Originally produced and broadcast by KQED for National Educational Television (NET) – the predecessor of WNET – and first aired on September 11th 1961, on KQED Ch.9. it includes discussions about sexual orientation from: Margaret Mead (anthropologist, pictured aboved); Dr. Karl Bowman (former President of the American Psychiatric Association); Harold Call, Donald Lucas and Les Fisher of the Mattachine Society;
“We think the swish, or the queen, represents a small minority within the homosexual grouping,” Call states. “These people in most cases are not even liked by their homosexual brethren because they have perhaps rejected themselves and they feel society has rejected them.”
Harold Call calls for a change in laws and restrictions that put the lives and livelihood of gay people in danger, while Lucas emphasized the number and ubiquity of homosexuals living in America, not just clustered within large cities.
But it’s Call’s closing remarks that resonate most deeply:
“The homosexual is no different than anyone else except perhaps in his choice of a love object. He desires the same kind of right to live his life freely and without interference, to pursue his happiness as a responsible citizen and to receive the benefits of constitutional rights, due process and protection of the law that all of us enjoy.”
The documentary also includes: San Francisco District Attorney Thomas Lynch; Dr. Erwin Braff (Director of San Francisco’s Bureau for Disease Control; Al Bendich; Mr J. Albert Hutchinson and Mr. Morris Lowenthal (who engage in debate); Bishop James Pike and Rabbi Alvin Fine.
This documentary was written by John Reavis Jr., produced by Reavis Jr. and Irving Saraf, directed by Dick Christian, with location photography by Philip Greene.
This copy of The Rejected was lost for many years and has been restored as much as it could. The Library of Congress states that there were several problems with the edited 2-inch quad videotape master. Many different tape stocks were used to create this program and the quality of these was often poor. The base of the tape is slippery at times, which causes an unstable control track. The stock was also physically heavy, which causes tension during take up. The audio quality is consistent throughout but there are three extended sequences – noted onscreen by subtitles – which feature bad picture quality. The Library’s Recording Laboratory remastered these 2-inch tapes onto digital.
On November 27, 2018 at 7 pm slain gay civil-rights rights icon Harvey Milk will be remembered with a candlelight walk from the plaza named for Milk to City Hall, where he was assassinated by SF Supervisor Dan White 40 years ago.
The candlelight walk is being organized by the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and will echo the spontaneous march of thousands that took place in the city after the murders,
“In November of 1978, bookending the Thanksgiving holiday, the city of San Francisco and, it might be said, the world was changed forever. The double horror of the tragedy at Jonestown, followed by the slaying of Harvey Milk and George Moscone was a crushing trauma to the heart and soul of San Francisco, and yet in that darkness we rose together in candlelight not only to remember those we had lost but to strengthen and galvanize ourselves to give them voice to continue their fight and and vision for the future….In honor of that same eloquent response, the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club invites all to join us in quiet reflection from those who knew these great advocates of social justice at Harvey Milk Plaza. Following this, we will walk in candlelight to the steps of City Hall where current community leadership will echo their vision, just as those who were there did that warm November night in 1978.”
Back2Stonewall hopes that all who can attend will and remember Harvey Bernard Milk one of the greatest gay activist and legend of our times.
World famous Hersheypark amusement park which opened in 1907 and is located in Hershey, Pennsylvania, near the Hershey Chocolate Factory has released the following LGBT inclusive statement.
Via press release:
“Every year, the employees of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts (HE&R) welcome over 6 million guests from down the street and around the world. We recognize that the more perspectives we have within our company, the more welcoming we are to all those who visit and seek employment here. In fact, our company has four core values, one of which is “respectful of others,” which we define as treating all people with dignity, while respecting their differences and ideas.
“For decades, Hersheypark has been dedicated to the safety and security of our guest and employees. It is foundational to our brand. Additionally, the Park has and will always strive to accommodate all guests and employees – including members of the LGBT community – to ensure those visiting or working at Hersheypark are comfortable and feel secure. To that end, the Park will continue its practice of treating all guests and employees the same no matter race, ethnicity, sexual identity, etc. Guests and employees may continue to use the restrooms with which they gender-identify, or are welcome to use the many family restrooms available across the destination.
I’m sure the junior high level “Hershey” jokes on right-wing websites are going to be epic.
