Tag Archives: discrimination in the gay community

Do Unto Lesbians As We Do Unto Gay Men

BiSexual

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.

So..Tell Me What’s Wrong With This Marriage Equality Ad?

gay dumbasses

 

When I came out eight years ago, I felt that as time went on, I wanted to contribute more to the cause of equality by speaking out because as the old saying goes “if you’re not a part of the solution then you’re a part of the problem”. So I try to make an effort whenever possible, even if it’s a small donation to an LGBT organization or writing a blog about the problems and issues within our community. And I always try to encourage but not demand the same in others. I believe every voice has power, and as a result, an impact in everything we do.

Even if it’s something as simple as a retweet on twitter or liking and sharing a Facebook status, I feel like if it further advances someone else’s voice. The message becomes a little bit louder and I am more than happy to do so. Visibility is and has always been a key component to the success of our community. Any civil rights movement that has been successful in history is because they stood out and made their presence known. Social media allows us to be visible and more powerful in delivering our message of equality than ever before.

But, we need to recognize that there is a limit to how effective that can be as there is to everything else. Sometimes the message can be counter-intuitive, counterproductive, contradictory, and just plain wrong. An example of this kind of wrong is what I found when I came across this ad today by an organization called FCKH8. Today they tweeted out this image with the caption “Jesus’s reason for wanting you to support gay marriage”. When I saw this, I became livid. There are so many things wrong with this picture. But let’s break it down so you see why this is so disturbing.

The message by what I presume is an LGBT equality group for marriage equality and their message is to “Legalize Love”. Of course I support that, it’s what I talk and write about daily. The group calls on both straight and gay allies to join together to eliminate discrimination and hate. They have an array of t-shirts, hoodies, wristbands and pens to promote the cause. Hell, I even support the eye candy they use to promote their merchandise on their website. I support all of this because allies are a bridge that enables us to spread our message.

Even with the fact that many don’t support businesses or organizations like this because we don’t know where all the profit is going to, I don’t mind it. Because it gets the word out and makes us more visible in some form and what we as a community want. They even donated 25000 dollars to help promote awareness and equality in Tennessee, my home state that is still trying to pass a bill that would ban students in grade K through 8 from saying the word gay in school. So, naturally I support that as well. That is not where the issue lies here.

Now some of you may be looking at this ad right now saying “What’s wrong with it, this is in support of marriage equality” and if that’s all you see then you need to look again. Because this ad supports hate. It is saying that abortion is wrong. I don’t support hate, in any form. And this openly invites hate on a woman’s right to choose for herself and I will never, ever support such hypocritical, vulgar, and flat out asinine degradation of ANYONE and their right. You don’t “Fuck Hate” by hating on another group. Ever.

Maybe the reason that I’m so upset is because I’ve seen such a vapid attempt like this before. Because of this belief by some leaders and activists within our community that fail to see the diversity that is in this community. It’s evident when you hear comments like “I can’t be racist, I’m gay” when you most certainly can be, despite how immeasurably ignorant a conclusion this is to invoke.  These two issues don’t even mirror because they are two completely different issues. However, both should be treated with the same respect. Your status as a gay man does not eliminate your ability to be prejudice.

Some would argue that this ad shows a glaring privilege that is often overlooked and not approached for discussion by this community. Because some say that the truth is gay Caucasian men still have some privilege. It’s not so much about the right to marry but in the ability for a Caucasian male, regardless of sexuality, is still granted the ability to make a cause more visible. Don’t believe that’s true? Well this is what ads like this suggest, and why it is so important to speak out about how irresponsible an impact they have. Because this is not the kind of message we want to send.

I don’t know if it’s the inexperience of youth, an extremely tasteless joke or just willful ignorance but it needs to stop. How insensitive is it not only degrade but also condemn the rights of women by using the same tactics enacted by extreme republicans declaring kit is God’s Will to get married? Why would you ever want to place the condemnation on another group this way? By involving a prophet depicting children that are in danger to abortion and being gay saves the world that awful notion. I don’t even understand why whoever created this ad felt that this would ever be okay to publicly damn women’s rights. It is incredulously hypocritical (and quite ironic) to use religious propaganda to promote any cause.

Not to mention that there are lesbians, transgendered, and bisexual women that exists within this community as well. This ad completely disregards them and their right to choose. You are openly condemning these women when ads like this are a representation of this movement. They are facing the same struggles for equality that we are fighting for every day. This goes to show what goes wrong in a civil rights movement when someone becomes so intent on what they want for their community and for themselves that they don’t think about how it will affect others. You know who this ad speaks to? Gay, Caucasian Males. It does not reflect any other bit of diversity than that.

This all goes back to what I’ve talked about numerous times here and here about one of the biggest issues that exist in the LGBT community. That those of us that are a dichotomy, or members of other disparaged communities, face other issues that are completely disregarded pushed aside, or ridiculed by the group that knows what that feels like. Or at the very least knows what it feels like to be treated this way. Race issues and women’s issues in this community too often are treated this way. The only way that this erroneous use of judgment ever changes is when we call it out and explain why it’s wrong.

I’m angry at how insensitive this is to the other members of this community. How this ad openly disparages the women in our community that are always a side note in our struggle for equality. Normally the figureheads in the public eye are all male, all Caucasian and do not even begin to show the diverse dynamics of this community. And it has got to stop. Now. You all should be raging about this. We cannot afford to alienate one right over another. Civil rights movements are not about throwing other groups under the bus to get what we want.  It is not always just about us. And we need to remember that.