Coming out is hard for everyone. However, as the queer community becomes more accepted in everyday life, how does this change the process of coming out and being queer? We went out and interviewed queer elders and youth and analyzed the different experiences of coming out between generations. Gayborhood is thought to be the gay central of Philly, but is it accepting of both newer and older generations?
The William Way LGBT community center serves LGBT senior citizens. They have favorable housing in the heart of the gayborhood which is called The John C. Anderson Apartments.
This is a picture of the elders at the William Way Senior Home.
This is Elizabeth, a trans woman who resides in the William Way Senior Home. Here she discusses the importance to be authentic to oneself. Pretending to be someone else is something that many of the elders discussed participating in. Being authentic was also a message that many of the elders wanted to give to youth, to “never give up” on something that you truly believe in, and never be something you’re not to appease someone else.
This is a picture of group of protesters fighting for LGBT rights. One elder at the home said the quote below which took us a minute to think about the fact that there are still things we need to fight for.
“Rights aren’t given, you have to take them “
While progress has been made through the years, there is still a need for society to make the queer community assimilate into hetero-normative behavior. As we interviewed different elders, we realized one main difference is the acceptance between their generation and ours. While we may be accepted, there is still this weird push for the queer community to begin to mold their lives to that of an everyday hetero couple. Michael discussed the importance of maintaining the fight for freedom and liberty, and how things may be different but things are still not equal. Many of the elders discussed the difference in “coming out”, and how for the most part, their families were “okay” with it as long as the “neighbors” didn’t know (Ben).
This map gives a representation of queer spaces around the Gayborhood of Philly. These spaces have been passed down generation to generation, passing on the tradition of keeping these spaces queer. While many have gone out of business over the years, new owners give these spaces a new ambiance to attract the newer generation and keep the space as an ongoing safe space.
This is Catherine the woman who I interviewed I talked to her about coming out and she told me that it was not as difficult as today. She came out when she was 19 by accident and at first her parents especially her father wanted her to go to therapy because he was convinced this feeling that she was having was wrong. Catherine only agreed to go if her father went with her because in the events leading up to this she found out that her father had different sexual experiences of his own. Her father rejected going to therapy and that’s when it all ended.
She says that being queer and being older is not anything special she had so many life experiences that she shared with me throughout this conversation.
I know the Gayborhood exist but it’s very white and I think having a space for us would be nice or just a organization that host events geared towards us.
Tay, a nineteen year old black woman, discussed her view on Philly’s Gayborhood. Tay is originally from NYC and discussed the main differences between the queer community in NYC and Philly. One main thing she discussed was the difficult for her to “fit in” in Gayborhood due to the fact that the establishments and events were primarily geared toward queer whites.
Going to a gay bar is a really fun and comfortable environment for me.
Emily, a Drexel student, discussed the comfort that these queer spaces gave her. When looking for a good time, often most college students visit Frat parties, however, Emily explained her comfort in queer spaces and bars where she was able to express her sexuality and feel heard. In these queer spaces, Emily felt as though her sexuality was seen and acknowledged as opposed to being ignored and pursued by men who she clearly was not interested in.
I feel like media is a blessing and a curse .
Ken discusses the importance of media and how media can be both a tool and a weapon. Media can be used to express our true selves and find like-minded others, something older generations did not have the luxury of doing. While it can be a tool, those who oppose the queer community can also use it as a weapon to misconstrued information and paint a different picture for the community.