We are a community. We are diverse with our own styles music preferences and goals. We want to be treated as an individual being that has different aspirations and dreams and driving force that gets us out of bed each morning. We may not all engage in the same activities or have the same interests. We may not prefer to participate in activism or show up for Pride each year. We may not have any resemblance to what is referred to as a gay lifestyle. But we are still a community that shares a commonality that sets us apart from the rest of society.
Even though the word and meaning of community itself is used too broadly or has been pontificated too extensively we are all still members of a diverse community of men and women that share one commonality in that we are different than the rest of society. A difference that may take a lifetime to accept but once it happens, becomes a milestone of growth. So much of our time as activists and leaders is spent on eradicating this truth that we are different while advocating for equal rights to the point now that it’s laughable. Some of us have yet to understand that different doesn’t mean better or worse. Just different.
So while posters are made to illustrate how we all want families with the perfect spouse that precedes having perfect children and perfect careers and perfect lives, it completely omits the fact that we love having sex with other men. Numerous seminars and endless lecturers going across the country explaining that the reason we deserve the right to marry is because we are all the same when we aren’t. We are different than our straight counterparts and it’s an injustice to who we really are to argue otherwise. What we should be doing is showing how those differences should have no bearing on our rights as citizens of this country and how we should be celebrating these attributes rather than hiding them.
Those of you who’ve read my past assertions know this isn’t the first time I’ve spoken about embracing our differences because that is what brings real change in society. Real change does not happen by assimilating or replicating some notion of normality that closely emulates the rest of society. This is usually what I say when talking to some zealot that calls us sinners but today I’m reiterating this message for us as well. Because truthfully nothing aggravates and saddens me more than seeing fellow gay men who harbor on the perceived negative attributes of this community so much that they feel the need to separate themselves from it. Or even worse campaign against it. This is much more than a criticism or observation on how we need to improve. It’s outright contempt that leads to their own dissonance from this community and is so strong that they renounce their gay membership.
At some point some of us felt that in order to have all the rights as the rest of society meant that we have to distance ourselves from the people who are the most like us. So in turn you’ll see some that’ll place themselves on a pedestal while giving some wistful humorous sermon about how degrading gay culture is. They’ll haughtily laud about messy bottoms and the degrading obstacles to quench their thirst or tops who don’t know how to be a man all while projecting their obvious self-loathing on to everyone else.
They will only focus on the adventures in bathhouses with disdain or worse that they will disgustingly treat the men in our community living with HIV as if they’re lepers while making tacky, tasteless jokes. Sadly this behavior is not limited to those living with HIV. The apathy towards the transgender men and women in this community still astounds me to this day. The ardent disregard and dry puns while these men and women are being beaten and murdered with hardly any stringent federal laws to protect them. We even have so called LGBT leaders that dismiss their transphobia as being too sensitive.
Those leaders will start misguided campaigns all to increase their agency and once their hot button reaction has become apathetic they move on to their next object. All this while not listening to those who are in the trenches seeing the harsh realities every day rather than in suit and ties at a gala for celebrities that want to boost their image. They’ll constantly say how we need to better ourselves while all they do is bring nothing but their own negativity and bitterness. They are too jaded to give real constructive criticism on how to further enrich our community.
Sometimes wanting to distance oneself from the community is about the rejection from others within this community. Because when some of us feel so much pressure to fit into this mold of what we’re supposed to say or do that we feel lost and without a voice. As a result they feel there’s no other alternative than to completely distance themselves from anything they associate with being gay out of self-preservation and maintaining their sanity. It all becomes so overwhelming because they feel as though people will only see gay and nothing else.
It all saddens and frustrates me to no end. Each time I come across these men I challenge them to seek out more than what is so easily seen on the surface because I’ve learned that no matter how much you assert that you need distance from this community that you will always be a member. The more you insist that as a whole, we are nothing more than a bunch of hypersexualized drug addicts looking for the next conquest to fodder over on social media that you are still a member of this community. No matter how you’re not into the gay scene or whatever you entail that to be. No matter how disheartened by what you believe to be superficial or uncaring about this community you are still a member.
Just like I will always be an African American, no matter what it is a part of who I am. Sure I could distance myself as much as I want from rap and rhythm and blues and Afros and cornrows and dance moves like twerking or stereotypes like eating fried chicken or watermelon or any other cultural aspect that identifies me will never separate me from the truth that I will always be a black man and society will always remember that as well.
