Watch A 78-Year-Old & A 13-Year-Old Discuss What It's Like Growing Up Gay

Photographed by Stephanie Gonot.
Just 50 years ago, homosexuality was illegal in the U.K., and one 78-year-old gay man named Percy lived through this era. In a video from the YouTube channel Trent & Luke called "Young, Gay, and Illegal — Then & Now," he tells a gay 13-year-old named Louis what that was like, Pink News reports.
Percy and Louis have several things in common: Both are in relationships with other men. And both were afraid when they first realized they were gay. "I was confused because I didn't know what it was at first," Louis says in the video. "I never knew there was such a thing as liking boys. I thought it was just me by myself." Once he became sure of it and told his parents, however, they were incredibly supportive.
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Percy's parents, on the other hand, were in denial. "I think you're so lucky that the world has changed and you can just be yourself," he told Louis. Of course, many people today still have Percy's experience. Two in five LGBTQ Americans say their community doesn't accept people like them, according to the Human Rights Campaign. But as Louis and Percy's stories show, things are in the process of changing.
One of the biggest differences between their lives is that Percy actually could've gotten arrested if he was caught with another guy growing up. "You had to be very careful because if you had a boyfriend or something and you were spending the night with him and the police would come knock on your door, and because you were in bed with him, they could charge you with a guilty offense," he said. "Sometimes it was quite exciting if you went to a gay club and you met somebody... it would be a wonderful evening, but there was also the thing of, 'what happens if you get caught?' ... You always had a slight suspicion that something could go wrong, so you were never 100% at ease."
After living through this time and seeing how much the world has changed, Percy offered some wisdom to Louis. "Be true to yourself," he said. "Stand up for being gay and for trying to make people understand that the most important thing is that you can love somebody and it doesn’t matter who they are. Whether it's a boy or a girl, love is love, and that's something which is enriching. And try to get people to think beyond their own immediate sphere so we can all be — I can't think of a better word — neighbors in the world."
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