Posts Tagged ‘gay rights’

UPDATE: apparently The Spectator got it wrong and Nero has NOT been nominated for what they call ‘bigot of the year’. I am leaving this up though as others have called him a homophobe (and me). And as I don’t trust Stonewall!

http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/steerpike/2012/07/homophobe-of-the-year/

According to The Spectator, Stonewall have nominated Milo Yiannopoulus, who tweets as  @Nero, as ‘homophobe of the year 2012’. Apart from the questionable ethics and purpose of holding such a competition in the first place, I think their nomination is stupid and actually pretty cruel.

Sharp witted readers will remember that I have criticised Nero in the past, for his slag-off of Johann Hari‘s adventures as a porn writer. 50 Shades of Gay might not have been the bonkbuster of the year, but I support people’s right to express their sexualities and opinions. Even Johann the Librarian.

And that is why I am defending Milos now. He is openly homosexual, and openly opinionated for example against the principles and practicalities of gay marriage. Stonewall’s conformist gay politics mean that to challenge the sanctity of gay marriage is to be homophobic, even if, as Milos is, you are gay yourself.

This is just replacing one fault, one wrong, with another! Picking on individuals who disagree with you, who live their lives in a way you don’t endorse, in a way you don’t understand, is what ‘anti gay’ ‘bigots’ do!

As gay academic Mark Mccormack has written, now that LGBT sexualities are more normalised in our society, the stigma has shifted. Being labelled ‘homophobic’ is actually as socially unacceptable as being homosexual was only decades ago. And adding to that stigma with ‘homophobe of the year’ competitions may not be such a cool move.

There are also issues here around  freedom of expression. Writing in the Guardian recently Suzanne Moore pointed out:

‘The terms “misogyny”, “anti-semitism” and “homophobia” may be useful but too often are used to shut down rather than open up online debate. This is why free speech is so difficult. ‘

So Stonewall’s nomination of a gay man who has spoken out against gay marriage as ‘homophobe of the year’ could be seen as an attempt to devalue that position, and to shut up people who hold it. Gay, straight whatever.

But the fact Milos identifies as gay/homosexual himself makes this a particularly sour tale. To start making examples of ‘your own’ and attempting to shame them in public seems pretty low.

Some gays oppose gay marriage, Stonewall. Get Over It.

http://www.mediaite.com/tv/tearful-andrew-sullivan-praises-obama-father-figure-saying-im-fully-a-part-of-this-family/

You can’t have failed to have heard the news. Obama, who originally took a firm stance against gay marriage, preferring the traditional view that marriage is between a man and a woman, has done a U-turn. His recent statement in favour of equal marriage has sent teh gayz into spasms of emotion similar to a reanactment of Torch Song Trilogy.

Andrew Sullivan, who has also done some U-turns in his life, as he used to be a Republican but now is all over poor Barack, said, choking back the tears:

‘I do not know how orchestrated this was; and I do not know how calculated it is. What I know is that, absorbing the news, I was uncharacteristically at a loss for words for a while, didn’t know what to write, and,… there are tears in my eyes.

So let me simply say: I think of all the gay kids out there who now know they have their president on their side. I think of Maurice Sendak, who just died, whose decades-long relationship was never given the respect it deserved. I think of the centuries and decades in which gay people found it impossible to believe that marriage and inclusion in their own families was possible for them, so crushed were they by the weight of social and religious pressure. I think of all those in the plague years shut out of hospital rooms, thrown out of apartments, written out of wills, treated like human garbage because they loved another human being. I think of Frank Kameny. I think of the gay parents who now feel their president is behind their sacrifices and their love for their children.’

I think the ‘gay lobby’ and their media supporters have been very clever here. It looks to me as if Obama didn’t have much choice. The tide of opinion was growing in favour of gay marriage. To continue to oppose it would have lost him votes. But his basic political manoeuvre has been adopted and appropriated and turned into a huge victory for the gay rights lobby.

