Monday, October 31, 2011

The (Perceived) Threat of Homosexuality

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of diagnosed mental disorders.


My mother and I were watching a (old) movie one day and during one of the previews Rosie O’Donnell came across the screen. “I used to like Rosie,” she says to me. “But I do not like her anymore. She married a woman. She is no good.” A hundred thoughts were running through my mind at that moment. I was enraged and disgusted that my own mother (who had given birth to such a liberal thinker) had such a negative, narrow, ignorant viewpoint of homosexuals. I wanted to know what Rosie marrying a woman had to do with her being “good” (here “good” is pertaining to morals). Did her character count for nothing? And I wanted to ask her what she would think of me (and do to me) if I told her I was a lesbian or a bisexual. I kept all of these thoughts to myself though. Talking with my mother and getting her to let go (for a few minutes) of her constricting viewpoints courtesy of a strict Christian upbringing in a Caribbean culture is equivalent to teaching a rock how to talk (it just ain’t gone happen).

My mother shares the same negative sentiments on homosexuality like most people who think that it is either a sin or inappropriate, especially Christian African-Americans. In the African-American community, homosexuality is not at all accepted; it is unnatural; it is a “white” disease (Corvino, 1997; Collins, 2004). Homosexuality carries such a negative stigma that one would be better off being a woman-beater instead (no, I am not joking). You would think that homosexuals were practicing bestiality or something. How many times have you heard the phrase, “God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve”? Who was the great mind behind that contribution to society? This clever reference to the Bible is tired and does not hold up if one is not going to follow other admonitions from the text. The Bible clearly condemns eating pork and coming into contact at all with the flesh of pigs...yet pork remains a popular meat on American dinner tables (Leviticus 11:7-8; Corvino, 1997). Pick what works for you and forget about the rest.

People possess misconceptions about sexuality and believe that women and men were created exclusively to be together. I will not deny that the female and male body does fit quite nicely together like a puzzle. And it is fact that women and men need each other in order to procreate, but some suggest that may be all. Hogue posits that “socialization, rather than biologically innate preferences, is the pivotal force in the formation of sexuality” (2003, p. 202). In A Gay Manifesto, Carl Wittman says, “Nature leaves undefined the object of sexual desire. The gender of that object is imposed socially” (Blasius & Phelan, 1997, p. 380). Even people who are heterosexual are said to have homosexual feelings at an unconscious level and they cope with these unwanted feelings by attacking others who express the same feelings openly (Griffin, Wirth & Wirth, 1996). Sexual energy is not gender specific. Patriarchy (that damn word just keeps showing up in my writing!) is what places constraints on sexuality to the point of oppression if one decide to step outside of those boundaries.

Sexual orientation is merely a preference that is left to the person to decide. What would happen if none of us were taught that we were supposed to be attracted to the opposite sex and there were no negative stigma associated with same sex unions? From the moment we are born we are conditioned to be heterosexual beings with specific gender roles. Female infants are dressed in pink (deemed a feminine color) clothing, while male infants are dress in blue (deemed a masculine color) clothing. Female toddlers are given dolls, tea sets, and teddy bears to play with (even if they prefer to play with a toy truck), while male infants are given toy trucks, toy guns and building blocks to play with (Goddess forbid they should show any interest in a doll...unless they are going to destroy it, which everyone thinks is so damn cute).

Homophobia has people some people thinking that homosexuality is like the flu: If you hang around a gay man or lesbian long enough, then you will become a homosexual as well through exposure to the culture (it’s 2011 and you’d think that niggas would know betta *in my J. Cole voice*). I wonder if there is a shot for it, too. Homophobes avoid contact with gays and lesbians and anything associated with homosexuality (Griffin, Wirth & Wirth, 1996). If it were possible to become gay through exposure, then it would work the other way around as well. Homosexuals would become heterosexuals from spending time with their straight friends and family members. There is no evidence that being around a homosexual will render you one as well. If by any chance that it does happen...well then perhaps you were just a closeted homosexual all along (bwahaha!).

Homosexuality is a direct threat to patriarchy not society. Gay men call into question everything that heterosexual men have been taught about masculinity (Griffin, Wirth & Wirth, 1996). Perhaps this is because homosexual male couples do not have clear gender roles. One study found that negative attitudes towards homosexuality were not so much because of the homosexual act in itself, but to the sex-role stereotypes associated with the act (Clinard & Meier, 2011). When it comes to gay male couples, one male has to be the submissive-womanly one, right (that shit ain’t manly dawg *grabs crotch*)? And in lesbian relationships, one female obviously has to be the dominant-manly...right (*scratches head in confusion*)? Then there are the exclusively lesbian women who insult men’s fragile ego because they do not accept men’s advances. However, bisexual women are a turn on for heterosexual men. A 2007 survey of 600 gay, bisexual, and transgendered middle schoolers by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educators Network, found that bisexual girls were the most popular in the school with the boys while homosexual males and exclusively lesbian females were not (Clinard & Meier, 2011). Hyprocritical much?