Because if I deny all that is associated with being an African American then I’m also denying the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King and Bayard Rustin and Rosa Parks. I’m missing out on learning more about the collective history and embracing a history rich with an aesthetic that instills survival and perseverance that taught me how to stand even when it seems meaningless. Observing it enables me to know how I want to be treated and how I choose to interact with others. This mindset helped me understand that simply submitting to my adversaries or their oppressive objectives leads to more oppression.
And the same goes for being gay. Distancing yourself from gays that go clubbing is like distancing yourself from those that stood up for their right, our right at Stonewall Inn so that you have the right to choose. Saying that you’re too good to associate with gays that are too effeminate or too girly is like saying you’re not really gay because wanting to be with another man is a feminine trait. It’s this type of self-hate that people who have the proclivity to renounce gay life that is so damning it rivals the bigots that make it their life mission to campaign against us. It’s counterproductive and it needs to end. You will always be gay and no amount of fitting in or assimilating or emulating or distancing from the rest of us is ever going to change that.
All of this I’m sure I’ve mentioned before but this installment is the result of talking to a guy I spoke with today that told me that he hates being gay because he is tired of being seen only as one big stereotype that society will never accept. And he’s even more disheartened by what he describes as the constant animosity he experiences within the gay community. The conversation knocked the wind out of me because he essentially disliked his identity and those associated with it so much that even with the unwavering support of his loved ones he hates being gay and hates himself. And it broke my heart a bit hearing him have such a hopeless resolve.
He expressed that he doesn’t feel like he has the freedom to truly embrace who he is without being judged as being too feminine or not manly enough. And when he does embrace those aspects of himself that men say his aren’t good enough for him and that men that do accept his “gayer” side that he encounters aren’t interested in anything outside of those stereotypes of sex and drugs. He went further on this point by saying he doesn’t have the perfect body so feels like he’s constantly being critiqued. So he feels that he has to distance himself from the rest of us because no one will ever see him as more than a stereotype. Naturally I sympathized with this sentiment as I myself felt animosity towards this community I was made to feel as though I’m a magical negro that’s only purpose was to fulfill any sexual desires of the men I slept with.
But I explained to him as I’m explaining to you all know that while the actions of others can detour you from wanting to associate with the community as a whole that you cannot let that stop you from seeking out meaningful friendships and relationships from this community. As I spoke my words became more passionate because while I understand where the urge comes from to show your individuality, giving up on finding something meaningful from other gay men does nothing. While I realize that the man I spoke with today may just have a general depressive affect men at this point of his life his sentiment is experienced by a lot of other gay men.
So in my opinion it’s imperative that we remember we are a community. Regardless of the circumstances of why you are in conflict this is still a part of you. Challenge yourself to see the diversity and be an active member of your own life that seeks out what relationships you want from other people. You can choose to give into believing that whatever you perceive to be superficial all that exists within this community and miss out or keep looking and asking. Never settle for what you see on that surface.
The Employee Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would provide federal protections to LGBT men and women so they cannot be fired because of their sexual orientation has unfortunately been at a literal standstill for years. Too often many democrats, including President Obama have made promises to help pass the bill so that many of us would have peace of mind. Now it appears that the bill is starting again and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the first openly LGBT politician to be elected in the US Senate, is willing and ready to do what’s necessary to get this bill passed, including reaching over partisan lines. Here’s more:
In a Thursday interview with The Huffington Post, she said a Democratic senator approached her earlier in the day to ask her to explain ENDA in more detail and clarify some of the provisions.
“I said, ‘Absolutely, we can sit down and do that anytime,'” said Baldwin. “I’ll be having those same conversations with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle too.”
Only three Democratic senators have not signed on to cosponsor ENDA: Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.). Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Mark Kirk (Ill.) are the only Republican senators supporting it so far.
The push in the Senate is being led by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who is the lead sponsor of the bill. He has been meeting one-on-one with his colleagues and having floor conversations between votes in an effort to get them to join him.
So far, Republicans haven’t shown much eagerness to back ENDA. Most seem to be either unaware of the legislation or concerned it will lead to excessive litigation against businesses and hurt religious organizations.
In response, Baldwin pointed to the fact so many states and localities have already passed non-discrimination ordinances, and they haven’t led to excessive litigation.
