I'm currently re-reading the Foley-Mashburn saga by Brew Maxwell, which has prompted a few thoughts. I find it difficult to believe that it's now twenty years since it was posted in installments on Nifty! It was, in it's day, just magnificent - seven volumes of the life of a young gay couple and the group of adolescents they mentored and fostered. I'm really enjoying re-visiting it. It's still available on Nifty (author search Brew Maxwell, the series starts with "Tim"), and on crvboy, and probably elsewhere.
The thing is, though, it now strikes me as being "of its time". There's a caution about being out that feels a bit uncomfortable ... at least, to me, now, living in England, and where my nephew and nieces (now all grown up) had many out LGBTQIA+ friends at school and University. And although the author took considerable pains to show kids from unpleasant or difficult circumstances being assimilated into the group, the ethos of it comes across now, with hindsight, as rather over-privileged.
I guess that one of the major benefits of the past decade or so is that we as gay men (it may be different for trans, non-binary and so on) are starting to have some degree of "freedom to fail". Back when I came out in 1980, one of the massive pressures on me was that so many of my friends and colleagues had never actually met an out gay man. There was a realisation that they'd judge "all gay men" by how they found me, and that gave rise to an enormous internal pressure to perform at work way beyond expectations or reasonable demands. In my case, it led to a collapse of my health and disability retirement at 50. We worked so hard at establishing that gay men could be very successful at the full range of ordinary jobs (ie not musical theatre or hairdressing, as were the stereotypes) that we kinda lost sight of the fact that we also can be just as unsuccessful, unmotivated, and just plain ordinary as anyone else is. Perhaps it was a necessary stage in building acceptance and our sexuality becoming unremarkable?
"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. ... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night devoid of stars." Martin Luther King