How We Got Gay (2013) - full transcript

How We Got Gay tells the incredible story of how gay men and women went from being the ultimate outsiders to occupying the halls of power, with a profound influence on our cultural, political and social lives.

It's hard to imagine now

but not long ago,
homosexuality was something

to be hidden at all costs.

I now pronounce you

spouses for life.

50 years ago, homosexual acts

were illegal in every province in Canada

and every state in America.

To be a homosexual was to live in exile

from mainstream society.

Society looked at homosexuals not just

as a subculture who are
engaging in illicit sex

and possibly prostitution, they were also

a community of people who were sick

and deviant.

I like them in the closet.

We should shoot a few of
these people or hang them.

And for the brave few who declared

their homosexuality, it
was a life in the shadows.

The price for being openly gay was that

you were poor and you had shit jobs

like being a waiter.

And a lot of people
devoted their entire lives

to being gay at a terrible cost.

Most chose to hide.

They sought to move like ghosts through

the straight world, invisible to all.

It was called passing.

It's very difficult to remember

the complete and utter
invisibility of gay people

at that time.

Not only did people not really believe that

there were gay lawyers and professionals,

and middle class people
and people in the suburbs,

it was unfathomable.

People didn't believe
that gay people existed.

When I worked for Time
Magazine in the 60's,

being human I wanted to talk somewhat

about my personal life to my colleagues

and friends but it all had to be straight

so instead of talking about
Bill, a six foot two blonde,

I had to talk about Nancy,
a five foot one blonde.

And then you had to remember your lies.

It was hell to live
through and you felt always

so duplicitous because you couldn't really

be intimate with your straight friends

because you were lying to all them

and you knew if they
discovered the terrible truth,

a, you would be fired from your job,

and b, you would lose all your friends.

When I got out of the Navy, I went

with a couple guys and we used the same

two lesbians as girlfriends

which you think someone
would have picked up on.

I always went with Betty and whoever

I happened to be going
with went with Pauline.

It was always a case of showing up

with someone of the other sex.

I married when I was 19,
right out of high school.

And it was a very rocky
time because deep down

inside, I knew that I was gay

but I had fought it so many years

and hidden it so many years, I just figured

I could go on through life doing that.

The price of marriage

was the cultivation of a secret life.

I can remember being married

and Sunday night after
church, I would go by

this drug store and he
had muscle men magazines

underneath the counter
and you'd have to ask

to see them.

That was the only magazines
or anything we had

to look at.

I was too embarassed to buy them,

so I would make my
girlfriend I was living with

buy them for me.

So she would go and say, "I'll take the

"Grecian Guild, please."

And they all had the alibi of being

about ancient Greece or
about weight lifting.

For most men in the closet,

sex was furtive, anonymous, and often

in public places.

All we could do was go out to the bars,

or else go to the park.

We would go and park our cars

and walk out into the woods and meet

different people and have sex there.

And then you go on with your life.

That's how we lived.

We lived closeted.

It was a dangerous life.

And police harassment
and the risk of arrest

were an ever present threat.

Getting caught meant personal ruin

and humiliation.

For a long, long time, the police

had been involved with a process

of trying to supress, marginalize,

and clean up the subcultures that they saw

as illegitimate and the
police were ruthless.

The major problem with homosexuals

is the places of congregation to commit

their sex acts in public places

where they walk the streets hoping

to make a pickup.

They had vice working the park.

They'd go up there in cut offs,

as sexy as they could be and then

when you put a make on
them, they'd arrest ya.

They'd up come sometime in a bus

and arrest enough people
to almost fill the bus.

People had it hidden deep inside them

and were very guilt ridden about it.

If you were closeted and you were married,

you didn't have any place to go.

Most hotels would not rent to men

and if you did, you might
very well had the police

bang through the door.

People went into public washrooms,

and into parks, and that
would be the first place

they could kiss another man.

