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A Word From Your Mother
I don't have any statistics on this on hand, but from observation and a little logic it would seem reasonable to assume that gays and lesbians are more likely to have problems with drugs and alcohol than your average bear. More likely to smoke, more likely to have all sorts of addictions. Because of more societal pressure, the hiding and schizophrenic life of the closet, coming out, losing friends and family, all that stuff. The fact is that the place we tend to gather is a bar, although now there's MCC and a few other places, but traditionally and still overwhelmingly, it's the bar. To the point that The Bar is an inside gay phrase which MEANS *any* gay bar. And at least in the circles I circumnavigated for years, and I suspect my molecule was not unique then or now, one measure of a person's success in life was his or her ability to throw a huge private party and it NOT be a BYOB affair. Provide all the liquor a coterie of faeries could suck down, and your place in Gay Society was assured. For the weekend, anyway. I know: it's shallow. I don't orbit those folks anymore.

Things have improved a little in the last few years with more and more gays and lesbians getting clean and sober. Or at least on one end of the age spectrum, the users have dropped off the meter. Older gays and lesbians have given up their best friend Jack (Daniels) in such numbers that there are thousands of Gay AA and NA groups all across the country. Thank all that be holy. But maybe the ranks are just being refilled by the folks entering on the other end. From recent articles in OUT and other gay/lesbian magazines, there's enough wine and song and Ecstasy out there to fry another generation or two, with hardly anyone taking notice.

Did we not conclude a few years ago that drugs and alcohol (as if alcohol is not a drug and has to have a separate listing) create problems? Is being fuzzy headed out on the fire escape yet again going to make things all better, make coming out easier, telling friends and family easier, hiding easier?

Is it just me, or does anybody else notice that all the events, magazines, walkathons, fund raisers, golf tournaments and godnose what else that supposedly help our cause are sponsored by companies trading in alcohol? Or establishments that trade in alcohol? Every month, every gay magazine I get has a big ole vodka ad on the back page, and all through each issue there's more. Now I know I'm not going to turn the tide of commercialism or free trade with this rant, but think about this for a minute. If your head's not too fuzzy.

This sponsorship, this advertising, smacks to me of exploitation. Images of firewater come to mind. People using any kind of drug are less likely to take precautions for safer sex, not to mention all the other dangers of drinking and drugging, so is targeting our demographic group not just a little more suspect? Doesn't drinking and smoking increase a woman's risk for breast cancer, among other things? Aren't these ads killing us? I don't want to put too fine a point on it, or draw analogies that are inappropriate, but these companies don't give a rat's ass about our issues as gay people. Now, really, Mary. They don't. And while liquor has "helped" many a gay person get past those godawful inhibitions and not a small amount of denial over who we are, and past those infernal, unstoppable internal tapes of pulpit ravings and threats, I'm pretty sure liquor companies don't claim credit for these personal milestones in their PR releases.

All these liquor adds, all the drugs wafting around the party circuit, make using seem cool. And witness the still popular "druggie cool" look in the fashion ads in these same magazines. As if using and coming out are part of the ritual of becoming a gay adult, a rite of passage, one of the beautiful people.

It *ain't* cool. And it's not adult. And it sure ain't pretty. And my saying it's fake cool won't make you believe that your drug usage or drinking will *ever* be a problem for you personally. Because, of course, nothing bad will ever happen to you. And you'll never grow old and never gain weight. You'll always have those tight abs and legs up to your neck. Or get them if you don't have them now. Or marry them. And life is a long and glorious song: harmonious extemporania. And love is a thing that can never go wrong. And I am the queen of Rumania.

Dorothy Parker drank too much, too, I hear.

Does this column mean I'm getting old? I could have sworn I just heard myself say something about the younger generation. Well, pay attention anyway. This is your mother speaking.


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