CW: bullying, homophobia
I don’t like being called a millennial. Not because of the nonsense spouted by the Daily Mail et al about how we’re all whiny entitled little shits with eight genders and a chemical dependency on avocado. I’m more annoyed because the net of “millennial” is cast pretty wide and disregards some things that are really super important.
I was born in the first half of the nineteen eighties. I remember a time before the Internet, before mobile phones, when music came on CD, but had to be copied onto tape before you could listen to it out and about.
My sex education taught me that HIV was a death sentence. Mainstream humour was, with hindsight, heavily seasoned with homophobia, transphobia and mild racism. I was part of probably the last generation that found porn in hedges. My introduction to BDSM wasn’t through any kind of community online or otherwise, but through discount end of line Nexus paperbacks.
Compare and contrast to many later millennials who grew up with the internet as a thing. Who were able to get porn on a laptop in their bedroom. Who explored their sexuality through forums and fanfic and finding people of their own particular flavour of weird.
Yes I’m painting with a broad brush and individuals’ lived experiences are hugely variable but bear with me. A decade can be a long time in terms of societal attitudes and there are times when I really feel that a change happened between me and people a decade younger. In particular I wonder if I genuinely have more internalised homophobia than I would have had I been born in the early nineteen nineties? How much difference does upbringing make? How much of my awkwardness around cute guys I’m interested in is because of growing up in a rural village where being gay was considered the worst fate imaginable. An environment where I was bullied for and (confusingly) by the perception of being gay irrespective of my actual sexuality.
I don’t think my experiences were particularly atypical. I dare say that outside of my queer sex positive social circles a lot of these experiences are still relatable today. I guess I just get annoyed sometimes when I think about all of the experiences, all the potential joy and fun I’ve missed out on, and might still be missing out on, because of that time I got followed home by a couple of drunk lads shouting homophobic abuse, or that time a family member made up a song mocking my close friendship with another boy when I was at primary school.