In quotes

Harvey Fierstein has a problem with today’s LGBTQ youth

“I think [younger LGBTQ people] think that the big struggle was getting gay marriage passed. Young people growing up right now see Zachary Quinto or Neil Patrick Harris in major motion pictures or on television, and think it’s always been this good. I think they have no idea how we would be arrested in the streets, and kept from ever feeling normal. I grew up when people didn’t believe it when you told them Liberace was gay. Liberace!

Now there are museums, community centers and so many resources. There are plenty of books that didn’t exist before. Our history was just so sucked away from us and not allowed, and now we’re reclaiming that history. But remember, there were gays in Hitler’s army, and then all of a sudden you turn around and we’re in concentration camps. You cannot forget that. You need to know that that can happen at any moment.”—Harvey Fierstein, talking to The Hollywood Reporter 

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24 Comments

  • GeoffreyBridgman

    Headline seems a bit misleading.

  • JerseyMike

    The headline is misleading or comprehension is the editors thing.. I think minorities get lulled into a false sense of security because things are progressing.. As we can tell they are doing their damnedest to take away an rights that should be a given.. ALL minorities (that includes gay people) will have to always fight for their rights.. Anything that we have to fight for we will always have to fight for.. They will never give us anything without wanting to take it back.

  • natekerchel

    Don’t think he has a ‘problem’. He is simply reminding people that today’s gains were built on the struggles of the previous generations and that what we have attained can just as easily be taken away again. We can just look around and see the truth of that right now as the extreme right wing tries to roll back on our civil and human rights once again. That is why I cannot understand the people on here who claim to be gay and yet defend and promote the very people who would recriminalize us if they could. We need to constantly challenge and fight back if we are to retain, and build upon, our gains and, more importantly, our self respect.

  • DCguy

    Did somebody actually approve this headline for this story?

  • Kieran

    “Now there are museums, community centers and so many resources. There are plenty of books that didn’t exist before….” Yeah, in Manhattan.

    But what about all the gay kids who live in Kentucky, or Tennessee or Pennsylvania or….

    • dean089

      Haven’t you heard? Rural and working class gays don’t exist. We’re all affluent yuppies, solidly entrenched in urban centers. At least that’s what you’d think if you read any of the gay press.

    • scotshot

      There is this wonderful thing called the internet where the universe is at your fingertips.

      Museums, community centers, books in any library or bookstore around the globe (well pretty much so), TV shows, Movies, TED talks, speeches….Should I go on?… I will: Chatrooms and discussion sites that were never available until the last several years, You are connected in so many ways.

      If you’re unhappy being where you are, move, but I have many friends in rural areas who are very happy.

      It’s very, very boring listening to people complain when they can obviously make positive change.

    • Heywood Jablowme

      Okay, trolls – it took me less than 60 seconds of searching to find out there are gay community centers in Nashville, Louisville and Pittsburgh. (Philly being a given since I realize you mean the “Pennsyl-tucky” part of Pennsylvania.) I bet there are a few more than that in TN & KY as well.

      What you say about “gay kids” could apply just as well to gay kids in upstate New York, downstate Illinois, rural New England, inland California, etc. etc. Gay kids generally need to go to the big city, at least for awhile.

  • BigG

    U can’t get mad at our youth because they just didn’t through what we lived through. They are a totally different breed all invested in social media. I mean it’s wonderful that we have what we have now. I’m happy they avoided what we experienced.

  • Rusty66

    I had a problem with “gay youth” thirty years ago, in the early days of San Diego’s “Center For Social Service” … we didn’t dare call it “gay and lesbian” back in those days (1970s).

    Workers from the Center were SPAT upon when we set up voter registration tables outside San Diego’s biggest gay disco … and this was at the height of the campaign against the Briggs Initiative, which sought to bar gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools.

    Sad to say, a majority of young gay men were satisfied as long as they had their discos, their gold chains, their poppers, their coke, and their speed.

    We went into the baths and did AIDS safe-sex demos … nobody took us seriously.

    Rev. David Farrell, then-pastor of MCC/San Diego, was AFRAID of preaching against unsafe sex because he might offend some big donors who were well-known barebackers in the local baths and sex clubs.

    It wasn’t until “pillars” of MCC started dying that the church took a stand and got involved.

    We had another problem: The Unholy Trinity. Empress Nicole, Rev. David, and attorney Al Smithson RAN the San Diego gay community. The boards of directors were all interlocked with their candidates. Nobody was allowed to do ANYTHING without their approval. They were BITTERLY opposed to our founding a Gay Center because “there wasn’t enough money in the gay community to fund a gay center AND an MCC (!)”

    Don’t get me wrong … Nicole, David, and Al did a TREMENDOUS amount for San Diego’s gay community, but it was ALWAYS on THEIR terms, and there was ALWAYS some kind of price tag attached.