The lack of understanding

and acceptance leads to the creation

of a lurid set of myths about homosexuals.

The medical profession and the psychiatric

profession are very
much part of this story.

Homosexuality was not just criminalized,

it was medicalized.

You grew up with a lot
of shame, a lot of denial,

sometimes actually
listening to what you read

in the medical books which was that

being gay was a disability or a condition.

I really would pray that it would just

go away.

I prayed that I would just magically

have a girlfriend and I would wake up

every day and it was still there.

Many of them would undergo

this behavioral reconditioning

which was you would bring pornography

that turned you on and
then they would project it

and then shock you or induce vomiting.

It's hard to underestimate
how dire things were.

Most parents were doing it for the good

of the child, they knew that if the son

became homosexual, he was condemned

to live a very difficult and unhappy life.

The parents would take their son

to a physician who had been educated

in the medical school where homosexuality

was considered a disease.

If he thought it was a serious problem,

then he'd recommend treatment.

You would go through a year or more

of electric shock before
you finally decided

that you really ought to
find women interesting.

I went to a shrink for 20
years trying to get straight.

I was engaged twice.

The ideal was to have the trap door

beside the bed to get rid of the evidence

that you were gay so
that you could start off

with a clean slate.

Maybe today I'll go straight.

But a few pioneers start

to push the idea that
homosexuals have nothing

to be ashamed of.

It's part of the spirit of the times

as one minority group after another demands

to be heard.

In 1965, the first gay protest
in North American history


In order to present
homosexuals as respectable

and employable, male participants

are required to wear ties,

preferably with a jacket.

And women are told to wear skirts.

In 1969, Canada moves to the foreground

of the new social revolution
when it decriminalizes

same sex intimacy in the
privacy of one's home.

There's no place for
the state in the bedrooms

of the nation and I think that what's done

in private between adults doesn't concern

a criminal court.

In the US, the battle over homosexual

rights erupts on a June evening in 1969

at a tavern called The Stonewall.

As an angry mob of drag queens,

mixed race, black, and young people

fight back against a police raid.

Those individuals were
largely on the outskirts

of society.

They were gender non-conformist,

There were drag queens there.

There were a number of individuals

that don't necesarrily
fit within the mainstream.

There were lots of what we call A trainers,

that is, people who came on the A train

from Harlem.

People had nothing left to lose.

These guys had been fighting the police

all their lives and now they were doing it

as gays but they had done
it as oppressed minorities

before anyway.

I think it was in the air.

We weren't going to take it any more.

We were going to fight back this time.

With Stonewall, gays experienced

the power that could come from standing up

for themselves.

With the new consciousness,
comes a new idea.

The secret to happiness
was to admit to being

homosexual, to come out.

As the 70's started happening,

you actually for the
first time started having

an actual human being who would get up

and actually say, "I am a homosexual."

A thousand gay liberationists

demonstrate in New York,
urging the city council

to pass a homosexual rights bill.

What do homosexuals do?

We eat, we sleep, we watch television.

That's what we do.

We do what human beings do.

I've never come out on anything

like television and
said, "I am a lesbian."

And it's a very frightening thing to do.

Word of Stonewall drifts back to Canada

where gays are increasingly
feeling inspired

by the battle to the south.

The first gay pride march
in Canada takes place

on a cold, wet August morning in 1971.

It's organized by an American draft dodger

living in Toronto.

All we want to do is love persons

of the same sex and live
our lives as we decide.

Gay power!

A generation gap starts to emerge

between the gays who
came of age in an earlier

time and those growing up in the 1960's.

Fearing the consequences, the vast majority

choose to stay in the closet.

They were going around saying things like,

"Gay is good," which was an
echo, "Black is beautiful."

The idea of having a gay magazine

or a gay organization, we would say,

"Well, we're criminals,
should safe crackers

"have their own magazine?
This is ridiculous."

It wasn't like Stonewall happened and then

the next day everyone came out

and everything was beautiful.

