Monday, May 16, 2005

Gay Bashing: the new public face of bigotry.

Frank Rich has an interesting new article on the crazy right's trouble with all the homo's getting yanked out of their woodwork. I want to consider the overall phenomenon and two passages specifically:

Just How Gay Is the Right? - New York Times: "Today's judge-bashing firebrands often say that it isn't homosexuality per se that riles them, only the potential legalization of same-sex marriage by the courts. That's a sham. These people have been attacking gay people since well before Massachusetts judges took up the issue of marriage, Vermont legalized civil unions or Gavin Newsom was in grade school."


"Those were the dark ages, but it isn't entirely progress that we now have a wider war on gay people, thinly disguised as a debate over the filibuster, cloaked in religion..."

First, what's up with all the homos who are running down other gay people and gay rights in general, like ken melman or jeff guckertt (or what ever the hell his name is)? Two things:

When you don't like something about yourself you try to change it. If you are taught that it is a mortal sin, or that you are evil because of it, you try one or a combination of two things (leaving out the third option of understanding it and reorienting you assumptions about it), repressing it or destroying it.

1) Repression

Learning to control and channel biological urges in a contructive and healthy way is something we all have to do; you don't just let everything you feel take over or you are going to end up in an unhappy place, but on the flip side of that, if you try to just deny biological urges completely or deny their existence, then you are going to end up a basket case or a monster. Just look what has happened with so many Catholic priests over the last several hundred years. Not that a man can't be celibate and serve the Lord, but that not every man can and ask any gay person you know with a traditional Catholic mother what she said when he came out or got caught with another boy: join the clergy and forget about sex. But it doesn't work that way and the Catholic church will be paying for it for years to come. But not every repression is as complete as that or has as severe consequences. Most gay men (not just gay-identifying men, but men who have sex with men) either speak very little about their sex life or compartmentalize it completely. The quiet ones are the ones who just learn to be vague and switch pronouns or never speak of romantic interest. They take the asexual public-persona route and may or may not be known to be gay, but it isn't spoken of.

The double-lifers are a little more difficult. They have wives and kids or girlfriends, and then sleep with guys on the side. Much has been made of the whole 'down-low' thing, but the assertion that it is a uniquely black/latino phenomenon is ridiculous. Anyone who believes that is plain stupid. There may be a difference in how these demographics (black urban/white rural-suburban) play out their publicly disavowed sexual desires, but both groups are out there screwing other men and lying to their wives/girlfriends/families about it.

2) Destruction

Then there is the inclination to destroy it. The more honest among us kill themselves. When they believe the lies that they have been told, that homosexuality is an abomination and that they are the lowest of the low and unlovable by God or others, and they recognise honestly that this isn't just a phase they are going through and that they aren't one day going to meet the right girl who will change them or the hobby or political cause with can keep their mind off of sex, they take the logical step: destroy this evil. And they begin and end with themselves.

The dishonest and selfish try to destroy it in other people. They keep their families and they keep their gay sex and they keep it divorced from public acknowledgement and scrutiny and they try to destroy other gay people and the opportunity for gay people to have sex. It can be very direct, like Billy Jack Gaither getting brutally murdered by an alleged ex-lover. Taking it all out on someone else and destroying what you can't stand about yourself by destroying someone else who you recognize it in. Or it can be less personal and still violent: taking a baseball bat to some random gay kid or throwing rocks at a passing car with rainbow stickers. But with gay folks taking a more prominent position in the public eye, we have a new beast, those homos who want to destroy public reference to gay life to protect their secret life. This is particularly suited to the republican closet cases: they have their money, their power, their position, their families, AND their gay sex and they want to keep all of it secure. The problem isn't that they want to keep gay people from having sex, in fact it is the opposite: every gay man who is out of the closet and publicly acknowledging his homosexuality is one more man who won't be getting fucked by (or fucking) him. Because when your sexuality ceases to be this intensely private thing, divorced from the rest of your life, it is no longer just about the sex and you aren't going to settle for the fucker who just wants you to come in his mouth and then pretend like you don't know him so he can run back to his wife. You are going to have to deal with public scrutiny to what you do and you start to concider emotions a part of sex and it all becomes less two-dimensional.

