November 22, 2010

Anonymous Posts (11.15.10-11.21.10)


Every week, we collect anonymous entries sent in using the link on our sidebar and post them all on Monday. We post anything as long as it doesn't contain personal attacks or hate speech. Feel free to submit your thoughts and questions :)

I think it's safe to say that Nick Altemose is the busiest person I know. When he isn't busy being among the top 1 most handsome students at this school, he's, like, in a lab FINISHING THE HUMAN GENOME OR SOMETHING. Needless to say, when I get an email from him, I'm not going to ignore it, and I'm going to let as many people as possible know.

The story here is not the actual body of his email (bringing to my attention this really interesting piece from The Advocate that evaluates how The Movement should adapt now that We are the Moral Majority in the country (in 2010 the number of Americans who support marriage equality crossed the 50% mark). The use of extreme and militant tactics may now be not only antiquated, but counter productive. Says the author, "To the public, a shrill, aggressive majority appears bullying and menacing, not plucky and righteous. Worst of all, it looks oppressive. Oppressive? Gays as oppressor? Am I kidding?" (He is not kidding.) Oh snap! This is something that is extremely applicable to us as a group of college-aged community activists. Is a mass flier campaign the best way to further The Cause? Should we be doing flash mobs and such? Scarier yet, are we hurting our interests? Maybe. Maybe not! But maybe! [Insert embedded video of the first time we see the Frozen Banana Stand (which has so much money in it! by the way) in the pilot of Arrested Development #obscurereferences #hiari!] So yeah. Read this article, Everyone. (It may inform how you respond to a couple of our anonymous posts below.)) but that he signed it "Yours, Nick." In your face, Everyone Who Isn't Me!

In other news, tonight is the last discussion group of the semester. Details are on the blog here and the facebook event is here. The topic of the discussion tonight is sexism within the LGBT community, which should prove to be, uh, interesting to say the least. Everyone's welcome! Bring a friend.

Anyhow! Anonymous posts for the week, yo.

#1
I wonder if the people who put up the "Got Privilege?" Fliers on Tuesday November 16 in Few Quad thought about how they were infringing on the privilege of other students to have their fliers displayed and not covered up by an inordinate number of copies of the same two fliers. If you want to be treated with respect in getting your message across, don’t monopolize the bulletin boards.

#2
The fact that someone just walked my room (which has a flag hanging from it) and said "Burn that flag!" makes me really sad. I wish that people would be more respectful of others people's ways of life, and wouldn't judge people because they are 'different' or the 'other.'

#3
Let's talk for a minute about sexism. Heterosexism, that is. The idea that being heterosexual is right, is better. I don’t think I have to tell all of you that that’s complete and utter crap. Being straight does not make you a better person than anyone else on the planet. We can all agree on that, right?

So let’s talk for a minute about homosexism. Yes, Microsoft Word, I know it’s not a real word. Probably because most of the time I feel like I’m the only person who sees it. Perhaps that’s because I, as a loud proud straight ally, spend the vast majority of my life with my LGBTQ friends. And I love you all, I really do. But I just want to put out there that sometimes you make me feel bad for being straight.

I just want to scream, “I can’t help it! I didn’t choose this! There’s nothing wrong with me!”
Instead I sit there while you complain about how annoying it is when straight couples cuddle on the Plaza. I ask you if it would bother you if a gay couple were to do the same thing. “No,” you say, “that’s different.”

How is it different? How are you different from those homophobic people you spend so much time vilifying? Why is it okay for you to get upset when I talk about some guy I have a crush on, okay for you to treat me like some silly frivolous little straight girl not realizing how fantastic it is to live a life of straight privilege? I would never look at you at the end of a movie and say “why wasn’t that about straight people” they way you ask me why it wasn’t about two women.
All I’m asking is that you practice what you preach: tolerance. I understand that you want a place where you feel like you can speak freely about your sexuality, and not feel as if you’re judged for it. And I’m perfectly content listening to you talk about LGBTQ issues while you hold hands with your same-sex lover. I just wish that you’d be okay with me having a conversation with you about the trials and tribulations of trying to find a boyfriend. I am lucky in that I know the majority of the world automatically accepts my sexuality. But you are my best friends, and I need you to accept my sexuality too. Let’s put the equals back in “Love equals Love.”

#4
I read in a psych book once that the average gay male is indistinguishable from most straight men and that the super feminine stereotype comes from the fact those with a feminine disposition are more visible to the general populace. I'd like to add a disclaimer that I have no qualms with those that live their lives in a more fabulous manner and believe that they're more "manly" than those who would judge them because they have the strength to wear their identity with pride.

However...

