Toronto
2 min

Re: Queer youth

Our national gay group has forgotten teenaged passions

Andrew Griffin says EGALE is more worried about property than expression. Credit: Xtra files

It is sad but apparently true that the members of Equality For Gays And Lesbians Everywhere (EGALE) really do not care about queer youth – unless refuse to see reason on their own and will not do anything for queer youth unless forced to do so by public pressure.



A couple of months ago, EGALE president Kim Vance said the group will not oppose any move to raise the age of consent to 16 (from 14) because the federal government would simply “level the playing field” and the new law would not present “any barriers to equality.”



Doesn’t it matter to EGALE that queer teenagers or their adult lovers will be criminalized for having consensual sex? Apparently not, as long as straight teenagers and their adult lovers are criminalized as well.



EGALE’s members seem to take their name quite literally: if there is equality under the law – no matter how unjust, irrational or unnecessary that law is – they are satisfied.



One wonders how far will they take the iron logic of their name? If the government proposes public corporal punishment for all teenagers caught having sex, will EGALE remain stoically silent because there is equality before the law?



Or is it that EGALE’s membership simply doesn’t see queer youth as important enough?



Vance was quoted in Xtra as saying, “We have to work on those issues if our membership identifies them as a priority.”



EGALE’s priorities seem to be focussed on making sure their spousal rights and employee benefits are safe and sound. In other words, EGALE seems to be more about property and money than it is about sex, sexuality and freedom of expression.



That fixation belies their age. Is it because queer teenagers as a rule do not have a lot of money or property that EGALE doesn’t seem to care about them? One would hope not, but what other explanation is there for their inaction?



Perhaps the middle-aged, middle-class gay men and lesbians who form the complacent core of EGALE could tear their thoughts away from their investment portfolios and same-sex wedding photo albums long enough to remember their own teen years.



If they think back to that deep, powerful desire to connect sexually to someone of the same sex that awakens during pubescence, perhaps they will not be so quick to dismiss age of consent laws as unimportant.



It was the desire to share our sexuality – not our pension plan – that drew us towards members of the same sex and out of the closet.



When I had my first sexual experience the age of consent was still 21 years of age for any form of homosexual activity. I was only 19 and my first lover was 24 – a five-year age difference that made a potential criminal out of him every time we fucked.



Fortunately, he seemed to feel the risk was worthwhile.



If EGALE members think back to their own seminal sexual experiences perhaps they will rediscover the true wellspring of the gay and lesbian movement. It is our sexual desires – not our marital status, not our age and certainly not our net worth- – that make us gay or lesbian. We dreamed of mutual masturbation long before we dreamed of mutual funds.



EGALE’s refusal to tackle the age of consent issue is a denial of all that makes us gay and lesbian and an insult to every queer youth yearning for the touch of another.



If EGALE’s membership would focus on same-sex spousal benefits rather than age of consent, they have every right and freedom to do just that. They shouldn’t be surprised, however, that in doing so the queer youth they abandon today may want nothing to do with them tomorrow.



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EGALE has now announced that it will accept feedback on its age of consent stance. An on-line questionnaire can be found at www.egale.ca. Or send c/o 177 Nepean St, suite 306, Ottawa K2P 9Z9.