“In fact, often it’s provided the tools to work these [cases] out without having to resort to filing lawsuits,” she said. “When people learn, for example, that there is a law at the local level, that they’ve violated it, there’s often an effort to address the situation in many different ways. So we have examples we can point to to when someone says that the sky is falling. It’s not. The sky isn’t falling.”
It’s great to see Senator Baldwin ready to sit down and find common ground with the republican party and hopefully she will be able to find GOP members that are willing to stand for equality rather than discrimination. I’ve mentioned this before so again here’s my take: It’s not just President Obama that is at fault for dropping the ball on ENDA. It’s also some of the leaders in the LGBT community as well that campaigned only for marriage equality as they saw that is the issue that would have a more favorable outcome. We have been focused on marriage equality and same sex marriage and that is all we as a collective have been focused on as if we’re unable to multitask more than one cause at a time which isn’t true.
Look at where we are now, all the momentum that HRC and GLAAD could be using to galvanize this community after Prop 8 was overturned and section three of DOMA struck down has this community energized more than the 2012 election with almost as much on the line. But instead it appears that time and donations are being spent on making rainbow stickers for Facebook statuses. This tepid, tiptoeing around the other issues we face as a community have been one of the biggest things slowing us down. We need to be making it clear that there are still two DOMA statutes in place that need to be taken down so as I wrote about yesterday, our fight is nowhere near the finish line.
When are they going to use their platform to help organize rallies to help get the word out for LGBT and their families to contact their local and state democrats to do their job and asking them to fulfill the promises made on campaign trials and town hall meetings. They aren’t even showing any signs of implementing strategies for the 37 states where same sex marriage is illegal.
What about transgender rights and GENDA (Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act) so that they have the same protections all citizens of this country should have? We know the history of both these organizations with the transgender community with little to no progress in recent months other than featuring one transgender woman in a t-shirt campaign where we don’t even know where the proceeds will go to help, if they do at all. It’s easy to point fingers when you believe you’ve done something when in all honesty, adding to the complacency that this community is rife with and makes those that are working overtime for solutions have to work that much harder.
People are excited at the possibilities they now see after the Supreme Court’s ruling. Now that people see that being fully realized citizens of this country LGBT men and women are willing and ready to speak out and promote change while looking to see what the next move should be. You have their attention HRC and GLAAD, so please use it to it’s full advantage. So we don’t have to wait for baby boomers to fade out in order for all of us to have the same rights that some of us have now.
Today could be one of the biggest days in LGBT history with a decision could change our way of lives for the better. Or the Supreme Court could make it that much harder on the progress we’ve made to enforce equality. Or both cases (more particularly DOMA) could be sent back because of rules and statutes surrounding the case resulting in no progress at all leaving us exactly were we are right now.
There is a somewhat pessimistic view on what the possible outcomes could be after the Supreme Court Justices dismantled a key component in the Voting Right Act (VRA) that kept a system in check to help prevent discrimination at the voter polls due to race/ethnic minorities. Who is to say that the underhanded tactics of the religious, sanctimonious right somehow extend their oppression to other minority groups like the LGBT community that had a hand in reelecting President Obama.
Also last night in Texas we witnessed a paltry disintegration of rules and regulations set in place to govern and maintain order as the GOP ruthlessly and shamelessly broke the law so they could take away a woman’s right to choose an abortion. The bravery of State Senator Wendy Davis served as a beacon of hope and reason as she stood there implementing an over ten hour filibuster until she was unfairly silenced by her male, power hungry counterparts. But Texas GOP decided to push and bully until they called for an illegal vote that was later rescinded.
And here we are, the LGBT community at the epicenter pf the possibly the biggest court decision to affect a group of people since Loving vs Virginia. The climax and the precipice of change has been heavy because we know the impact the decisions nine justices will have on us. With the incredible events that have taken place politically over the past two days, to say tensions are at their apex is a great understatement. We are talking about the lives of millions of families that could be impacted on this decision. So the big political news of the past two days makes it harder for us to pinpoint what to expect. Still, some feel they have a pretty good idea of what to expect. ]
For instance, it’s expected that if Prop 8 is upheld then same sex couples from California will still not have the right to marry their significant other. this could also challenge the other twelve states that allow same sex marriage and give states the right to say marriage is only between a man and woman. If it’s struck down then there’s several possibilities including civil unions, same sex marriage for California only or saying any ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional. And as I stated earlier the court could decide to not decide the case at all sending it back to a lower court to dispute.
