'80s: We are two men who love each other in deep and ineffable ways and need some way to express this. Are we gay?
'90s: We are two gay or bisexual men who love each other in deep and ineffable ways and are pretty sure how to express this in private. Shall we come out?
'00s: We are two gay or bisexual men who love each other in deep and ineffable ways and are pretty sure how to express this. Are people going to accept our True Love, or will they bully us if we come out?
Unspoken but hopefully understood: the legal, social, mortal dangers of getting caught in the 70s and 80s, still the danger of coming out to the wrong person in the 90s (my own mother told me it wouldn't be a good idea if the wrong person heard I wasn't straight in the 90s), the certainty that there will be at least one jackass giving grief in the '00s despite protective laws. You can sometimes tell what decade someone grew up by how much of a big deal it is to even consider the feelings, consider one's basic orientation, consider coming out, consider letting a specific relationship be public knowledge.
This gets really surreal when I'm reading fic set in the mid-70s and the primary conflict is "but will people pick on us if we show our True Love" -- YES, it's the fucking *70s*, you could be BEATEN LEFT FOR DEAD RAPED AND MURDERED for being gay, and you're worried about HIGH SCHOOL HAZING?!