My hometown writes about gay issues!

I grew up in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and stayed there for 26 years. Oasis started when I still lived there. When I was coming out, there were gay bars and the very beginnings of social networking. PFLAG had just started around that time. And there was a group called REACH (Recreationally and Educationally Active Community Heroes, I believe), for which I had no hand in naming, started having events and support groups, as well.

I remember when another "activist" and myself at that time started a coming out support group under the REACH banner. Week after week, we would meet and about a dozen or so people would show up, only no one wanted to come out. It ended up being more of a "how to stay closeted and why that isn't such a bad thing" group, to the frustration of the more activist people. I stayed on primarily to talk to young people who showed up at the meeting, in what must have looked like pure pedophilic intention. I wanted them to know this meeting was a warning sign, not a resource. Don't follow this example.

It wasn't all that tragic, but there are still a lot of people there who have their closeted life and their gay night out at the bar once or twice a week, never letting the two sides bleed into one another.

When I wrote for the daily newspaper, which owns The Weekender, I would get to cover gay stories even while being openly gay. The caveat was that I had to cover "both sides." So, if the gay campus group planned to have a gay film festival, I had to call the local anti-gay activist, inform him there was such a thing, and then get him to say he opposed it. Otherwise, there was no story. This policy ended when I told my boss I couldn't wait until I got to interview the local racist for my Kwanzaa story that year.

In any event, this buildup is because the local paper there, The Weekender (who foolishly didn't hire me as its editor way back when, although if they had I'd probably not be in San Francisco now, so thanks) ran a cover story with three additional stories about the gay scene there.

Nothing earth-shaking, but still good to see it happening. The stories cover the:

Keep up the good work!

Comments

ThinkGreen's picture

Where in PA is that? I live

Where in PA is that?
I live just outside of Philly. Close enough to be able to say that, but far enough away to not be able to go there often because I cant drive.
I live in a small town, Collegeville, and there are no support groups or PFLAG chapters anywhere near here.
I've decided that when I get my license I'm going to find one.

A true friend stabs you in the front.

jeff's picture

Wilkes-Barre...

is up in the NE corner, two hours north of Philly.

---

"Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there." -- Josh Billings.

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jojojo's picture

haha, what a ridiculous

haha, what a ridiculous policy of 'covering both sides'

We have all been injured, profoundly. (Donna Haraway)
I Am Out, Therefore I Am. (Okay, mostly.)