Sometimes I feel a little alienated. I enjoy frizz with my bros, video games, weed, and other men. Yet, sometimes I feel like these qualities don't exactly mesh with the visible gay community (minus the liking other men part). The most frustrating aspect is that I know for a fact (thanks, psych textbook) that there are others like me, but they're invisible/indistinguishable too. While I think the Center (and this blog) is awesome, I kinda feel like I couldn't just walk in there and start up a conversation about Halo: Reach. I wonder if it's a symptom of the fact that it's harder for the "ninja gay" kids to be "out" or if they're worried about the rainbows and Lady Gaga music stereotypically associated with the visible gay community. Either way, it's super dooper frustrating.

17 comments:

  1. To #4, if you came to the center and struck up a conversation with me, I would be happy to talk about Halo Reach; although, most of the time I play games on the computer rather than Xbox 360. I just prefer a mous and keyboard to a controller.

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  2. Hey #4, I can relate to you a lot I think. Many people just assume me to be straight. While I can't say I'm a big Halo fan, I am not a Lady Gaga or Glee fan. While I'm sure I have plenty of gay characteristics, I often find myself identifying better with straight guys (other than the liking men part). I've never been to the center, and I suppose I'm semi-out (there are plenty of people on this campus who know, but also some who should know but don't). Anyways, let me know if you ever want to chat and I'll post my email address on here for you.

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  3. Uhh hello #5 I am perhaps the biggest gamer nerd OUT there and I also just so happen to be gay.

    http://gaygamer.net/

    ^my homepage.

    You just have to find me. :) I encourage you not to put the responsibility on everyone else to open up to you and try instead the opposite. Maybe you shouldn't stereotype others so much? Open your mind.

    "Would you kindly?"

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  4. once again, i agree with #4. I'm completely out to all my friends and to almost everyone who asks, but I'm still not comfortable parading my sexuality across campus. If that's my problem, so be it, but I'm afraid that I'll be pulled into the gay scene rather unwillingly or treated as fresh meat in the gay community. Which isn't what I'm looking for.

    And for all the people that wonder why we still have to post under anonymous in these comments, personally its because I'm more afraid of being judged by the gay community that anyone else, because those are the people whose support I need the most.

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  5. #3, I'm surprised your post hasn't already been addressed. Riding on the heels of the post about sexism last week, and in light of the planned discussion group on the same topic, I would have expected more attention.
    I think what separates your post is that the "homosexism" you describe, while indicative of prejudice, is an affected opinion. It's trendy. And people think it's funny.
    Unfortunately, they are sadly mistaken.
    While I never regret my sexuality (I am straight) in light of these inconsiderate remarks, it has led me to reconsider many of my friendships.
    LGBTQers, I am on your side in your quest for equal rights, but I'd like it if you were on my side too.

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  6. 3: I don't know that I have anything super enlightened to share, but I can really relate with what you've written. Sometimes I feel like I can't talk about my straight experiences--I'm almost ashamed to be straight.

    "I just want to scream, “I can’t help it! I didn’t choose this! There’s nothing wrong with me!”" <--This really resonates with me.

    And I don't mean to suggest that straight people should have straight pride parades or anything like that, and I don't think that's where you're coming from, too. It's just a really tricky balance that you articulated so well. Thanks for writing in with this.

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  7. #3 - hey! I actually just had a conversation with a friend earlier this week that was along the same lines. I think all -isms are frustrating: sexism, heterosexism, ableism, lookism, etc. and you're right that just because you identify as straight, doesn't mean you don't face a whole host of others -isms, because as you've expressed, you do. I do too. nobody gets off the hook.

    I don't think you're "some silly frivolous little straight girl". how could you be? you're obviously super aware, open and accepting in many ways. no person is frivolous. And I think you have a lot of valid, valid concerns. Thinking back to the fratmail crisis-it’s really hard to be a straight person at Duke, too.

    I talk about LGBTQ stuff everyday, and it’s awesome. People like you give me that safe space to express these sorts of sentiments. But you’re right, too, in that I can be “homosexist” when I make comments about straight people. I’ve done it before, and it usually arises from just general anger I’m having due to something homophobic I experienced earlier in the day (or maybe I’m just dealing with my own problems). It’s probably in jest, but like everything else we always talk about with language, that doesn’t make it okay, and I’m grateful for your reminder.

    There is of course-the elephant in the room. The fact of the matter is that straight privilege does exist. When I think about my analogous privileged status-white privilege, it makes me really, really uncomfortable. I used to think, “wait, I’m a lesbian and a woman, so I’m pretty disadvantaged too”. But in the scheme of things, I had no earthly idea of what it is like to be a black American in today’s world, and unfortunately I’ll never fully know because I can’t experience that. So perhaps along the same line, confronting privilege of any kind can be very uncomfortable. I know in my case, I wanted to think that all the other –isms should relieve me the difficulty of confronting white privilege, but it didn’t work that way. I could relate to experiencing discrimination, sure, but I needed to be accountable for the racial unearned privileged status that I do have, and work towards using that in a constructive way. So this is just something to think about-that maybe part of your discomfort arises from the fact that this is a very intolerable situation.

