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You would think a queer-identifying person would understand the perils that can come from judging matters in rigid binaries. After all, our sexualities and gender identities do not adhere to what constitutes “traditional” yet here we all are, challenging so many purported norms and rightfully murking up the waters. Nothing is black and white as it may seem and by now many of us within the LGBTQ community know better to believe otherwise. Yes, many of us, but not all of us.

Indeed, after reading Dylan Jones’ Attitude piece, “YOUNG QUEER PEOPLE SHOULDN’T BE OBLIGED TO CARE ABOUT LGBT HISTORY – AND THAT’S THE BIGGEST SIGN OF SUCCESS THERE IS (editor’s note: these are their caps, not mine),” I was provided yet another reminder that quite a few folks take the “it’s all about me-me-me-me-me, forget about you-you-you-you-you” approach to disagreement.

To be fair to Jones, some of his points are valid. There are some older gay men like Rupert Everett and Boy George who should sip some shut up juice and spare us from their self-loathing and anti-trans apologist stances. Some LGBTQ people do have to worry more so about surviving than protesting. And yes, there can be no denying that in many parts of the world, there has indeed been a wider acceptance of queer folks.

However, in his complaints about older gay men seemingly lecturing the youth to respect their elders, party less, and praise them for their activism of yore, he plays right into many of their diatribes by essentially encouraging the dummying of youth.

Jones writes: “All this raises the question – SHOULD young LGBTQ people care about their history? They’re certainly not obliged to. Why should they? This is just their lives. They’re existing as they should always have been allowed to exist – happily and freely. They shouldn’t be made to feel guilty, or even grateful for that.”

Guilt trips may be bothersome, but to discount history is to play into the less ideal traits such as ignorance, arrogance, and entitlement. And just in terms of common sense, if you’re annoyed by “old folks” not evolving their thinking, how is encouraging younger people not to know shit at all a solution? What good does that serve?

As for why young people should skip bothering to understand any aspect of LGBTQ history, he goes the way of trope: “They’ve also got shit to do. They’ve got shelves to stock, hair to cut, gigs to go to, dissertations to write, dicks to suck, selfies to take. And, quite apart from being queer, just being YOUNG in 2018 is difficult.”

Jones is very impressed with himself; bless his trying too hard to be cheeky heart.

No matter how one might gussy up their advocation of willful idiocy, it’s an ugly characteristic all the same. Perhaps I now sound like one of the very aging gays he loathes so much, but while some progress has been made, we still have a long way to go. In his native country of England, in the United States where I am writing, and in so many parts of the world.

The past is prologue, and for anyone who genuinely cares about the advancement of queer people, it behooves you to not only have some nominal knowledge of history, but sincere gratitude for what our elders have done for us.

He’s right when he says “LGBTQ history isn’t being threatened by people having a good time,” but he is dismissive about legitimate calls for more people to be informed and delusional about just how “good” everyone in the community has it.

Jones asserts that “Shame is largely a thing of the past and homophobia is, like, SO 2008.”

Jones also had the gall to declare: “One thing’s for sure – if Marsha P Johnson were around now, she wouldn’t scold young people for knocking back blue WKDs on the street at pride; she’d ask for a swig.”

Jones might not be up for an LGBTQ history exam, but it appears he would also fail a pop quiz on current events. If he bothered to watch even a few YouTube clips of Marsha P. Johnson, he’d know better than to say something this obnoxiously dim. Black trans women like Marsha P. Johnson are being murdered all over the United States. They are the most vulnerable among us, so while Johnson might enjoy a good time, her activism would still be going.

Not to mention, there are trans women across the country continuing to fight for their rights —  and they are inspired by her legacy.

Since Jones is being so blunt, I’d like to return the favor: he comes across as a privileged white man who only got a teaspoon of marginalization, managed to escape further tastes of it, and has decided that because he’s okay, everyone else should be just as ignorant as he opts to be. That’s great if he would rather go fuck and party than learn, but here’s the thing: it has never had to be one way or the other. No reasonable person has ever argued otherwise.

Maybe Jones considers multitasking too laborious, but trust me, it’s not as hard as it sounds.


Michael Arceneaux
Michael Arceneaux is the author of the forthcoming book I Can't Date Jesus (July 2018, Atria Books), which you need to go ahead and pre-order now.