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A wonderful conversation with a one-time sparring partner

Sometimes, when we face off against our adversaries in the blogosphere, we become less civil than we might be in the real world because here we’re just see words on the computer screen, whereas in person we can see an actual human being.  In blogs, it becomes easier to reduce each person to his political views (and sometimes views as misinterpreted by the critic).

Last night, at the launch party for Outfest, I chanced upon (if chance it was) one of my initial internet sparring partners and found David Ehrenstein to be an excellent interlocutor.  We both sung the praises of the gay and lesbian film festival.  And that wasn’t the limit of our agreement. We also agreed that there has been a cultural shift resulting in an increasing social acceptance of gay people.  Whether or not it was the the TV series Will & Grace (as I suggested in a recent post) or some other cultural event, something else altogether or (more likely) a combination of these (& other) things, it’s a different world from the one men of his generation — and my own — knew when we came out.

Unlike some of his left-of-center confrères, he recognized that there has also been a change on my side of the political aisle.  He attributed it to Ken Mehlman’s coming out, I to Mary Cheney’s.

We also discussed the changes in culture as homosexuality becomes more socially acceptable, with him wistfully recalling the live of poet Frank O’Hara and sharing stories about gay Hollywood stars of the past — and their lovers.  It was a most delightful conversation.  And a reminder that you can often have the more civil of discussion with your ideological adversaries, something which alas this medium sometimes seems to discourage.

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3 Comments

  1. “because here we’re just see words on the computer screen, whereas in person we can see an actual human being”

    Bingo. It’s like flipping another driver off from the safety of your car. They’re not really another person, they’re an automaton inside a steel cube. Depersonalized, they’re safely attacked.

    Comment by Tom the Redhunter — June 10, 2011 @ 10:31 pm - June 10, 2011

  2. Tom, great analogy!

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — June 11, 2011 @ 12:32 pm - June 11, 2011

  3. The loudmouths are not the people. I’m about to start my seventh decade. I have been aware of homosexuality since childhood. Almost all extended families have a homosexual or two. I don’t think any specific event has triggered the growing tolerance that is now evident. I liken it more to the civil rights movement. It’s not so much that people have changed their attitudes as it is that they have made the loudmouts socially unacceptable.

    Comment by Roy Lofquist — June 11, 2011 @ 1:19 pm - June 11, 2011

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