More About La Parola (1995)

“Many articles in our La Parola ONLINE segment of Alex’s Home Page focus on critical issues in the lesbian/gay community. Some readers may find such issues controversial.”

“GLB” stands for gay, lesbian and bisexual, as does the rainbow flag which flies over so many homes and businesses across America …

Some years ago, a project like this would have been entirely unthinkable: there are many reasons we can think of, including community reaction, fears of misunderstandings, and the threat that the ideas in these pages would be deliberately misinterpreted in a way that brought harm to others.

That threat still exists, and must be fought effectively wherever it is found, but it is greatly diminished today. Men and women today work together, play together, and engage in community projects, in most cases not knowing or caring that the sexual orientation of about 10% of us is different than that of the majority. In those cases where a person’s orientation is known and “different”, the understanding offered is usually greater, the tolerance of differences is heightened, and a willingness to go forth and share the best within each of us prevails over most of this land.

  • The premise of this “Read Me”, and of this space within the Net, is that an understanding and appreciation of the “differences between us” leads to heightened self-awareness and knowledge of our own capabilities and resources.

DISCLAIMERS

Still, if you don’t know what you’re doing here, or you’re afraid the written word has the power to entice, allure, corrupt, alter, deceive, or otherwise deflower the monumental innocence accrued unto “you and yours”, maybe you should bail out now. But, if you’ve an adventuresome mind, and have just a little bit more self-confidence, perhaps you should instead read “Ask Alex“, our newly-released (and somewhat irreverent) GAY FAQ advice and Q&A column in these hallowed pages.

We want readers to understand that every gay person has “been there”. I remember a time in my life when just reading these words would have made me break out in a cold sweat. It is fear of self we all must master first, if any of us are to master anything.

If you’re looking for erotica, or gay skin pix, there’s plenty available on the Net, but we’re writing to a wider audience: “You can’t get there from here.”

  • If you are still reading this, but find yourself still uncomfortable with the idea of a “gay” online bulletin or a “gay” community, our advice is about the same as the militants’: learn about it, get over it, and get back to the business of living.
  • If you are “straight” and understand that “growing up gay” really does present special difficulties and challenges for gays and lesbians, your awareness of what you can do with your own life without that obstacle should be heightened. These pages should remind you that millions of gay American men and women can and do lead happy, successful, productive lives, almost as if those obstacles did not still exist.
  • If you’re gay, or just “coming out” at fourteen or forty, these pages should show you the same thing. You, more than anybody, could remind “straight” readers that you understand exactly what might make them uncomfortable with material aimed at a gay audience, because you’ve been there — in many cases, more recently than anyone else knows.

Most of the articles and stories in La Parola have always been written with the idea in mind that they should be enjoyable and informative to any reader. A message which echoes through these pages is that, strictly speaking, there is no “gay” art or literature, any more than it makes sense to talk of “straight” opera or essay-writing.

There is, for example, a wealth of literature written by gays and marketed primarily to a gay subculture hungry for a sense of community and identity. Such bodies of literature are also there for the black community, the disabled, the American Indian, and the set of all Jewish kids who grew up in New York. Much of this is sensitively and wonderfully written, as is much literature in other communities for those who care and dare to explore beyond their own TV remotes. Comparing this with literature written in and for the “greater community” is much easier than contrasting it, and you have to know the gay community well to catch most of the contrasting nuance.

Again, what emerges is not “gay literature” per se, but good literature.

Diversity has had its ups and down in this country, but what emerges from an understanding of this tremendous diversity is a profound appreciation of how much we are all really alike in capabilities, basic wants, and needs. I am gay, but what comes down on your Asian-American community, or another’s immigrant community, affects me, and my ability to interact freely with your community.

“Militant gays” should remember that in many cases it took a long time for friends, family or even yourselves to get used the idea of your own sexual identity as a human being. You owe it to yourself to give others at least the chance you gave yourself and those close to you. Bigots may be divided into those who truly do not understand, and those who refuse to — and it is only the last of those two who will never have the opportunity to grasp the obvious: “that could happen to me.”

La Parola ONLINE doesn’t attempt to “educate” the public on the fine points of being gay in a predominantly straight world.

We allude, but seldom explain. Our primary audience has “been there, done that.” Not that we don’t remember what “not getting it” was like, but there are plenty of available professional resources and references which might be needed to throw a life raft to a friend or loved one, or even save a life. If you are “coming out”, or know someone going through this, there are resources for either or both of you; these should be sought out soon rather than later, and you can reach them through these pages.

If there’s any “agenda” here at all, it’s that we are really all in the same boat; that, in the long run, “we are all minorities”. We argue strongly and openly from a reference point of inviolable individual rights for all, which is a political but nonpartisan viewpoint. If you are uncomfortable with it, you’ll have developed your own philosophical reference point, which in great likelihood points in the same direction.

We make no claims about the quality of the literature presented here; you’ll have to judge for yourself. Our function is to point the way, not to supply an instant, comprehensive, prefabricated frame of reference for anyone. As always, bylined material is the personal opinion of the writer or editor, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the GIA, or a consensus of the community.

If you find that much of what’s here bothers you, you’re fixating on who’s “gay” and who’s “straight”. That’s either a passing phase (which is OK), or you’re spoiling the best years of the only life you’ll ever get. Life is too important to waste on worrying about what “the others” are doing.

As we said in the beginning, We hope you find the stories fun, the essays and opinions thought-provoking, and the resources useful. Thanks for stopping by.

Alex Forbes ©1995
Editor, La Parola

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