I had never read any of the Beats' stuff until about a year ago, when a girlfriend recommended some, in particular The Dharma Bums. So I checked it and On the Road out of the library and read them both. I found myself agreeing with the ideals in these books, about freedom and chaos and spirituality and all that. I started reading everything I could find, "Howl," "BOMB," "This Is the Beat Generation," essays on the lives & works of Kerouac Ginsberg & Burroughs (who remain my favorites). With most of them, it's a combination of spiritual & philosophical ideals & adventure; with Burroughs it's almost completely adventure, but hey.
I noticed the sexisms and whatnot very quickly; but it didn't deter me. Because it was the ideal that I was in love with, not the reality.
I think literarily, the Beats Did do a lot of damage; for example, because people don't understand Ginsberg properly, many kids think they can just write down some words & call it poetry and think that it automatically has any value (I'm sorry; unless a bull shits a replica of David, or hell, even one of those modern sculptures, it's just bullshit). But for those who understand the Beat methods and why they are not to be imitated (because such imitation completely goes against the whole Beat ideal), the Beats inspired a lot of good, intelligent writers who might have never tried something a new way without reading Kerouac or Corso or Ginsberg or whoever.