Not only that, they have transformed Obama from a quite cautious, traditional family man into ‘THE FIRST GAY PRESIDENT’! The photo of him on the Newsweek cover with a rainbow halo is nothing if not striking, and… gay. The conflict with Obama has been buried in a pile of rainbow dust and everyone is happy…and gay.

But I notice a few problems with this gay rhetoric. One of course is that speeches such as Andrew Sullivan’s above privilege ‘gay’ people and the ‘gay’ identity over all other minority gender and sexuality identities. If you are bisexual, or trans, where do you fit in to this big gay festival? Trans people’s rights are not prioritised in America. Murders and violence against trans people happen at a far higher rate than the ‘gays’ would care to mention. And some gay people are as transphobic – and biphobic – as any straight ‘homophobe’.

The second thing I notice is Sullivan, and Newsweek, are tying the knot with Obama in a quite sickly way. It is as if ‘gay’ politics are the only politics in the world. What about Obama’s healthcare policies? What about foreign policy? That is all swept aside for the Big Issue – gay marriage. The way Sullivan suddenly decides he is part of Obama’s ‘family’ is comical. As if now things such as ethnicity and racism play no part in American society (or indeed in gay politics which can be racist). They are all one big happy family, bro!

Indeed racial analogies have been used by gays in their campaigns for gay marriage a lot. The ‘back seat on the bus’ metaphor has been doing the rounds for a while, as has the references to ‘apartheid’. (click on image to enlarge)

http://www.queerty.com/newsweek-obama-americas-first-gay-president-20120513/

I think it’s pretty grim to be honest. And Obama may well be feeling a bit pressured by this group of white, middle class liberals (the gays and their allies), to perform to their tune. When he also has to woo black voters, republican voters, and… yes, homophobic voters! As I have said before the right have caricatured Obama as the metrosexual president and this latest move will have only made matters worse from their point of view. I would not want to be in Obama’s rainbow coloured shoes just now.

*
One person who is keeping rather quiet about this turn of events is [redacted]. He has been vocal against gay marriage, though he seems to have softened a bit recently (not to the extent of Obama though). Back in 2008 [redacted] suggested that the gay marriage campaigns in America were ‘on the rocks’ so it could be that he just doesn’t want to admit that he has been proven wrong. Or at least that times have changed. Also there are some ‘gay politics’ going on in the UK that even I don’t understand. Maybe [redacted] has some juggling to do as well as Obama.

Me, I don’t welcome the news from the States. But I am not going to lose sleep over it either. I would celebrate with my ‘bros’ if Obama closed Guantanamo like he said he would. But I don’t think I have Andrew Sullivan or many liberal white gays on my side there.

A recent New York Times interview with Sex In The City star Cynthia Nixon, has caused a bit of a furore amongst mainly American gays. I first read about the story in Queerty, which is itself a VERY gay website. But I appreciated them running  it, and quoting Nixon at length and opening up the discussion to the commenters below the line.

Other publications/individuals have not been so generous, and have railed at Ms Nixon for what? For having the audacity to suggest she has some agency in her sex life and her love life? How very dare she!

One of the main criticisms from Teh Gays about Nixon’s statement is that she is playing into the hands of the religious right in America who claim homosexuality is unnatural, against God, and a sinful ‘choice’. One supergay article suggests:

‘she needs to learn how to choose her words better, because she just fell into a right-wing trap, willingly.  When the religious right says it’s a choice, they mean you quite literally choose your sexual orientation, you can change it at will, and that’s bull.’

http://gay.americablog.com/2012/01/dear-cynthix-nixon-hurting-your-own.html

Another gayist piece states quite baldly:

‘ the issue here is not the legitimacy or source of an individual’s sexuality. It’s a question of strategy. ‘

http://www.readability.com/articles/lfxvzpqn

This concept of ‘strategy’ relates to a theoretical term called strategic essentialism.