Everybody had their own individual journeys

that they had to struggle with.

There were no role models.

There was no history showing the 10 people

that I know who went
through this and boy did

their lives turn out great.

The word on the street were the people

who had been arrested and lost everything.

The people who had been
thrown out of the military,

the people who had lost their jobs,

and the fears were real.

But for those who were out,

the dream of having a
life like other people

starts to grow.

With this ring

With this ring

I give thee my promise

I give thee my promise

With my heart I will love thee,

With my heart I will love thee,

With my body I will worship thee,

With my body I will worship thee,

You may kiss.

The continuing lack of acceptance

in mainstream society meant gay life

could only flourish in
so called gay ghettos.

It was this definite feeling of freedom

in these little protected ghettos

that we created, that Stonewall allowed.

And instead of living a
life of hookups in a park

or bars where you risked arrest,

you could celebrate en
masse with large numbers

of men and feel a sense of community

and to feel that freedom
was just extraordinary.

But slowly outside the ghetto walls,

a few key allies started to emerge,

including the parents of some gay children.

When you had anybody who was outside

support you, it was really profound.

So when you actually had a parent?

Who actually would say good things

about his or her son or daughter?

Like, oh my God, you know.

I can tell you people just hugged them

and loved them, partly because they knew

their parent didn't react that way.

But the enemies of gay freedom

remain committed to keeping
homosexuals in check.

You started seeing a lot more visibility.

At the same time, there was an uppityness

of the community and the
police really realized

that if we don't actually do something now,

this is going to get
completely out of hand.

In the winter of 1981,

police in Toronto execute
a massive crackdown

on the gay bathhouses.

This was the largest police operation

that had happened against
the lesbian and gay

community and it was, in fact, the largest

mass arrest in Canadian history.

Second only to the war measures act.

He says, "You're all being charged

"for being in a body house."

I was flabbergasted.

I still had no idea what
he was talking about.

The police went whole hog, decided to do it

all on one night, arrest
as many people as possible.

Let's drag them in, let's
really teach them a lesson.

You were in a room and you just started

hearing commotion.

You didn't know what was going on

and then a cop would
come and smash the door

and would drag you in and put you in.

And if you were naked, so be it.

The people in the shower would be grabbed

out of the shower room.

It happened February 5th, on the morning

of February 6th, we decided to actually

have a demonstration that very night.

Two, four, six, eight, police state.

You had all these people
contact their friends,

that contacted their friends so it actually

spread very, very fast.

It really was on an order that
had never been thought of.

The lesbian and gay demonstration which was

far more angry and far more aggressive

than the police ever thought
they had on their hands.

They were completely thrown back

by the reaction.

You could see that they
were not at all prepared

for this angry mob.

They still couldn't believe
it was in front of their eyes.

Somebody said to me, "Police have raided

"the bathhouses," and I said, "What have

"they got against cleanliness?"

The police knew nothing at all

about the gay male community.

They actually thought there were only

three or four hundred gay men

in Toronto and they would all pack up

and move to Vancouver as
a result of the raids.


The bathhouse raids happened in one night

but the politics of the bathhouse raids

were at least a couple years.

We had 308 men who had to go through

the legal system so we went and tracked

each of those cases.

We had fundraising that had to be done.

Those are political and social skills

that build up a community.

We went through what could have taken us

20 years in 2 years.

But within a year of the raids,

a much bigger crisis has
emerged on the horizon.

It represents not just
a threat to gay freedom

but to gay life itself.

What do you think it is
about the gay lifestyle

that turns off so many straights?

Well, probably that we have so much style

and so much fun, that
we have more interesting

jobs than they do.

That we generally know how to live better.

That's probably what it is.

By the late 1970's, gays

were experiencing unprecendented freedom.

It was actually fabulous
to be gay in New York

at that time.

We weren't thinking of marriage,

getting rid of don't ask, don't tell,

of getting into the Boy Scouts.

