The LGBTQ 'Closet’ Door Now Seems Wide Open

The LGBTQ 'Closet’ Door Now Seems Wide Open
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With the mention of ‘Civil Rights’ most people immediately think in racial terms. But since the ‘60s another civil rights movement has been taking place as well.

A Little History

In Part 1 of “Sex, No Drugs & Rock’N’Roll (Memoirs Of A Music Junkie),” I remember the reaction in 1966, when I invited Allen Ginsberg to speak at Indiana University, “Allen walked into the room with electric hair sticking out, except where it clung to his ruffled red flannel shirt. Holding hands with an anemic male companion, Ginsberg swished to the podium and took center stage while most homosexuals were still in the closet. The entire spectacle caught the dumbfounded ladies of the I.U. Poetry Society with no established roles of etiquette. So they sat like a school of fish with round mouths sucking wind.”

Even in Part 2, at the outset of the 70’s, I noted, “In 1970, except for a few hippy freaks, gays were still in the closet. In fact the cover of the first Elton John album released that summer was a decidedly masculine facial profile hidden in black. And my mom still thought Liberace was just a sweet man who never found the right woman.”

However, six years later in Part 2, “In Canada, the Montreal Olympics were launched, where Bruce Jenner would win decathlon gold…. Sex roles evolving as surgically reassigned Rene Richards, tried to enter the U.S. Open as a woman, and Elton John admitted his ‘bisexuality’ in Rolling Stone.” Perhaps more than ironic that Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) won the decathlon the year Rene Richards had her much publicized sex change.

Dancing Into Mainstream America

Meanwhile, the year before I noted, “The “Rocky Horror Picture Show” bombed at the box office, too outlandish for middle America, but perfect for The Village (and the times). Everyone yelling in unison and dancing the “Time Warp” to soaring streams of toilet paper…” Then with the likes of Andy Warhol, The Velvet Underground, The New York Dolls, at Max’s Kansas City, The Electric Circus, then Studio 54, bouncing off the electric lights of Disco, the country caught “Saturday Night Fever” and, “Sony introduced Betamax, and the porn industry got an international erection, no longer zipped behind seedy X-rated walls. Bette Midler’s boobs graduated from the Continental Baths to Broadway.” And it felt like the gay community was dancing into the mainstream.

Then came the 80’s … and AIDS

“LGBT”… A Long Way Back

It looks like it’s taken two generations to overcome the heartbreak, fear and paranoia, surrounding the epidemic that ravaged society and forced thousands back into hiding. As ‘politically correct’ TV once had to include a token black on the screen, before biracial programming became ordinary, it now feels like a similar gay assimilation is taking place. “LGBT” or lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, initialization, seemed to become part of the vernacular along with texting and the internet, keying an awakening as mainstream acceptance emerged in the 90’s. When, for example in ’94, Roseanne Barr kissed Mariel Hemingway on her sitcom, and ABC threatened not to air it. When they did, 30 million viewers tuned in. In ’97 Ellen DeGeneres came out on Oprah. In an episode of “Friends” in 2001, Jennifer Aniston kissed Wynona Ryder and in 2002, Rosie O’Donnell came out on “The View.” Now as gay rights activists are campaigning for equal treatment in every state of the union there seems to be a gay character in almost every TV show and commercial on the air,. Has the pendulum swung back too far…? I’m not sure… But as an overly heterosexual male, I remember musing back in 1968, when two beautiful GoGo dancers chose each other over me, along with the concept of eventual overpopulation, “… the weird premonition that maybe someday, as a means of preserving our species, non-productive homosexuality might become the norm, and heterosexuals, outcasts... Perhaps even outlawed in favor of genetic control, giving new meaning to eventually becoming a ‘dirty old man.’”

What do you think?

L.E. Kalikow’s “Sex, No Drugs & Rock’N’Roll (Memoirs of a Music Junkie)” is available in paperback, iBook, Kindle, & AudioBook online.

You can follow L.E. Kalikow on Twitter at @LEKalikow or Facebook at LEKalikowAuthor

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