Beginning when I was 9 years old homosexuality entered my consciousness with the AIDS epidemic, putting a dark stigma to gay. With the AIDS epidemic dispersing large homosexual centers, stigmatizing and ghetto-izing homosexuality, the homo-culture’s mainstream gains, while stereotyped, were undone by constant images of death. The Sassy Gay Friend was replaced by the Honorably Suffering Gay, aka AIDS-stricken. Technicolor dreams became 8mm dungeons.
I have no formed homosexual identity, rooted in beliefs, attitudes, and values. Homosexual culture is a set of shared perceptions that take heteronormative practices, beliefs, and arts, to repurpose for identification. Self-classification as any one sexual category, such as heterosexual, does not eliminate one from participating in queer culture. Rather, participation requires the ability to empathize with and perceive the world through the experiences of fringe and minority groups.
Growing up, homosexuality was a dark existence of hospital rooms and basements. It was a life to not be emulated; a culture to avoid by any means necessary. Being away from gay neighborhoods in urban areas meant no support network to explore gay culture and icons without derision. These circumstances led to low homosexual and queer acculturation, with newer generations cultivating alternative set of gay icons for consult and support.