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Next Generation’s Struggle

This is a dialogue with my daughter Thryn Hare (Kathryn).  Thryn has been named one of OutFront’s “25 leaders under 25”, a strong activist for Gay / Lesbian / Transgender rights at only 15 years old.  I couldn’t be more proud.

I should start by asking what it was like to talk to me about who you felt you were and how difficult it was.  I know it took you some time.  Did you think I might reject you for it?  What was going through your mind?

I never once believed for a second either of my parents would reject me. The only reason I was hesitant to tell you, is the same reasoning behind straight kids not wanting to tell their parents about their significant others. I was still figuring things out myself, I felt like it was a tad personal, and I didn’t want a big deal to be made out of it because it was always just something I was.  Even we queer kids don’t like parents meddling.

This is a different world that you live in.  When I was your age two of my friends were gay, but I didn’t know until years later.  There is only so much I can say about your life and the times you are defining around you now.  The hardest thing for me at the time was worrying that it would come between us only because I could never understand your life – orientation and generation.

Yes, I understand exactly what you mean and your concern. It’s tricky, but as I said one of the most important things to remember is that kids don’t always want a big deal to be made out of these differences. Simple, non accusing, and respectful questions about our feelings surrounding these topics, as long as you aren’t demanding an answer, can be a way of bridging that difference. You also have to make sure you actually listen to our answers.

As your Dad it’s important to me to be supportive and make sure you have what you need to be successful in the world.  That means understanding as much as I can so that I can be what need to be.  Most of the important stuff still applies – a confident mind, clear open eyes, and a compassionate heart.  But yes, as you become an adult this will someday soon be your world, defined by your experiences at least as much as mine.

Yes, that is also extremely important. Your generation and the generations before you have found their own ways of understand and ultimately affecting the world. We need to make our own mistakes and create our own experiences and not let the conflicts and so on that you faced define us as well.

Hopefully you can learn from us, though.  I tell you all these stories about desegregating Dade County Schools and the race riots for a reason.  I’d like to think we are mostly past racial issues, but as you know they are still with us, bubbling up in weird ways.  So you have your own path to follow, and you’ve told me that it could be another hard one.  I at least get to worry.

Don’t worry too much! It is very true we can learn from the past mistakes of not only the GLBTQ community but also the mistakes of other equality movements, we’re not starting from square one anymore. From what I’ve seen, the instinct in the queer community seems to be dividing and splitting of the community because of the large amount diversity in our movement.  An example of what I mean by this is I often feel like there is a split between those fighting for safe schools and those fighting for equal marriage.  There doesn’t need to be those splits, though, and I feel like more and more youth are realizing they are stronger as a unified force fighting together.

At least I can see that you learned that it’s not all about you, that it’s just not that kind of party.  That’s something that most of the world doesn’t seem to understand so it still can make for a pretty hard road.  But you already have the most important thing down – not to let social “conventions” mess with you.

I think it’s important to always remember the broader implications of everything our movement is fighting for.  Our generation’s job, more than anything, is to make sure no one is left behind or trampled in the socially forward movement in the future.

And for me it’s about what was always the hard part, accepting that my kids grow up and have to make their own way in the world.  Accepting who you are is not at all hard by comparison.  You’ll always be my daughter and I love you.

16 thoughts on “Next Generation’s Struggle

    • Thanks. I never want to exploit my kids, as they are my entire life. But I will let them speak for themselves when it’s reasonable. She’s nearly 16 and, as you can see, can do that well.

  1. Thank you for this interview. Good to hear a new activist’s point of view.

    The divisions of the 1960s and 1970s can still be instructive. The progressive wing of the Democratic Party, the New Left, came out against the Vietnam War. Working class people, who were for the most part Democratic, supported the war. The American working class also saw that college-aged war demonstrators didn’t have sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers fighting and dying in Vietnam. This division tore the Democratic Party and the Democrats for a long time were not perceived as credible on foreign policy issues.

    Many working class people didn’t like the new programs ushered in by the 1964 and 1966 Congress because they saw their taxes going to people who didn’t work. Racisim was also behind opposition to some Great Society programs. In those Congresses fair housing laws were passed as were federal aid for education, Great Society programs are a part of well accepted policy.

    The social agenda of the New Left was not in the mainstream in 1972. But the New Left in some ways took over the party that year. For example in Illinois many of the party establishment (non- activist) were muscled out of the national convention, because their views were seen as being stale. The internal division led to the defeat of Senator George McGovern in November 1972. However in time the much of the social agenda and attitudes of the New Left have become mainstream in 2012 America.

    • Real social change comes in generations. But it’s usually driven by young people who want to live in a different world than their parents – and they are not very patient. It all seems frustrating, but it works out in the long run. I know the world is safe when I see Thryn and her friends – they are going to do very well. They may even be another “Greatest Generation”. Lord help them all that they don’t have to prove it in a World War.

  2. Robert Gildea, a historian, wrote about generational change in response to the French Revolution. The book is Children of the Revolution.
    The French Revolution established constitutional monarchy, suffrage, representative assembly. Serfdom and the priviliges of the nobility and clergy were abolished. The French Revolution however was not able to stabilize itself. There were liberals who became radicalized and more radicalized on economic and social problems and then everywhere they saw enemies of the revolution. Hence the guillotine. Had the revolution been able to stabilize itself and not seesawed between dictatorship and representative government , France would have been ahead of Europe by 100 years. Succeeding generations grappled with ideals of the French Revolution. During the 1800s there were still elements that saw political violence as useful. However, others wanted French equality, liberty and fraternity without as much bloodshed. They wanted to advocate a progressive agenda, but not alienate huge blocs of people at the same time


    • Thanks. I have kept my kids out of this because they have their own lives. But letting Thryn tell her own story is different. You should know this is just how we talk at dinner, too.

  3. Erik (& Thryn): This may be the best post ever on Barataria, and I’m so glad you wrote it. Beautiful!

    • Thanks! I have great kids, they have always been what I live for. I think the care shows in what great people they have become, if I can take a little credit.

  4. Bravo to both you and Kathryn. Reading her words makes me feel better, knowing there are such smart, thoughtful young adults among us. Thank you for sharing that.

  5. Pingback: More than Getting Better, Let’s Make it Better, Starting Right Now | The Dad Poet

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