The New 60

BY Robert Levithan

February 07 2011 8:05 PM ET

The moment I realized I was gay, I also realized that I was going to get to make my life up. If I wasn’t going to lead the life I was raised to live, let my new life be a creative opportunity.

I also grew up in an era when the best things about being gay were that you didn't have to serve in the army (provided you were courageous enough to be out) and you didn't have to get married. I find I am gaining my rights, but am I losing my privileges in the process?

The phenomenon of the first baby boomers turning 65, my oldest brother among them, has me examining my generational heritage. As an activist, I am thrilled by the coming end of "don't ask, don't tell," and I cheer whenever a state grants marriage rights. However, as a hippie generation Vietnam War protester, I am perplexed by how traditional this all seems.

Actually, I'd like to see the end of marriage: Civil unions for all who want them — marriage as a religious or social rite. And, as to the military, I know it sounds pie in the sky and more than a bit naive, but I'd like to place metaphoric daisies in all the rifles and refocus on slogans such as "War Is Unhealthy for Children and Other Living Things!"

Our economy is top-heavy with military expenditures and underweighted toward art, nature, education, and their intersection. If Brazil and so many European nations, for example, can see arts funding as vital, then so can we. When I sold a house years ago and had $30,000 in capital gains tax, I despaired that I was possibly paying for one tire on a fighter plane. If I could have fed children or underwritten chamber music for toddlers, I'd have written that check with joy. I am one of those people who wouldn’t mind paying taxes if I could earmark my giving. Therefore I use every loophole available and give money to works that make my heart sing: Friends in Deed, the Trevor Project, Doctors Without Borders, the Nature Conservatory, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Lambda Legal, to name a few.







Tags: Health

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