My grandad was born in 1890 and was in the Army during WW1. In 1970 or 71 the initial modern gay rights movement was in full swing and the word “queer” was being used in the media and of course kids were saying the word a lot even if we didn’t understand what it meant.
When my siblings and I would tell grandad goodnight we would often ask him questions about the old days. One night my older brother asked grandad if there were queers back when he was in the war. My grandad looked at my brother and said, “Queers? Queers. You mean funny boys? Oh, yes, we had funny boys. They didn’t bother us and we didn’t bother them.” He was describing the US Army in 1917.
Sometimes we think the various issues we grapple with as a society are unique to our time. But, when we’re lucky enough to visit with an elder about earlier times, inevitably we discover there is indeed nothing new under the sun.