    From the micro to the macro: what percentage of GLBTQAI people are “out?” What percentage belong to and/or contribute to organizations which fight for us (like the ACLU)?

    My generation (those of us who survived the epidemic) is now passing away due to old age. Who will carry the torch for the next generation???

    • n900mixalot

      Who cares, they have Facebook and Grindr. Right?

      Oh, and by the way, the ACLU is just as full of **** as everyone else these days. They’re only after the causes that will get them on the front page, and only for the short term.

    • n900mixalot

      And by the way, you are a hero for all of your hard work. It takes an Internet connection to *say* a bunch of stuff about a situation, but it takes a human being to get out there and actually DO something about it. Your work is appreciated.

    • Hussain-TheCanadian

      What you wrote makes me count my blessings Rusty, thank you so much for your struggle and activism.

    • Bob LaBlah

      I sympathize with you. I could not believe that Queerty did not run ONE article during the debate over Trump’s healthcare bill. Not one. You would think by now that regardless of what ethnic group online gay sites such as this target they would all realize that certain things such as healthcare, housing and employment take top priority over abs, buns and b/s about gay dating sites and what “hot” celebrity no body or old has been is in the “news” trying to get noticed. Its a sign of the times.

      I am almost sixty now and I don’t recognize these kids. They live five to six people in apartments meant for one because they don’t make enough to pay the rent but the majority of them will not take part in demonstrations aimed at bringing stagnant wages to the forefront. Their I-phones, gym memberships, Facebook and Myspace pages and gay dating apps are their priorities. Many of them walk around in jeans because they don’t have money to buy themselves clothes. But they do have a drawer full of Andrew Christian undies. Sad but so true.

    • scotshot

      Let’s all have a pity party on this thread.

      Every day you get up and do what’s important to you, too sit and complain that others aren’t appreciating your hard work is just…..pitiful.

      What you do has an effect, even if you don’t see it. That’s why you do it. Good works are never a waste of time.

    • Brian

      Bob, I don’t think MySpace pages are a big priority among today’s gays.

  • Daniel-Reader

    Wise to warn about how quickly things can change. It also helps to realize that works both ways. Those facing ongoing human rights abuses can also irrevocably change the planet to end such abuses one way or another. All the human rights violators on Earth fail to realize how easily their own become unsecure when they violate the human rights of millions of people.

  • notcisjustmale

    LGBTQ youth? There is no such thing. Maybe it is BTQ youth. Lesbian and gay are persona non grata in what used to be their community. It is all trans-queer youth. If you’re not a trans muslim sex worker nobody wants any thing to do with you. Well, they do want your money.

    • mujerado

      Right now, the people in the LGBT community who need the most help and the most acitivism to win their equality are those exact trans kids. That doesn’t make lesbian or gay kids personae non grata. It makes them the ones who’ve already achieved a greater level of equality. But if some of us are disadvantaged, we all are. Don’t fall into the homophobes’ trap of pitting one segment of our community against the other(s). Your last two sentences are just ugly.

  • J.T.

    Lousy, deceptive headline. Youths generally tend to be ahistorical, so gay youths are no different. Firestein doesn’t have a “problem” as much as an understanding that gay culture needs to be transmitted historically. This is a task in which the entire community needs to be engaged.

  • Chris

    I’m Fierstein’s age if not older; and, the older I get, the more I hope that the world evolves to that point where what I went through is forgotten — except as an historical curiosity — because people grow up without experiencing the things that I went through. So I’m not as upset as so many of my peers are that “kids today” have no sense of our struggles. Wasn’t that their purpose in the first place?

    • SonOfKings

      Until we have a few centuries of full equality under our belts, I don’t think we can afford to let what we went through to be forgotten, or allow gay youth to be oblivious to their history. Whenever some clueless twenty-something starts chirping about how we don’t need gay clubs, gay rights, or even gay identities any longer because we have already “overcome,” I make sure to give them an earful of wisdom to counter that nonsense.

  • Wilberforce

    Gay youth are not the problem. It’s mainstream gay culture, filled with self hatred and internalized homophobia, allowing hiv to spread after thirty-five years, obsessed with looks and muscles instead of brains and kindness and character. I gave up on this community years ago. They haven’t changed in thirty years and probably won’t for another thirty.

  • He BGB

    Tell our stories. When I moved to Atlanta the Red Dog Unit (since disbanded after the Eagle patrons sued the city and won) raided the bar, putting the patrons face down, spitting on them and calling them names. This was just 8 years ago. Then there’s the terrorist act in Orlando. We should never forget these acts of hatred. Inequality, homophobia. Put more of our stories in the gay rags instead of boys in speedos, botox. They’re cute too, but beauty fades but our rights need to be propped up even more. Now more than ever when we have a dictator who is trying to make us invisible again.

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