Those things weren't even issues.

Between 69 and 81, it was the only period

in human history when everybody,

straight or gay, was free
to do what they wanted to

sexually because there was birth control,

there were antibiotics and
religion was on the wain.

That was the golden age of promiscuity,

both for straights and gays.

But in 1981, an enormous

tragedy hits the gay community as a rare

and deadly form of cancer shows up in 41

homosexual men in New
York and San Francisco.

Word of the outbreak
spreads rapidly through

the gay community.

People didn't know what caused AIDs,

they thought maybe it had something to do

with sex but maybe it had something to do

with hepatitis.

There were all these crazy theories.

And since gay liberation
was sexual liberation

for us, the idea of giving up sex was just

so amazing.

Anyway, we were young men, we weren't

going to stop having sex.

We had the doctors
saying, "You need to stop

"having sex," and the sexual liberationists

which were most gay activists were like,

"You don't know that," and there was

doubting of the science.

It was a whole threat to what we had built

up to that point and what the gay rights

movement had focused on up until that point

which was sexual liberation.

You would see men in their 20's and 30's

walking along with canes.

And the pages of the BAR
would have obituaries

every week.

It was a dark time in
San Francisco history.

Over 10,000 people in this zip code alone

died from AIDs.

I remember finding it easy to find rentals

for an apartment because there were gay men

who had died and didn't have family.

This is a 1980 Christmas party.

Everybody but myself has died of AIDs.

Everybody seemed to have been infected

before they found out and then it was

just a little too late
to do much of anything.

Through the 80's, mostly you were always

taking people to the hospitals

or going to funerals, something.

Sad, sad time.

Lots of gay men got sick and once you were

sick you were probably out because

if you were recognizable as a person

with AIDs, people were going to think

you were gay whether you were gay or not.

We didn't realize until we were forced

out of the closet how hated we were.

We created all these little cocoons

for each other so we didn't
have to feel that hate

or know how that hate could play out.

And so AIDs taught us that.

AIDs taught us how much America hated us.

It's hard to remember now because it was

so insane and barbaric but there were calls

for quarantine, tattooing
people who had HIV.

As a society, we stalled
and stalled and stalled

and enormous amounts of deaths took place

but also the epidemic
became enormously more


70% of the country's AIDs victims

are homosexual and in cities throughout

the country gays have
become increasingly alarmed.

But now they are also
concerned about another

kind of epidemic, an
epidemic of fear that is

spreading faster than the disease itself.

As you walk down the street, you can

feel people pointing at you.

Saying, "He's one who has it."

I lost my job.

I lost my housing.

I lost friends.

I lost my own individuality.

As the number of deaths climbs,

the gay community becomes increasingly

angry at a government
that is dragging its feet

and a society that seems
indifferent to the crisis.

As the years go by, people are just getting

more and more fed up and
they just want it to end.

Here we were, six years into the crisis,

thousands of us had been
diagnosed with AIDs,

and thousands have died and our president

hadn't even said the word?

Let's stay together, let's stay united!

Our mayor was ignoring it.

Our government wasn't spending anything

on AIDs research.

In 1986, a new kind of gay rights

organization was born.

It was a very strong movement from day one.

The first meetings had
over 100 people in them.

That's big.

We grew very fast and from the getgo,

we made national press.

We're wearing all black.

Our posters are tombstones.

I started coming here
right after the very first

act of demonstration which happened

right outside where I worked.

I found boyfriends here.

I found friends for life.

And I lost a lot of people here.

I remember it filled with people,

sweaty, fired up and angry, and sexy,

and ready for and loving each other

and loving what we were doing.

You said, "Come back in a year,"

time's up, Mario, we're here!

We were singularly focused on HIV-AIDs

from 87 to 93.

That's all we talked
about and it's all we used

to build the gay rights movement.

Joseph Campbell, Alex Zicarti,

Fred Jones, Lewis Engle.