‘The term was coined by the Indian literary critic and theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. It refers to a strategy that nationalities, ethnic groups or minority groups can use to present themselves. While strong differences may exist between members of these groups, and amongst themselves they engage in continuous debates, it is sometimes advantageous for them to temporarily ‘essentialize’ themselves and bring forward their group identity in a simplified way to achieve certain goals.’

I oppose ‘strategic essentialism’ because I think it fails in its own goal of uniting ‘oppressed’ groups who have a common ‘enemy’ or oppressor. It serves to privilege (yes I can use that word too) one group’s identity and needs over other, less powerful ones.

In the case of the backlash against Cynthia Nixon, it is clear to me that (usually white middle class and often male) gays are outraged that their worldview and their sense of self, and how they were born this way, is not being prioritised. If sexuality is, to some degree, a choice, as Cynthia says it is for her, (note she is not generalising about other people), then gays lose some of their ‘victim status’ as these poor, beleagured people who are forced to live under the shadow of the heterosexual dominant group.

One of the comments that I found most troubling was this one:

It seems to be suggesting that bisexual people ‘choose’ their sexuality but gay people don’t! Apart from this not even beginning to make sense at a ‘scientific’ level – how are bisexual people ‘made’ so that they have the ability to make choices and gays are not? – it is politically quite worrying. I think what it is really saying is that bisexual people are ‘liars’. If sexuality is innate then people who ‘choose’ to go against their ‘natural’ sexual orientation, be it straight or gay, are a) lying and b) oppressing the people who stay in their ‘natural’ boxes by making sexuality look like less of a destiny.

One of the comments by Nixon that stood out for me was this:

‘I also feel like people think I was walking around in a cloud and didn’t realize I was gay, which I find really offensive. I find it offensive to me, but I also find it offensive to all the men I’ve been out with.’

http://www.readability.com/articles/lfxvzpqn

My ex was/is bisexual. Though he rarely used that word to describe himself. Sometimes he took the Freudian label and called himself ‘polymorphously perverse’. And sometimes I have worried, since we broke up, that he might have ‘gone gay’. This has filled me with a sense of loss and rejection, because if he is now ‘gay’ then what does that say about our relationship that occurred (with some hiccups) over a period of over ten years?

I expect my ex doesn’t identify as gay, now. He was more Anti Gay than even the author of the book of that title. He taught me, long before I had heard of Steven Zeeland, that ‘sexual identity is a joke’.

But it’s not a very funny one. And I think people’s reactions to Cynthia’s open discussion about her own sexuality, are a sign of how we still haven’t reached ‘the end of sexuality’. Maybe one day, eh?

_______________________

 

The news has been full very recently of  Suicide , by boys and young men in America.

It is difficult to think of anything more sad than a young person taking his or her own life.

But these stories make me uneasy. About the media, about our attitudes to sexuality, and about the agendas of the gay rights movements, particularly in America at the moment.

Some pertinent Questions have been posed by Mr Fuck Theory on this issue. I respect him for challenging received wisdom about such a current, emotive subject, especially as he is based in the U.S.

I have a few (rhetorical) questions of my own.

Can we identify a boy of 13, categorically as ‘gay’, so early on in his sexual development?

Is his own self-identification as gay to do with his sexuality or how he has been treated by those around him?

Has anyone commented on the fact that he shot himself with his step-father’s gun, which was lying around in their own home?

By labelling these young men as ‘gay teen suicides’ are gay campaigners adding to the stigma of growing up with a sexuality that doesn’t fit the straight, hetero ‘norm’?

Has the media found a cluster of examples in order to make a story, when actually suicides by young men in particular are relatively common occurrences?

What is going on with this war of words between  Gay Rights   activists and The Christian Right ? And what does it have to do with these young men?

Can Dan Savage and  Andrew Sullivan and Joe My God get anymore sanctimonious?

When people say ‘Gay’, do they really mean white, male, middle class, liberal?

Is America a fucked-up place to grow up, no matter what your gender identity or sexual orientation?