They are part of the Baby Boom generation. Born between the mid-1950’s and the late 1960’s, the oldest were in elementary school during the March on Washington in 1963, the assassinations of Malcolm X (1965), Martin Luther King (1968) and the birth of the modern gay rights movement touched off by the Stonewall Riots in 1969.
… Just as many of these men were coming of age and growing in their own self-awareness, HIV/AIDS arrived, in the early 1980’s. This generation of Black gay men would lose literally thousands of their peers to the pandemic, but they would also be on the frontlines of activist efforts to do something about it. Most of the Black gay national and local organizations for health and social support were started, if not by this generation, then by those who came just before them, during their youth, and with their active participation.
As time has passed, personal and social priorities have shifted. America has always been a youth-oriented culture and the gay community is no different. People once vital and valued members of the community, may now struggle to find connection or may willingly choose to pursue interests less singularly focused. Older, but with lives no less vibrant or purposeful, these men must now redefine themselves at midlife.
The posts feature response to a questionnaire Bernie sent to a number of black gay men who fit the description above. (I was among those who received a questionnaire, but didn’t complete mine in time to be included in the series. My bad!) The series thus far consists of four parts: A Conversation With My Brothers; The Search for Community; Friendship, Love and Intimacy; and The End of Our Youth.
For a look into lives most often left unexamined in our culture, and voices most often ignored or unheard, check out Bernie’s posts.