Nowhere is such hypocrisy more evident that in the hip-hop community. Hip-hop is full of anti-gay lyrics while rappers still fantasize about being with women who like to have sex with women...and it is no problem as long as those women still want to have sex with men. A line from rapper Eminem’s single ‘Criminal’ in 2000 went a little like this: “Whether you’re a fag or a lez, or the homosex, hermaph or a trans-vest, Pants or dress- hate fags? The answer’s yes.” Jamaican rapper, Beenie Man, had lyrics in his song “Damn” that said: “Come to execute all the gays.” In the catchy 2006 single “Shoulder Lean,” Young Dro proudly stated: “My girl got a girlfriend.” Drake is forever rapping about how the girls he’s going to have sex with can bring their friends to join. Rapper 50 Cent claimed in an interview for a 2004 issue of Playboy that he does not like being around gay people (in other words: gay men)...but he does not mind being around lesbians [and bisexual women, duh!] (Harris, 2008).

What is even worse is that there are numerous claims that many of the rappers who spew anti-gay lyrics may be closeted homosexuals (remember what I said about heterosexuals having subconscious homosexual feelings and attacking others who express those feelings openly?). In his memoir, Hiding in Hip: On the Down Low in the Entertainment Industry—from Music to Hollywood, former Music Television (MTV) executive, Terrence Dean, reveals the double life that male celebrities lead. Unfortunately for us (and fortunately for the celebrities) Dean uses pseudonyms for the male celebrities he is talking about. You can use your imagination and have a lot of fun speculating who he’s talking about though. And all you have to do is visit MediaTakeout's site to find a scandalous story about a male celebrity who’s been caught partaking in suspicious (sexual) activities with other males (Chris Brown is a favorite target).

Speaking of males on the “down low,” the big issue is that they do not see themselves as homosexuals or even bisexuals (Ballard, 2001; Whitaker, 2001). They simply like to have sex with a man once in a while (girl, you know how it is). The danger comes in when these men who lead double lives go home to their unsuspecting wives/girlfriends after having unprotected sex, thereby helping to spread HIV/AIDS (as if women, especially black women, don’t have enough to worry about). Men on the “down low” fear society’s reactions toward homosexuality and they fear the black community’s homophobia which causes them to keep their true sexual orientation a big secret (Ballard, 2001). Their whole marriage or relationship may be a farce to cover up their shame. They are the only ones who pose an actual threat, but only because they risk infecting their significant others with HIV by having unprotected sex outside of their homes.

Homosexuality is not something to be ashamed of; shame on the rest of society for making homosexuals feel that way. Homosexuals are not a threat to society, their morals and family values. The low-quality education system is a threat to society. The love of money and power over people is a threat to society’s morals. Male aggression and the lack of love in the home is a threat to the family. A person whose life is full of happiness and able to express themselves freely without fear is a benefit to society. If being a homosexual is part of that equation, then so be it. Last time I checked America was the land of the free (free—as long as you conform to what is deemed as acceptable and appropriate).

References

Ballard, S. R. (2001, Jul.). Why AIDS is rising among black women. Jet 100(6), 32-35.

Blasius, M., & Phelan, S. (Eds.). (1997). Gay liberation and lesbian-feminism. In We Are Everywhere: A Historical Sourcebook in Gay and Lesbian Politics (pp. 367-562). London, England: Routledge.

Clinard, M. B., & Meier, R. F. (2011). Gays, lesbians, and homophobia. In Sociology of Deviant Behavior (14th ed., pp. 381-432).

Collins, P. H. (2004). Prisons for our bodies, closets for our minds: Racism, heterosexism, and black sexuality. In Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism (pp. 89-117). London, England: Routledge.

Corvino, J. (Ed.). (1997). Why shouldn’t Tommy and Jim have sex?: A defense of homosexuality. In Same Sex (pp. 3-16). Lahman, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Griffin, C. W., Wirth, M. J., & Wirth, A. G. (1996). Religious thinking in transition. In Beyond Acceptance: Parents of Lesbians and Gays Talk About Their Experiences (pp. 59-88). New York City, New York: St. Martin Press.

Harris, P. (2008, May 10). Hidden gay life of macho hip hop stars. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2008/may/11/gayrights.usa

Hogue, W. L. (2003). Identity politics, sexual fluidity, and James Earl Hardy’s B-Boy Blues. In The African-American Male, Writing and Difference: A Polycentric Approach to African-American Literature, Criticism, and History (pp. 199-224). Albany, New York: State University New York Press.

Whitaker, Charles. (2001, June). The shocking truth about the AIDS epidemic in black america. Ebony 56(8), 134-138.

0 comments:

Post a Comment