As for DOMA, if the bill is upheld would prevent same sex couples from having the same federal benefits as straight couples. If it is struck down then allow same sex couples to have the same federal benefits as straight couples. It is important to note that the case could be thrown out because the Obama Administration was not the one to bring the case to court.
It is also theorized that today’s decisions could also have long term effects in other areas that affect the LGBT community. For example the progress (or lack thereof) in the case of the Employee Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) in congress that would protect LGBT men and women for being fired solely on the basis of their sexual orientation. A favorable decision for the LGBT community could mean we’d finally see more momentum in protecting our livelihood.
With all the tension and anticipation many have began to speculate what we’ll do after today’s decision. Some have mentioned both jokingly and seriously that they are ready to move up north to Canada in the event of an unfavorable decision for the LGBT community. While the rest of us (myself included) have vowed to make a stand against the tyranny of the GOP who are desperate to strip us of not only the rights we are being denied but also the freedoms we already have in place. We want to show the future generation of LGBT men and women that no matter the outcome, we must stand up for our rights no matter what.
We will keep you up to date on the historic decisions as they happen. Let’s hope the court sees that it is time to move this country forward to equality. Stay tuned
The title is harsh but it is an honest question. Too often I feel that the LGBT community is nowhere near as united as it used to be or like it should be now. When we talk about the various issues within a community I feel that the problem starts with the most visible. The ones that are given a platform to be the voice of us and our concerns. In this case that would be both GLAAD and HRC. Still with all the issues I have with these organizations I know that they are successfully doing more than selling really cool shirts.
I’ll start off by saying that I feel these organizations are about more than selling shirts and having lavish parties with celebs. I love a great party just like the next gay. And they have done some great work with suicide prevention and made great efforts to end bullying. That work does help save lives and I am always thankful for any measure that saves live and look forward to seeing their techniques advance for the next generation of LGBT people.
But all my praise for these organizations stops there. Any other problems that affect our community are either met with endless delays, fall by the wayside or completely forgotten. Efforts only become about parties and advancing the rights of some members of this community instead of all members. This train of thought entered my mind again tonight as I was about to do a quick summary about GLAAD teaming up with American Apparel and how this is a great step in giving this community visibility but I’m not too sure I feel that way about it now. I love the simplicity in the shirts and applaud the efforts made by American Apparel but GLAAD’s association with this leaves me with more questions than answers.
Not to be pessimistic but before reading the article my first thoughts were what exactly will GLAAD be doing with the proceeds? Are they donating it to a cause or is this purely for profit? Will they use transgendered men and women in their campaigns? Will all models be a size 28 with chiseled jaws and perfect abs? Kind of sad that those were the first questions that popped into my head when I read about GLAAD’s involvement. But it’s not like those thoughts and concerns aren’t coming from a history that has not been that favorable for them in terms of truly representing this community. Both organizations have done some questionable things in recent years.
I also began to think about how this upcoming week can be a huge week in advancing equality for our community and our society as a whole and if the Supreme Court rules in our favor we will be the closest to being truly recognized as citizens in this country in the eyes of the law. We are on the cusp of great change within our society, regardless of what the decision the Supreme Court makes this week but somehow it does not feel like a united, uniformed effort. The time is now to work on the issues going on within this community that you and other pompous leader’s parade around saying you know diversity when you clearly don’t. The reason we are stronger as a community is because people are speaking out and standing up no matter what.
Just this year GLAAD named Brett Ratner Ally of the Year for doing a modicum of work. This is was only a year after he was in hot water for using gay slurs during a rehearsal. Think someone was probably more deserving than someone that threw some of his celebrity friends in a video to promote equality. Don’t get me wrong the efforts he made since his comments were admirable as it helped bring more recognition to this community but still not enough for an award many were more deserving of at the time.
It took GLAAD until this year to add transgendered men and women to their official mission statement. My only question is why did it take so long to do this? What possible explanation is there that provides a real authentic answer and not a bunch of red tape and colorful jargon to deter us from recognizing this exclusion.
