Ted Clark – Generational Effects

“Where do you go to get information?”

In the later years of teaching, I used to look at these kids that I would see in high school that basically knew they were gay. We didn’t have a GSA in the building yet, but you could tell. I would look at them and think, “How the heck do they even know that they’re gay at this point in school?” When I go back to my archaic high school, you didn’t even know the name. Then, you start looking at social statistics and I went, “Oh, I know why.” When I was in high school having sex with a person was not even talked about. Or, if you did, it was a huge no-no. These kids are having sex in junior high school.

Then, the other half of it is, the positive side of it is, when you’ve got a GSA in your school, and these things are discussed—they’re discussed on television nonstop, and your news media, and your social media—you’ve got so much information that the probability that a kid today is going to “have to get married” because that’s the social norm, is virtually gone.

The thing that has changed for me in this time frame, too, is the internet. That’s the great equalizer. Prior to the time you had computer internet access, where do you go to get information? Who do you talk to? There was not [the] anonymity that there is now, when you Google on and go get your resources. [Now] you’ve got tons of things, or people you talk to anonymously, that sort of thing. It’s definitely better, I think. It’s given the groups that are the support groups broader recognition, too. When PFLAG wanted to get started and you couldn’t run an ad in the newspaper . . . Not that it’s an issue in the newspaper anymore, but you have such a broader base to be able to communicate with [on the internet].

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Sources: Interview with Susan Williams on 3 December 2006, held at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture; interviews with Laura S. Hodgman on 30 November 2012 and on 27 February 2014.