Wednesday, September 10, 2008

THE ASSERTION OF CHOOSING TO BE GAY IS NO "JOKE"

The danger of reinforcing the false stereotypes by such utterances as that made by Kylie Minogue can never be minimized.

"Kylie Minogue has considered becoming a lesbian." Speaking of the late actress Talullah Bankhead, Minogue is quoted as saying, "I'd go gay for her." "..God knows I can't get a man - so maybe I should cross over."

Whether she was "joking" or not, her making such statements reinforces in the minds of homophobes that being Gay is a choice, and that one can either be with a man or a woman, and if one makes "the wrong choice" he or she is a "sinner," and/or a deviant who does not deserve equal civil rights.

The distorting frivolity evidenced in Minogue's reported statements, coupled with the apolitical frivolity and/or stance by all too many Gay people, who have translated the ground breaking work of a Barbara Gittings, a Troy Perry, a Frank Kameny, and so many other LGBT rights activists in the 1950's to the 1980's into the frivolous perversion of these and other such heroes' lives and work into the Alice in Wonderland "right" to use hateful epithets as self-identifiers; celebratory events that for the life of me I can't see what's being "celebrated," save for satisfaction with second-class citizenship, bereft of dignity and equal rights; being grateful for mere crumbs of incrementalism, so that the pathetic outcome is that even the very mention of "Gay" in Obama's nomination acceptance speech [Even though Obama has stated from the outset that he is against same-sex marriage.] causes great optimism among Gay people who should certainly know better.

As long as frivolity and apolitical positions are taken by LGBT people; as long as there is a settling for crumbs of incrementalism and mere rhetorical acknowledgment by politicians who care nothing about Gay people but in merely getting their votes; as long as people are more concerned about such "issues" as the lifestyles of other Gay entertainers rather than spend that energy caring about and actively working to get full and equal rights; as long as the demand for dignity by LGBT people is put on the back burner by LGBT people themselves, the more we can be sure that no significant movement toward acquiring full and equal civil rights will occur in the foreseeable future.

Indeed, for a Kiley Minogue, whether or not she was "joking," to explicitly state that she might become Gay because she says she "can't get a man," or because she says she fantasizes about Tallulah Bankhead, seriously demeans and trivializes the sufferings of countless Gay people at the hands of homophobes who have incessantly chanted that same mantra that "homosexuality is a choice"; have thereby, through the inundation of their ignorant and hateful messages, reinforced the hate of others, and have hitherto prevented many otherwise intelligent and decent people from becoming potential allies.

Whether Minogue was "joking" or not, it's absolutely no joke, as so many lives have been hurt and even ruined because of the fiction that such possible "jokes" have helped reinforce by facilitating the work of homophobes who, especially with the very possible ascendancy of McCain and Palin to the Executive Office, will likely be able to make homophobia even more popular in terms of its expression in the culture, and in the consequent climate of hate, even including the possible removal of some of the few civil rights for LGBT people that currently exist.
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2 comments:

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

Jerry,

Kylie Minogue was almost certainly joking, but you're right: those kinds of jokes appear in the context of a society that doesn't understand what Gay identity really is. There's also the context of Gay people (or allegedly Gay people) deliberately trying to confuse the issue by claiming sexual orientation is "fluid". In Sweet Tea, the book about Southern Black Gay men that I'm currently reading, the author seems to think that Gay, bisexual, transgender and "queer" are interchangeable terms. Patrick Johnson wants his readers to believe that he and other men can feel sexual attraction to women and still be Gay. His ludicrous stance and Kylie Minogue's little joke feed into the fiction perpetrated by "ex-Gay" advocates that LGBT folk are actually Straight, and that their orientation is a matter of choice. And, indeed, a significant number of "radical queers" (Tristan Taormino comes to mind) support this fiction wholeheartedly. Odd, how the bigots and the radicals end up on the same page, isn't it?

Jerry Maneker said...

Thanks for your comment, Don Charles. "Odd, how the bigots and the radicals end up on the same page, isn't it?"

As long as all too many Gay people allow the psychic damage placed upon them by others, be they parents, teachers, peers, politicians, or clergy, to continually influence their lives to the point where they deny the authenticity of their identities, and buy into the definitions of reality of those homophobic others, it's to that degree that they are "on the same page" as the homophobes.

As was realized by the late author, Chester Himes, when he discussed the Black experience in America, the fight must be waged on two fronts: fighting against the power structure so that full and equal civil rights are realized; overcoming the psychic damage done to so many Black and, in this context, Gay people, that is inhibiting so many from meaningful activism toward demanding the dignity due every human being, and making possible the successful fight for equal rights.

Only when this latter fight is won, when inculcated shame and self-loathing are overcome, will meaningful political and social activism become a reality and the acquisition of full and equal civil and sacramental rights will become a reality.