Sunday, September 20, 2015


Colby Melvin, self-proclaimed gay activist. 

I am annoyed by a Youtube thing...well, actually, I am annoyed by many things on Youtube, but this one is particularly annoying. 

There is a new carelessness with the term "activist" among gay men in all media. An activist is someone who engages in intentional actions to change the status quo, to right a wrong, to promote social justice, etc.. However, "activist" on Youtube and elsewhere, when applied by self-promoters to themselves, seems to mean "a pretty boy with bleached teeth and naturally muscular proportions who looks good in designer underwear". 

Activism, such as promoting human rights for gay men in ISIS-controlled territory, is hard work. It doesn't require a porn body, cool dancing or trendy tattoos. It does often require the determination to work many hours voluntarily (and often unrecognized) for an organization in one's free time after working a plain old day job as an out gay man. In other words, activism is service, not self-aggrandizing exhibitionism in front of a camera. 

For many years I avoided calling myself a "gay activist". Why? Because I was humbled by the relentless voluntary service many men of my generation gave to the worldwide community of homosexual men in the pre-HIV days of Gay Liberation (1969-1982). I worked under the leadership of some of these men. I also worked as a co-leader in my own profession's early LGBT association. Somehow the word "activist" was reserved in my mind for people like Edward Carpenter, Oscar Wilde, Harvey Milk, Henry Hay, Peter Tatchell. They are our gay male Martin Luther Kings.

But now I see pretty boys in designer underwear wagging their asses on Youtube describing themselves as "gay activists". I suppose, compared to them, I am a gay crusader of epic proportions, but the relativity of that comparison is as odious as any comparison of one generation to another. I am not about to become an activist against bimbos-posing-as-activists. I would just like young gay men to turn off their streaming videos long enough to consider what they can actually do to change the plight of those like themselves all over the world who are under the threat of exile, torture and death. Pretty boys in underwear are just not going to cut it.

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