It has been 100 years since the Roaring ‘20s and oh how the world has changed!
The public is becoming more exposed and fluent to the gay and lesbian lifestyles. Neighborhoods, cities and suburbs are becoming more diverse and the family unit in which consisted of a man and woman, is now more likely to be a same-sex couple. There is definitely a shift in how we once viewed and what we view as normal today.
Welcome to the Gay 2020s: A time filled with celebrities coming out on Instagram, a drag queen making history by being the first to host Saturday Night Live, a transgender Miss America contestant and finally, Mayor Pete Buttigieg being the first openly gay male to campaign for the Democratic presidential nominee. A new decade is upon us and it is time to brace ourselves for a rollercoaster ride of change and adaptation. Are we in a new age of gayism, or are the times just shifting significantly enough for the LGBTQ+ community to become progressively mainstream and in reality, losing their true identity?
Looking back in history to the 1920s, it wasn’t quite as similar to this day and age (well, at least for the LGBTQ+ community), but yet not so different. Being open about your sexuality and coming out on social media as gay, bi-sexual or pan-sexual in the 1920s was unheard of. Today, there is a more steady flow of people coming to terms with their sexuality and living an authentic life, but it doesn’t mean that it is now more accepted than it was in the ‘20s.
Instead, it was the underground scene in New York that drew queers, transgenders, straights, artists, writers and the like into a world outside of the mainstream that allowed them to express themselves and eventually come out.
Commonly known as drag balls, these masquerade parties attracted over 1500 guests who would show up dressed in wigs, gowns and powdered faces. There was no distinguishing the men from the women. Everyone came together to celebrate their diversity at these lavish social gatherings.
Just before the Nazi uprising, which began in the early 1930s when gay Berlin was at its peak just before World War II, another underground movement was happening. During this time, night clubs and cabarets were filled with men congregating to view gay themed theater and films. Life is a Cabaret and underground lifestyle flourished throughout the decade of the 1920s. Gay publications were at their height and male prostitution was on the rise.
There is no denying that the LBGTQ+ stomping grounds has been part of an ever changing movement since the 1920s drag balls and masquerades. Living through the 1969 Stonewall riots to currently having over 30 countries who created national laws legalizing gay and lesbian marriage, we have moved forward in great strides.
The LGBTQ+ family has truly evolved over the last 100 years. Have we become progressive enough to make a difference globally and keep moving forward? Are we beginning to become the chameleon in a world filled with clones? Have we become so mainstream that we have lost our identity to be true to ourselves because of the need for equality?
Maybe it is time for us to go back to the old days and seek the underground movement, but not return to our closeted roots. Rejuvenate the days of the Cabaret’s and masquerade balls where the queer as folk would assemble collectively.
The LGBTQ+ populace in San Luis Obispo needs more places to congregate and gather together like the days of the Gay 1920s. Not to frolic, but rather to engage with each other and bond. Public areas would give LGBTQ+ residents the opportunity to come together, embrace our diverse culture and continue on the the grassroots campaign that we were founded on.