Also, on a completely unrelated note, I have a question for anybody on this list who is young enough to have used the internet while living with their parents and not being out to their parents yet. My own parents did not get the internet until this summer, a few months after I moved out, so I never had to deal with this issue:
How do you prevent your parents from finding out that you visited queer sites? There are so many places that my computer keeps track of what I've visitedit lists the recent sites in a folder called "History," keeps copies of the recent sites in a folder called "Temporary Internet Files," and if I've typed a URL into the address bar then later if I type a URL that starts with the same letters it will automatically complete the address with the one I typed in before. The whole system gives parents so much power to find out what their kids have been looking at that I think if I'd had internet access on a shared computer both at home and at college I would have been careful to visit queer sites only on the college computer. But if I had been in high school instead of college this wouldn't have been an option, so I don't know what I would have done. I suppose I could have been very careful to erase all my tracks, but wouldn't it also look suspicious if every time I finished using the internet the "History" folder was mysteriously completely empty? And then there's also the issue of being watchedI remember how during my first year of college the only computer we had at home was in the middle of the living room and I typed queer paper after queer paper while looking over my shoulder between every half line to ward off my little brother who found it enjoyable to read over my shoulder. I had to keep twenty lines of extra space beneath everything I wrote to enable me to quickly scroll down and make the screen blank whenever I caught him looking. (Tell me, did this ever happen in the days of typewriters? Typewriters were probably not typically kept in the middle of the living roomsee, queer kids get less privacy with every generation!)
But the internet itself was not very popular yet back in the "old" days when I was in high school (1990-94) and I just plain didn't have any contact at all with any queers at all (no queers who I knew to be queer, that is) for the first two years after I turned queer. I think if the internet had been available I wouldn't have had to wait anywhere near as long to meet other queers, yet the risk of being discovered would have been higher. Although actually, I got discovered as it was and just lied my way out of it, so I suppose I would have done the same thing. But I also wonder a little bit whether getting in contact with other queers right away is entirely a good thingI know that my own initial reaction upon finally meeting other queers was disappointment because the few that I met at first did not seem to have much in common with me. On the internet you're not restricted to meeting only a few at a time, but I'm still not sure how easy it is at first to find the ones who have much in common with you.
I think that as a service to teenage queers, some queer programmer somewhere should invent a simple program which will automatically delete all the clues about what you've visted lately with a simple one-click "delete" button, and will replace them all with whatever URLs you've programmed it to always replace them with in order to prevent the "History" folder from looking suspiciously empty.