As the years go by and the death toll

climbs ever higher, the
AIDs crisis utterly consumes

the movement for gay equality.

It took awhile for people to move beyond

the confusion and the questions to reach

a point where there was
this kind of collective

understanding within the movement that this

was a catastrophic situation.

This became what defined us.

It was just a nightmare.

It was just an absolute nightmare.

People didn't know what to do.

Everybody was just trying
to save people's lives.

If you stayed quiet,
if you were complacent,

if you wanted to just
go to cocktail parties

and never discuss it
because it was too painful

to discuss that everybody
was going to end up dead.

No walking out!

And AIDs also transforms

the way the world sees gay men.

America had never seen
an angry gay community,

willing to go in front of the cameras,

laying down in the streets,

demanding to be heard and
in a sympathetic role.

And even if they were
uncomfortable with the idea

of homosexuality, it hurt
the country to know that

some of its citizens were
dying and the country

was doing nothing.

That troubled them.

The rise of Act Up transforms

the way that gay men see themselves.

Act Up really made me nervous.

I'm 20 something years old.

I'm coming out.

I'm in the middle of this AIDs epidemic

and, yes, it's not good but
we're pissing off people?

No more red tape, no more red tape!

Act Up shut down the opera
house on opening night.

It made headlines all over the place.

Oh, you're making people
angry that can help us.

And then as I got older,
and especially now,

I realize that Act Up saved people's lives.

We've never gotten a government official

to start liking homosexuals

but we have shamed them
into doing what we want.

Our friends were dying.

Our family members were dying.

In order to move pharmaceutical companies

and policy makers off
a comfortable position,

they made individual's lives uncomfortable.

You have no right to
interupt this symposium.

You will not learn
anything about combination

anti-retroviral therapy.

There are doctors in
this audience with AIDs

who don't want to be interupted by you.

And that's all there is to it!

No more words, we want action!

What may have looked
a little bit like chaos

on the outside, there
was a strategic center

that was rather brilliant.

People don't see us.

People don't see the
enormity of the disease

and the human cost of the
disease so strategically

what we're doing is we're
making people look at us.

The AIDs epidemic illustrated just how far

we needed to go to right
the injustices that were

a part of the LGBT
experience in this country.

If you thought you knew
what it mean to be brave,

and then you watched a
guy like Peter Staley

and then you say, "Oh, okay,
now I know what it means

"to be brave."

The whole world is watching!

In the crucible of AIDs,

the modern gay right movement is born.

I do not think that we would have same sex

marriage if we hadn't, unfortunately, lost

tens of thousands of people in this country

and millions worldwide to AIDs.

AIDs was the biggest coming out event

in world history.

Over the course of its history,

Act Up evolves from an
activist group to a group

intimately involved in
drug research and testing.

In 1996, its efforts pay off with the first

class of drugs that start to save lives.

It became this modern
patient advocacy movement

where you self-educate
and become the experts.

Can we all, before it's too late, begin

to understand each other?

Will we realize...

We lowered the death rates by 80%.

Going from zero where the government

wasn't doing anything
to having a two billion

dollar NIH research
budget, all pushing towards

those treatments and ultimately brought

those drugs to eight million people.

We just completely
shattered their impression

of who we are as a people,

what we're capable of, how we were

taking care of each other,

how we weren't limp wristed and weak

and quietly going to go off
into the corner and die.

We found our voice.

We found our power and it was because

AIDs forced us out of the closet.

As of December 31st, 2000,

almost half a million people had died

in North America.

Those who have been
fighting on the front lines

are exhausted.

Many of the movement leaders are dead.

And as the crisis ebbs and men who are sick

start to get better,
the leaders of the AIDs

activist movement drift away.

After all that fighting against AIDs,

and all the loss we had gone through

and all the memorials we had attended,

we just all went running for the doors.

And we walked away.

None of the AIDs activists will play

a major role in the battles to come.

