Helen Bonser – Generational Effects

“Now other tactics are required.”

I am now an old-style activist, because I’m 70. The young activists now are not nearly so assertive or aggressive or . . . They don’t act out like we did. Back in the ‘60s you demonstrated, you sat in, you marched, you threw your body into the whole thing—as well as your words and everything. That’s the mode I come [from]. If I’m going to speak, I’m going to speak out . . . That’s how we all were.

Now, the young activists—and we have a wonderful young generation who knows what their fate is in this society, if they don’t do something about it. I know some of them that have gone to join the Occupy movement. They’re moving all over the country with it. They joined it to stay. They really have my heartstrings, because they’re kind of doing what we used to do.

But now other tactics are required too. People need to be more into the art of compromise, collaboration, and use more quiet tactics. The person that will take my place is my partner [at PFLAG], Charles Smaltz. He’s 48. He’s a soft spoken, spiritual—just as dedicated to equality as I, but he has a different style. He’s one of our co-chairs of PFLAG now, and it works better for this day and time. The old style that we have . . . If they want somebody to pick a fight and be in somebody’s face, they go get me. They’ll go, “We’ll just get Helen.” [Laughs.] But it’s changed over time, and I think it probably needed to. We have difference in different generations.


Source: Interview with Laura S. Hodgman on 14 March 2013.