(Photo: As a matter of fact, we have been posing on this corner for 21 years.)
[This entry is one in a series of dispatches from my recent trips to Gotham.]
So I’m GLYNYing again. This past spring, I chronicled the sudden and miraculous Internet reunion of my 1980s cohort of Gay and Lesbian Youth of New York (GLYNY, pronounced “GLIH-nee”). The nation’s first-ever gay youth peer support group, GLYNY was founded in New York City in 1969 as a splinter cell of the historic Gay Liberation Front.
I attended the group’s Saturday meetings religiously from 1986 through 1990–right through my formative teen years. More than that, with my newly close old friends, I served on the group’s Steering Committee for most of that time, rewriting bylaws, organizing a bevy of events, and otherwise making sure our nonprofit I’s were dotted and T’s crossed.
Very unexpectedly, here we go again. As of this month (and as of this trip of mine to NYC), GLYNY AGAIN, the Gay and Lesbian Youth of New York Alumni Group, achieved not-for-profit status and chose its initial Board of Directors. And almost every single 1980s Steering Committee member–myself included–finds themselves at the helm of the group, once more. I’m honored to serve as the group’s communications officer and the administrator of our official discussion board.
Still, I sure hope history doesn’t repeat itself. Back in the day, it often felt like the only reason we were committee members was because no one else wanted to be bothered with helping to run the organization. That was, from time to time, galling, because we had well over 100 members all with ideas they wanted put into action but few with the actual desire to make them happen. Much got unnecessarily deferred to the Steering Committee, and the resulting stress and resentment eventually led to the dissolution of the 1980s committee membership.
We’ll see how it goes this time. I’d like to attribute our previous troubles to teenage angst, but at the age of 37, I know well the lengths adults will go to avoid acting their age. For now, I’m giving us all the benefit of the doubt.
If all continues to go well, however, in November, we’re hosting a first-ever alumni reunion meeting at New York City’s Gay Community Center in Greenwich Village, to be followed by a swank Midtown reception (sponsored by John Greco, chef of Phillip Marie, home of the best fried green tomatoes in Gotham). That meeting will culminate a summer of ad-hoc reunion dinners and get-togethers that have taken place among GLYNY alumni across the country (no surprise, we already have 112 alumni participating on our reunion forum, with more GLYNYites finding us every day).
Best of all, our reunion has extended far beyond our 1980s cohort. Actively participating in GLYNY AGAIN are several founding members of the group (originally Gay Youth of New York) from 1969, as well as alumni from the 1970s, early 1980s, and 1990s. So November’s accidentally triggered reunion is quickly turning into a once-in-38-years celebration of America’s gay youth movement.
Who expected that? In the 1980s, we certainly had no idea the historic role our group was playing in that movement. We always thought the hard work was done by our 1970s antecedents, GLYNY’s founding members. But as Mark Horn, one of those founding members, observed recently, “You were the guys who had to deal with AIDS–in some ways, you had it a lot harder than we did.”
In retrospect, I see the truth in that. I guess you never know what you’re really in the middle of until you move on. That’s certainly true about the bonds that persist in linking us all together. Four months since the beginning of our mass reunion, most of us remain in abject and happy shock that we still all, frankly, love and unconditionally accept each other. We’ve stopped trying to explain it. Our friends and loved ones have stopped trying to convince us that it’s a temporary state of affairs.
It is what it is. I mean, there’s not exactly a model of behavior to follow when you’re the alumni of a first-of-its-kind organization. Our emotions ran high then and continue to do so–especially the good feelings. I remain as perpetually thrilled as the rest of us, and that’s enough for me. So for better or worse, and very officially, I’m GLYNYing again. I couldn’t be prouder about my continued association with this amazing group of people.
And at least this time around, we don’t have to constantly worry about being carded.