Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Respect the Elders and Envision a Future

I wonder sometimes at night why I have never seen my future past the age of 40. Perhaps its my youth, incapable of imaging spending another 20 years on this earth, but at the same time I realize that I have almost no role models past the age of 40. I exist in a community with few visible elders, and I wonder, does 'queer' age well? There are aspects of queer society that do not in fact age well, through a combination of disease, substance use, depression and other issues that infect our community there are many who live on a different time-line of life events, much shorter than the hetero-normative standpoint.

Another factor that plays into that is that the concepts of queer and genderqueer as identifying terms is rather new and there are very few older queers who grew up around this language, and while some do identify with these terms many do not. However, that does not mean that sexualities and gender deviance that we think about today in connection to the queer and genderqueer community, are not represented in the older generation. Speaking with my aunt once she told me that had the terms 'transgender' or 'genderqueer' been available to her at my age she would have likely chosen to identify as such. However, despite not having these terms as definition I would say that my aunt still lived a very genderqueer life.

Within the "young/hip" queer community today we have created labels and identities that "fit" our needs. However, in the mess of this search for identity we often loose the people who could be of most value, the elderly. Queer chronology doesn't work in the same way as hetero chronology. While we all have families and connections to them, we also have a legacy of gay people who came before us a paved the way for us to be there. WE need to stop thinking about terms that only apply to modern subcultures as the end all be all of identity. Identity is molding and changing every second; within the ways that we perform for the camera and with the ways that we perform for others (/how others see us).

Regardless hopefully as the queers I know begin to age I will be able to envision a model for myself; although of course, there is always something relieving in the concept that I will die before age 50.