In their wake comes a new kind of movement,

with a new set of goals.

History will recall,

Reagan and Bush did nothing at all.

Of all the legacies of the AIDs epidemic,

one of the biggest was that it taught gays

how to fight back.

We were not going to be
ushered back into a closet.

So many of our friends, so
many of our family members

had died that we owed
it to them to live life

out, as proud members of American society.

And the experience of dealing

with unresponsive government

and an indifferent society
convinced the movement

that the next fight had
to be for full equality.

It left us with a sense of how daunting

the work was going to be,

how elected officials in
particular could simply

ignore us when our lives were at stake.

When I think of where we are today

as a strategic, smart, determined movement,

it really formed a lot of the ways in which

we've gone about doing anything that we've

set out to do ever since.

The first part is the generational question

of who lived and who died.

You did have for a long period of time,

10 to 15 years, nobody having hope

that they could survive
once they had the virus.

But that built a political
movement as well.

You had a number of organizations created

during that time who realized that this

was an opportunity, there
was political strength

there and that people were ready to start

using their political voice.

With the dawn of a new millenium,

the movement for marriage equality gains

momentum in both Canada
and the United States.

The goal is fair and equal
treatment under the law

and the right to access tax
benefits and spousal rights

previously available only to heterosexuals.

In 2003, in a landmark decision that makes

headlines around the world, the Canadian

government announces
the right of gay people

to marry is to become the law of the land.

And the world's first legal gay marriage

is a ceremony like no other.

We were picked up that morning

in an unmarked vehicle.

We were driven in a circuitous
route to the church.

There were protesters with devil masks.

They had a coffin with a knife through it,

saying this was the death of marriage

and the death of family.

We had been told by security people

the moment we sign the wedding documents,

that's the time that they're
going to try to prevent

you from signing.

And if we hear a shot, don't
move somebody will move you.

Duly married in the eyes
of God and in accordance

with the laws of our land.


As gay marriage galvanizes

the movement, it garners
a great deal of attention

in the straight world.

The religious right,
hellbent on stopping it,

doubles down.

I kept watching the gay marriage debate

saying, "That's going to be a tough one.

"They don't want us to win on that one."

But this time the resources

and the level of sophistication
that the movement

brings to the fight are unprecedented.

Now, across our country,

we are standing together for the right

of gay and lesbian Americans to marry

the person they love.

The process perhaps is no different

than the way that Kellogg's
goes about selling

cereal to consumers.

It's based upon market
research which involves

polling and focus groups and all of that

is massaged into an eventual narrative.

Gay and lesbian couples should have

every right to experience
the joys of marriage

and family that we do.

Marriage is an institution of equality

that pulls an awful lot
of other issues with it.

It is a central institution
to our way of life.

We grew up with parents.

We understand that marriage is about love,

committment and family.

It's an easy way to explain
what equality is like.

With marriage as the standard

bearer, the movement pushes for acceptance

in one bastion of heterosexual
power after another.

Society is going to fight hardest to keep

things that it wants for
itself and that it doesn't

want you to have so I have spent the bulk

of my career trying to get gay people

into the Boy Scouts, the
military, and marriage.

I have never been in the Boy Scouts.

I have never been in the military.

I have never been married

and I have never particularly wanted

to do any of those things.

But, if we don't have the option, then

we're always going to be
second class citizens.

When I first came out, I was disappointed

that I wouldn't have that
sort of wife and kids

family and I think it
took a couple of years.

Probably college, right
about when I met Duncan,

that it clicked for me that I
could have a husband and kids.

If you're willing to accept equality,

for gay people to get married,

you really can't stop short of
what that cultural story is.

That usually evolves
into a deeper comittment.

The schoolyard song, "First comes love,

"then comes marriage," what's next?

"Then comes the baby in
the baby carriage," right?

In some cases it's not a
baby, it's an older kid

and it's foster or adoption but that's

the natural progression.