My point is that one of the biggest problems with organizations like GLAAD and HRC is in how they choose to represent this community. There is little to no diversity in terms of race/ethnicity. Even less lesbian and bisexual representation. And virtually no representation of transgendered at all (unless they are again accused of discriminating against them by not allowing transgendered members in LGBT rallies like they were accused of during the Supreme Court DOMA/Prop 8 hearings). We are tired GLAAD (and HRC as well) of you saying that you are going to do more to show how diverse we truly are but you keep agreeing to ads like this which is the same, nearly monotone aka safe advertising and it has to stop. Is it that hard to have a team of people within your organizations that are willing to do actual research into the real issues of this community or am I and the other concerned members of this community talking to thin air?
I often think about the time of Harvey Milk and how I wish we were seeing the same passionate multifaceted approach of his generation but we are anything other than the successors of this great man. He truly stood for the differences among all of us and it often feels that these organizations don’t. Let’s not forget that in 1995 HRC were perfectly willing to exclude transgender men and women in order to have ENDA passed. So yes this community has a history of struggling to be united when fighting for equal rights. Some may argue that it is the past, but the past sets precedent and when no mass collective effort has been shown to include all members, how else are the rest of us supposed to feel?
Why is it that you and HRC are not working on a more visible campaign for ENDA (Employee Non Discrimination Act)? Why is it barely mentioned and only given a few paragraphs and the only time that you may bring it up is when there is an LGBT member. Why aren’t these organizations using their grand platform to speak to the community to reach out to Senate Democrats who keep stalling out on progressing ENDA through Congress? How much longer will we have to wait before we ensure LGBT members of this country have federal protections against discrimination instead of endless parties, fundraisers where it isn’t made clear where the money is going, and awards to undeserving people? Both groups said virtually nothing during the Immigration Reform Bill as well that excluded LGBT members from receiving the same benefits.
My words are harsh and blunt, but it’s what you need to hear. Maybe I am being so forward because I am waiting with as much anticipation about what this week could mean for us a community and it has me thinking of what else needs to be done that has not been done yet. I know both organizations have done some great work in promoting change and fighting for equality. But we need to do just as much work, if not more within the community. We need to work on these issues now and that starts with talking about them openly and honestly.
If you continually make members of this community who are not gay Caucasian males not feel welcomed or a part of this community then it’s reasonable to be at the very least frustrated with how these organizations operate. Whatever the decision is next week know that we all have so much more to do. We have to do more. So let’s start now.
What an incredible few weeks it has been for the LGBT community. More evidence that our victories are reflective of the evolution that our country has seen this past year. With the news of Rhode Island and Delaware officially becoming the 10th and 11th states to recognize same sex marriage our efforts are truly showing progress. That coupled with Jason Collins, a veteran and still active NBA player coming out of the closet, a new precedence in our history illustrates what an immense breakthrough for our entire society.
Though there have been a few detractors that have strayed away from the significance of Collins’ coming out, this story has inspired so many men and women already to live and celebrate who they really are no matter what. It shows the world how the process of coming out is a harrowing but worthwhile journey, Even in this day and age it takes courage to come out no matter the circumstances or demographics an individual represents. Yet coming out on such a large scale, knowing the varying scenarios that can arise as a result of such a personal admission needs to be recognized.
I was so happy to see the amount of support this man was receiving for, unknowingly to him, taking LGBT community into another level of awareness. It shows the true diversity that this community is comprised of different ethnicity and races while providing greater emphasis on our different interests like sports. This story also showed that as a whole we do not reflect the stereotypes often projected in the media and even if we do, that we are so much more than those perceived notions of behavior. It brought tears to my eyes seeing an outpour of love that basketball fans and just progressive people that are willing and able to accept our sexuality is remarkable.
But for me a moment of pride and celebration was muted and met with a building frustration as time progressed. Because I began to think of Brittney Griner, an up and coming WNBA star that just came out last week as she was drafted. I kept thinking where is the outpouring of support for this woman? Are there not women that are still in the closet that may have just as hard a time coming out than a man? These questions began to swirl around and I felt that asking them was somehow diminishing the impact of Collins’ story. So I waited to write this because I did not want my opinion to seem as though I was trying to overshadow or diminish the monumental part of our history in the LGBT community when Jason Collins came out this week.
