What Do You Meme I’m Old?
First, fellow luddites, do you know what a meme is? I needed it explained to me long after I should have known what it was, so I suspect there are folks reading this who have no idea.
According to Facebook, a meme is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads, person to person, within a culture—like gifs (moving memes), jokes, or continuing transmissions over the internet of a certain theme. On Facebook, one of my favorites was the photo of former President Obama with his VP Joe Biden, laughing. People online invented hundreds of captions for it, and a meme was born.
These days, there’s a really fun meme going around in answer to the question “How old are you?”
The response might be “I’m a pack of Camels for 35 cents old,” or “I’m the flash bulb didn’t go off old,” or my recent favorite, “I’m tin foil on the TV antenna old.”
I’m Encyclopedia Britannica with a payment plan old.
I’m party-line phone old.
I’m getting a color tv old.
I’m Gilligan’s Island in prime time old.
And I’m Annette Funicello and Mickey Mouse Club old.
And just as I was smiling at this online nostalgia meme, I got a CNN alert on my phone that our White House emperor without clothes had just come out against the Equality Act which, in a historic first, just passed in the House of Representatives.
It’s the legislation banning discrimination against LGBTQs based purely on who we are. Such a simple idea. Protect us from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, federal funding, and the jury system. Actual equality.
But alas, it will almost certainly not pass in the Senate. And while it’s by no means a surprise that the grand poobah is against equality for us, it’s increasingly scary. I remember the bad old days our government wants to bring back.
I’m you could go to jail for just being gay old.
I’m don’t dare come out at the office old.
I’m you could get killed for holding hands in public old.
I’m gay bars only in bad neighborhoods old.
In fact, I became legal drinking age on June 29, 1969, just 24 hours after the first bottle was thrown at the Stonewall Inn riots, a half century ago. While the four nights of rioting continued downtown in Greenwich Village, I spent that birthday uptown, reading in the New York Times about Judy Garland’s funeral the day before and then going to see a Broadway show that night. I also remember seeing a tiny, snarky article in the New York Daily News about homosexuals rioting in the Village. The headline was “Homo Nest Raided—Queen Bees Stinging Mad.” I honestly don’t remember what I thought of that homophobic blather.
I did not yet understand or admit to myself I was a homosexual or know I would someday claim that riot and rebellion downtown as part of my history.
Which is why my friend Mike Gilles and I put together a show called Voices from Stonewall, to be performed June 22 at the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center. We felt the need to celebrate those brave gay kids, drag queens, and butch lesbians, diverse in color and gender expression, who had the guts to fight back that night. They fueled the revolution that was already brewing in Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York, and Washington, DC.
And as we celebrate them, we are being reminded daily about the fragile nature of our advances and how easily our rights, including marriage equality, can be taken away again. The phrase “settled law” does not seem to resonate with the current Supreme Court.
I want to absorb the feisty courage and determination of the Stonewall class of ’69 and let their words and actions energize me.
Yes, I’m Stonewall old.
I’m March on Washington ’79, ’87, ’93, 2000 old.
I’m take to the streets old, but not too old to do it again. ▼
Fay Jacobs is an author of five published memoirs. Her newest is Fried & Convicted: Rehoboth Beach Uncorked. As a humorist, she’s touring with her show Aging Gracelessly: 50 Shades of Fay.