Friday, July 6, 2012

Intergenerational Friendships

I just posted this to Fetlife and I thought it should go here too.


This has been on my mind a lot over the last couple of years, and I've started expressing it here and there to a few people, but I thought I'd try and write out my thoughts a little more.

I'm in my mid/late twenties.  I'm definitely an adult, in all ways, but I am still young.

My friends?  Their ages range from 15 to 70.  And I love that.  That's important to me.


Because often people in different generations don't want to listen to each other.  Everyone sticks their fingers in their ears and thinks other generations are stupid in some way - older people think 'young people don't listen and don't know anything', younger people think 'old people are out of touch and don't know anything'.

They're all wrong of course.  Older people have experience and knowledge that only comes with time.  Young people have fresh, new hope and ideas.

I am dedicated to maintaining my intergenerational friendships.  I want to know those who come before and after me.  I want to learn and I want to teach - and not just learn from my elders and teach my youngers (although certainly that is a huge part of it), but the other way as well.

I am extremely aware of the gaps in my own knowledge of my cultural history.  As a trans person, as a queer man, as a Leather man... what do I know of my history?  I know a lot more than most people my age about my cultural history, but it's still not enough.

I don't want to lose people.  I don't want to lose history.  I want to know what it was like for people like me twenty years ago, fifty years ago, a hundred years ago.  I want to know my history.  I want to be able to share my history with those who come after me.

Unfortunately there are huge gaps for more reasons than just a lack of intergenerational friendships, but that's stuff I want to know too.  I remember sitting and listening to people talk about what it was like at the height of the AIDS crisis, to attend funeral after funeral, week after week.  I don't want to be shielded from those hard truths.  I want to know them.  I want to appreciate them.  I want to be aware of everything those before me have gone through.

I want to know my history.  I want to know your history.  I want to remember everything me and people like me go through.

And I want to remind you that things change.  I want to help you know that even though it seems like 'kids these days' don't care, they do.  They may care in a different way, but they still care.  We are redefining so much, the same way you did.  We are your heirs in more ways than one - we are like you.

Maybe that's why we frustrate each other, though.  Maybe our elders see themselves in us young people, and maybe us young people see people we may become in our elders - and in both directions, maybe it scares us a little bit.

But it shouldn't - it should be a good thing.  This is what community is, what it could be.

I don't want to be in a bubble of my own generation.  I want to know those who come before and after me.  I want to be a part of a history and be aware of that fact, I don't want to pretend that everyone before me is useless and everyone after me is stupid.

Intergenerational friendships are vital to me, because they show me that I am a part of something.  They help me acknowledge the cyclical nature of cultures and histories.  They help me learn more about my cultural past.  They help me look forward to my cultural future.

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