fade back into the whitenoise of "the way its always been" and become a slightly more tolerant version of their parents?

Thinking further on it...I know that even though the flower children of the 60's may have become wild roses, the world is a much different place for having experienced that time...and its lagacy still live in the hearts and minds of many. While we don't live in a post-racial society...yet...neither do we live with the degree of open prejudice and injustice present in my fathers day. While we don't live in a post-sexism society...women live vastly different lives then they did just a generation ago. The 60's really changged how we thought about ourselves and how we fit into the world in which we find ourselves and even though the dream of Utopia did not litterally come to pass....many things are still changed forever because it was dreamed.

Likewise, we do not live in a post sexuality society. I doesn't matter whether you kissed a girl tonight...or even if you liked it. It doesn't matter if your not yourself tonight or if your looking for a little bad know...

It also may not be Utopia as we understand it...But mayby the values and ideals of the coming generations will unlock the dam of fear and prejudice directed at gay and lesbian people...even if we never reach a day when people don't label themselves with a sexuality. Perhaps the world will be impacted significantly enough just from having dreamed that it was possible to be free of the fear and prejudice associated with them.

Every generation steps a little further forward than the last. mine..may only baby step, others leap ahead. And, if the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, its a little humbling to realize that your whole life is only one step on that greater journey. In the end, it may not matter that we fall short of reaching that Idyllic state of Utopia...but that you believe in its possibility and keep reaching so that one day, someone can carry your torch through its gates.

Until then dear readers...a little something from the year I was born...I'll see you there...


  1. Great post, Bryan. It's filled with the kind of deep thoughtful reflections that I've come to love from your writing.

    The Flower Generation left its legacy in ways that nobody foresaw, and we are still on the journey of liberation that they started. Our life may be only a step in the journey of a thousand miles, but it is the result of many steps of earlier generations, not only that of the Flower Children, but also the Pioneers, and others. What we leave behind will be just one step closer to Utopia for those who come after us. As President Obama said, for a more perfect Union.

    Other countries, in Europe and Canada, already went ahead on that journey. There are places in the world where it is already possible for sexuality to be a non-issue. Gay men and women can be leaders of their community without their sexuality becoming headline news.

    Thanks for sharing your journey, and the music videos.

  2. Great post. Collectively we know where we are going, but individually we have no idea... like ants. Just keep working, basically... like the lyrics in that Sounds from the Ground song "Lean on me."

    I. Freakin. Love. You. for posting Bad Romance <3 :P


    That woman has changed my life so much it's not even funny. She brought me to my bf and out of the closet pretty much. I love her and everything she stands for.

    (waits for judgment)

    I don't agree w/ that girl's statement though, @least in GA a percentage of young people def still do care. Alright, ending comment...

  3. 1972? You're just a babe!
    Your Friend, m.

  4. I had to laugh when I saw the GaGa vid. She is a cultural whirlwind, and I love her. That's kind of funny, since I don't really do anything 'gay'. I dunno about other's but I'd love to live in a post-racial, post-sexist, post-sexuality world. I think labels are limiting and destructive, and only encourage stereotypes.

    I really don't think it's a good idea to from labels, identities, and even pseudo-ethnicities from the mere fact of sexuality. Again, I think it limits rather than liberates. Why can't we just be fellow humans?


  5. The big difference this time is that we have the internet. People are sharing ideas instantaneously - no political borders. The biggest shift in advancement prior was the printing press. Sharing knowledge and ideas pushed the industrial revolution.
    But now..WOW!!! Your blog is a perfect example!! People from all over the world are reading and sharing thoughts on a blog written but a normal regular guy who just happens to be gay and have a family. This was not even possible 15 years ago!
    Let's sit back and watch the show.... :)

  6. I like your comparison, Jim. It has been said that the printing press was the cause for the political changes that led to the modern era. It may be that history will point to the World Wide Web as the cause for the new future...without borders, without labels. Gutenberg and Berners-Lee.

  7. Thanks Cowboy..but back then the newspapers were owned by rich people who had an agenda. The masses only saw what those people wanted them to see. Now..ANYONE can start a blog on the net. The Huffington Post gets millions of hits a day and they tell stories you NEVER see on the mainstream media. I REALLY like having gay news sites as well. My FAVE is!! He is HYSTERICAL!!!!

  8. I believe & hope my generation can really live up to that. I feel like we owe it to all those who've had to live in fear & oppression in the past, and to all those who aren't yet born to make the world a better place for them. Meanwhile, people like you are continually helping people from different generations to bring that utopia closer.

  9. Re the generational differences I'm reminded of a comment by of the Modern Family character Jay Ptitchett about his father. "he died doing what he loved best, denying service to a hippie". Hopefully the Senators daughter is a good example. Peace and Love, Bob

  10. Wonderful post Brian!

    I remember those words from the aftermath of Iowa's marriage equality win as if it was yesterday - it was so potent coming from the Senator's mouth, and his entire speech was excellent.

    I've heard of a theory that society goes through a general cycle that can span many decades, and maybe we are arriving at the same point in the grand cycle as the poignant 1960's.

  11. The discussion on media is interesting and probably can go on for a long time. The nature of the press, the printing press, and the Web can take up a seminar.

    By the time the rich bought up the media, i.e. newspapers, networks, etc, the technology has already matured. The revolution started way earlier, in the nascent days when anyone with a printing press can turn out pages and pages of seminal ideas, like Voltaire, Thomas Paine, Ben Franklin, and initiated social changes that destroyed the old order. When the rich captured these channels, the common masses found other ways, such as the Web. Huffington Post is already on the road to being captured by the power elite. True revolutionary thinking comes from the least likely Gay Family Values.

    The road is long...measured in generations and centuries, but the journey is worth every step.