With the rise of the new messaging

around marriage equality,
mainstream attitudes

toward homosexuality start
to shift dramatically.

We are very much part of your community.

We are people of color, we are men,

we are women, we are trans,

we are tall, we are short, we are doctors,

we are lawyers, we are your neighbors.

What this rise in acceptance

means is that the options for gay people

have never been more plentiful.

Nobody's telling them
how to live their life.

Nobody's telling them who they can be.

Their future is theirs.

They can see themself.

They know they can be who they are.

When I first came out, I always assumed

that if I found somebody
I loved that I would

be able to marry them.

When the day did come that we were able

to get married legally, and
share life with somebody

of the same sex, obviously
I was extremely happy.

Around 2003, I could see
that there was progress

happening and people
who were gay could lead

a life with a partner and have a family

and not sort of have to
give all that up to be gay.

It's the first time where
I've ever really pictured

a life with someone and it's good.

And with the increasing integration

into heterosexual culture, some are asking,

"What does it even mean to be gay?"

My husband's bringing me a drink right now.

So is mine.

In many ways, the world for gay people

has never looked brighter.

They've achieved a level
of freedom unimaginable

even 10 years ago.

From pop culture to
politics to big business,

gays are changing the world.

This is a huge leap forward
in that there are images

of us that are being used
to bring people together.

We are being represented in these ads

in a way that is inclusive,
it is kind, it is smart.

And is an effective
strategy to sell things.

As opposed to the years and years

of our community being
used as a selling tool

to divide people.

The only way that gay people can contribute

to anything is to be out.

Because being gay is not
a part of who we are,

it's all of who we are.

I think what the gay community has to teach

the world is the power of not being afraid

to be yourself.

But can gay people have it both ways?

Can they blend into mainstream society

and still hang onto what makes them unique?

A lot of people say that the fight

for same sex marriage is
all about assimilation.

We are becoming just like straight people.

To me, assimilation is
just a multi-syllable word

for equality.

We don't want to blend in.

We just want to be treated with the same

respect and fairness under
protection of the law.

And that's what I think
this next generation

really have an opportunity to do which is

maintain the specialness of our community

and also expand the area
of rights and opportunities

that the LGBT community has
been fighting so hard for.

But as the boundaries

between straight and gay break down,

some are left wondering what might

have been lost on the
road to full equality.

One of the great things about being gay

was my parents never said,
"Why aren't you married?"

Now I have to hear this every day.

"Why aren't you married?"

Getting married and going
into the armed forces

were the two last things
I'd ever want for myself.

While I appreciate the
importance of those rights

for the community and I
fight tirelessly for them,

there's something a little
banal about just wanting

to be married and wanting
to go kill people overseas.

It's what other people always did.

I hope we're not raising a whole generation

of 22 year olds who are
spending all their time

like reading Bride magazine
and planning their weddings

because I think, "but isn't
that a sign of a certain


I don't really think
that gay stepford wives

is a great solution to this movement.

Today the gay rights movement

is defined by how far it has come since

the darkest days of the AIDs crisis.

And the change may reflect something more

than just the passage of time.

It's human nature.

They don't see the death that propelled us

into the streets in the late 80's

and people really long to get past that.

They want their generation to be known

for these glorious victories.

The idea that there is a generation

of men and women who don't have to wonder

whether or not they can marry the person

that they love, who don't
have to worry about being

able to be with the person
they love when they're dying

in a hospital, is really a
tremendous, tremendous feeling.

At some point we will
be far enough away from

the struggle where we have the possibility

of not remembering it and
that's one of the great

responsibilities that we have to share

with the younger generation.

I don't want them to
have to live through that

but I don't want them not to know.

I went to my grandniece's gay wedding.

They'd been going together for 12 years

and her partner's son was a preacher

and he officiated it.

Here I am sitting in Des Moines, Iowa

at a gay wedding and who
would have ever thought.

I was actually quite proud
of it to tell you the truth.