When everyone knows someone gay and everyone knows there are gay people out there and starts to wonder if there are any in their neighborhood, it gets harder to have those 'special' friends and not have your wife get suspicious. So these selfish fuckers decide that they are going to just try and make sure being gay continues being treated as criminal and continues to be a subject too crude to be discussed. If you can keep the general public against it being visible, then staying invisible in your double life is much, much easier.

And to my second big point (which I will try to keep shorter) which concerns the excerpts from the article: with the exception of the above mentioned groups, it isn't just about homosexuality. It certainly isn't just about gay marriage or religion either, the attack on homosexuality is just the currently acceptable outlet for popular bigotry. The public expression of racism isn't considered really acceptable right now and the popular line on racism is that it is a problem of the past. This is horse-shit, but you go on tv and talk about blacks as being more morally depraved than white people or that if black and white people were allowed to get married that next you would have people marrying dogs and box turtles and see how long it would take for every member of the Kool Kids Klub to denounce you and shove you out of sight. Where I am from in Alabama every damn redneck starts off every racist statement with a disclaimer, "I'm not racist, but..." Actually, so do the racists here in New York, but there are more people here and I can usually choose who to be around so I don't have to bother with people who offend me quite as much. Sometimes the bigots will say the same shit about gaybashing ("I'm not homophobic, but..."), but often times they won't even bother ("Hell yeah I'm homophobic; I don't want queers around my kids!"). You can introduce a bill into congress saying that gay people matter less to the law in a way that it is harder to do with regard to people of color, so we are were the bigots are focusing their attention now.

But it isn't just about being gay, it is about dissillusionment and shirking of responsibility. It is about someone to blame. The people for whom life isn't going as well as they wish it were want someone to blame. They would prefer an easy target and someone weaker than them so they can have their cathartic lashing out without risking too much themselves. And the powers that be are eager to deliver. Black people and poor people are perennial favorites, but the recent rise to prominence of gay people in the national consiousness has made us the new big target and fundraiser bogey man. Locally, colored folks are still getting the short end of a lot of sticks and given more hoops to jump through, but you can't say that on television. So you need a new scary scape-goat: the faggot/dyke. Bigot preachers can still go on the radio and say gay people are more depraved and should be shunned. Politicians can say that our jobs shouldn't be protected from a boss's prejudices. They can say we aren't fit to adopt children, to teach in schools, to live in their communities, to be protected by the law. They can say this on national TV! Don't for a second think they wouldn't be saying the same things about black people if they could get away with it (look at how Middle Eastern people are often characterized in the media). The used to and they wish they could again.

Because the greedy fuckers at the top growing fat on corporate welfare and screwing over the rest of us need someone to identify as a public enemy to keep eyes off them. So we get the war on drugs and the war on tara and the war on fags and the war on Darwin. And the miserable greedy bastards in the religious right are more than happy to oblige because it buys them entry in to this class (in the cases of a few top dogs) or they can profit off these popular bigotries. Just listen to the american family radio network or focus on the family when they are having a fund drive. If you hear them mention the need for more funds, you may be very sure that you will be hearing a lot about homosexuality in their programming for a while. And the war on drugs has never been about the realities surrounding drugs on any but the local level and often not on that. It is an excuse to arrest black people and trouble causing students and poor people. It is an excuse to interfere in Central and South American governments.

These bastards hate gay people, but it is a symptom of a larger plague: the blame of others for their miserable lot and their exlusion from some fictional past paradise which they should have inherited. They hate. Period. Homos are just the group they are allowed to publically bash without having to really veil the bigotry too much.

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