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What Happened to Gay Life? by Robert…
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What Happened to Gay Life?

by Robert Reynolds

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I learnt so much from this book.

At first glance, the subject matter may seem irrelevant to people who aren't interested in Mardi Gras (Australia's equivalent of other country's Pride Parade). However, by using interviews with participants in subsequent years, the book gives glimpses of how society and the gay community has changed since 1975 when the first protest march was held through the streets of Sydney in commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots.

I read the book as research for my novella "Mardi Gras", and while I don't discuss the issues in detail, the insight into the way people's attitudes have changed did help me get a handle on my two characters with their May-November age difference.

In "What Happened to Gay Life", Robert Reynolds shows how, over time, the parade and its participants reflect the changing world around them.

At the start, when sodomy was a crime, being gay almost required you to be politically active, either overtly or covertly, to protest and protect your right to be who you were.

As each battle was won, the fight changed.

Next HIV became a factor and a new enemy was on the scene, needing new tactics and a different attitude.

In Reynolds interviews with participants from subsequent generations a picture is built up of how each, in a way, feels alienated, not understanding the other generation, mainly because their fight has been different.

For example, the "clones" fought the concept that being gay equated to being a fairy, being effeminate.

Later, when this battle was won with muscles and pride, a new enemy appeared on the horizon, the right to be seen as a person first not as a homosexual.

The arguments continue between generations who sometimes find they have little in common, firstly within the gay community and also with the rest of society, many of whom still find it hard to accept them as they are.

Robert Reynolds captures this confusion but doesn't try to answer the question, because in a way there is no answer. You may as well ask "What Happened to Society"?

My "answer" in my fictional novella "Mardi Gras" based around the parade is to accept this diversity which has eventuated over time and remember the common thread that binds them together because without this memory, "gay life" risks being divided again. ( )
  AB_Gayle | Mar 31, 2013 |
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In 2002 the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras went bankrupt. It struggles on, but Gay Sydney isn't what it used to be--a shining international beacon of hedonistic homosexuality that was an economic and a political force. This very engaging book tries to find out what happened to gay life. Robert Reynolds talks to numerous gay men--some whose lives are committed to struggling for gay rights, others whose major struggle has been for the right to party and some for whom being gay is no big deal. The book raises lots of questions about what being gay means as gay life becomes mainstream.… (more)

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