I didn’t like this feeling. I did not like that if felt that our society values the experiences of a man more so than a woman. That her story is not given the same value of a man. And when I brought this up in social media and in general conversation, the responses like “who is that?” or “who cares about the WNBA” or that lesbians don’t have to endure the same as gay men it frustrated me even more. It did more than that; it angered me, deeply.
The media itself did not do much better. Griner was given a 30 second spot on the 11 o’clock news and not much else. Nike even signed a deal with Griner and most LGBT news sites, blogs, and other reporting outlets have barely spoken a word about her, if they mentioned her at all. And Collins has had 24 hour coverage since his story broke. No covers on magazines. No invites to speak on radio and numerous tv interviews. As far as I know she hasn’t been invited to the White House either. Though her story has just as much impact on the women that are still in the closet, and looking for a face to show them that they can succeed at all their goals.
We forget how there was a long, arduous struggle that women had to endure just to be able to play sports yet it is still openly acceptable to criticize, even joke about their participation professionally. The Suffrage Movement was what led to the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s which led to the civil rights movement of today. To learn through our history how much women;s history influenced so much of our own only to be given less emphasis is unsettling. To be shown so little respect deeply disturbs me and once again reminded me of the other times where this community is not as welcoming as it appears.
As I read more breaking stories about Collins, more of the news read event as “Jason Collins, The First Out Professional Athlete” when that was not true. Men and women have been coming out in professional sports for years. We’ve had representation in boxing like Orlando Cruz along with a plethora of women that have come out in nearly every professional sport. It showed me where our priorities are and have always been and it does not feel like true equality.
This community does not fight as hard for the rights and recognition of women. How the bisexual men and women in this community are often laughed at and not given the platform of gay men in this community. How race/ethnicity is at times just as big an issue in this community as it is in the rest of society, sometimes even more so when there are gay men that believe that it is impossible for them to be racist. At times the open misogyny that some practice in this community angers me more than the total disregard of intersectionality, which women in this community also have to endure. I can only imagine the experiences women have to endure when they are slighted by a community that does not reach out to them.
It angered me to feel that the same misogyny that society embodies as a whole still has a grasp and is being kept alive by some members of this community. When I brought this to the attention of HRC they ignored it, which with some of the stories and rumors of their transphobia and lack of diversity within the organization I should not have been surprised. That angered me even more as I thought about how too often organizations like HRC and GLAAD set the tone of what this country sees as LGBT when it’s mostly comprised only of affluent gay men. They either didn’t feel a woman coming out was not as important or did not care
Our society still sexualizes women habitually and when she discloses her sexuality it is fetishized and not respected. Because we all know that there is this belief by some that it’s easier for a woman coming out. That us gay men have an immensely hard time coming out because of all the societal pressures, cultural norms and gender roles placed on us. That we are bullied more, threatened and attacked more as gay men.
It’s a common belief that most if not all women that play professional sports in any capacity is written off automatically as a lesbian when that isn’t true either. And if people believe that, since their sexuality is inferred that lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered women athletes have it easier. But if f we took the time out to read the varying challenges that women like Griner face, like bullying, fear of being judged, inner turmoil, then we’d give stories like hers much more agency.
Women are teased if they do things that no other women do or see as “normal” . Yet as a community our understanding of how similar the adversity we face is forgotten. Even with how much as some of the leaders of this community pride themselves on pushing forward equality in the rest of society, we need to do the same thing within and properly recognize the issues we do not focus on enough.
Women, like Griner, and their accomplishments should not be met with such disregard and apathy. To hear this kind of rhetoric from gay men, that know the varying degrees of discrimination and insensitivity directed towards us would with such a flat affect deeply disturbed me. I had to reconcile my strong opinion with adequately explaining the justification of my immense frustration on how easily we lose insight and focus of other members of this community.
I understand how important this story is because it challenges so many disparaging beliefs of what gay men look like and goes even further to illustrate that gay men are athletic and fit into the broad definition of what society thinks masculinity looks like. That we can love throwing a 3-point shot as much as he can love hair and fashion. But the stories of our sisters are ignored, overshadowed, or forgotten far too often.
We cannot ignore this problem, or continue with this air of displaced interests and lack of love toward the women in this community who deserve to be recognized just as much as the men. We need to remember that just as there’s some guy in college that plays basketball feels he can be out and proud because of James Collins that the same must be true of a woman feeling proud of what Brittney Griner has done for women. Let’s give the same recognition to women as we do men. We can do better.