    My suggestion would be to challenge your friends (and me? :) the next time we are, “homosexist” as you say. You seem like a wonderful woman and I’m sure they (I) would love to have this conversation further with you. I think all involved would learn a lot. =)

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  8. #3: I think you really need to talk to your friends about their hypocritical actions. That is definitely not ok and it's downright rude of them to treat you that way. You shouldn't feel guilty about being straight the same way your LGBT friends shouldn't feel guilty about however they identify. It embarrasses me to no end to know there are people within the LGBT community who could be so ridiculously ignorant when they've been on the other side of that scrutiny and disapproval.

    #4: So, as a girl I suppose it works the same way, but from the opposite end. "Girls don't play video games" or whatever, but I absolutely love video games. I'm not much of a FPS gamer, but anything else I will play (thought RPGs tend to drive me insane with their ridiculous amounts of inane dialogue). I'm currently hoarding away money to buy the new Assassin's Creed game.

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  9. " I ask you if it would bother you if a gay couple were to do the same thing. “No,” you say, “that’s different.”

    How is it different?"

    A straight couple cuddling on a quad is by definition a manifestation of straight privilege (however unintentional): they can hold hands comfortably without judgment where their gay (or LBTQ) counterparts cannot. A publicly gay couple has no privilege to manifest in this respect: they can hold hands on the quad while their straight counterparts... can also hold hands, and with considerably less risk of judgment. Seems pretty straight(LGBTQ?)forward to me.

    You feel judged by some subset of the 1 in 10 people (or less) that identify as LGBTQ? What if you were that 1 in 10 who identified as LGBTQ and found yourself judged by a substantially larger subset of the 9 in 10 who do not? Can you honestly compare those two? Word does not recognize your "homosexism" because it does not come from a place of power. Heterosexism has the majority on its side.

    You deserve respect for your relationships and people to listen to your problems; if you're friends are not giving you that, you should appeal to them on a human level and let them know how alienating it is or look elsewhere. But if you're going to suggest someone needs to put the = back in LOVE=LOVE, it is disingenuous to pretend the balance ever dipped out of our favor. Suggesting they should be on our side as much as we are on theirs seems to equate our positions. I think this not only downplays how much we already have on "our side"... it trivializes the lack of representation on theirs.

    Films and media in which everyone is straight and everyone is white... frequently, these have come to be by the deliberate erasure of sexual and racial minorities and have resulted in our extreme under-representation; people of color are whitewashed, sexuality is closeted. This is well-documented. But representations of minorities do not erase the majority; it's simply impossible to erase what is already overrepresented, and it's not the same.

    The idea that we who experience discrimination cannot analyze the negative consequences of the erasure implicit in majority representation without the additional burden of having to apologize because the mere question alienates the majority...? Someone apologizing to you when she is the one who experienced homophobia...? I'm sorry, I shouldn't be speaking for anyone, but I have a lot of trouble with this...

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  10. At a racial sensitivity training necessary for me to tutor, I was struck by a comment the instructor made. It seemed... for lack of a better word, racist. "Don't mistake helpful generalizations for stereotypes," he said.

    **Controversial Suggestions Follow**

    I'm a bit confused by the whole concept of -isms. But I know I'm part of it. Perhaps I just lack the proper vocabulary.

    As I see it, an -ist is someone who has a marked preference for one thing over another. There's an Italian saying something like "there is no accounting for taste". And... in everything else, we don't have a problem with it. I am a Googlist in that I prefer Google to Microsoft. I am a... milk chocolatist (?). For the record, I'm becoming somewhat of an atheistist.

    I don't see this as a problem. I respect those with religious beliefs (and love quite a dang few of them), I don't cause problems, and I... pay my taxes? But most of the time, I get along better with people who aren't very religious. So... in simple terms, I prefer them. But I believe they absolutely deserve the same rights and privileges as everyone else and shouldn't be mistreated (err, not the most relevant comparison/segue, but it'll have to do).

    Along with this whole majority debate, we have to acknowledge that there are people who are good and kind who simply prefer heterosexuals to the alternative and that (in my opinion) this is perfectly reasonable. Is it not? Is our goal as individuals to completely dilute ourselves and rid ourselves of preferences? I really hope not.

    I don't consider myself racist or sexist, though I'm certainly open to the possibility that I am. I just don't like or dislike certain sexes or races more than the others. But if I did, would there be some sort of moral wrong there?

    Obviously, "preferring" a certain race or sex can't be totally accurate (for lack of a better word), because we're all different. But there are websites devoted to talking about what white people have in common, among other things. How, though, do we talk about self-segregation without talking about preference?

    (continued)

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  11. (continued from above)

    I don't avoid Christians. I don't assume things about any given person because of some attribute they have. But I am aware of the positive correlations that tend to exist as concerns various qualities about them. Is that -ist? Is it crazy to attempt to know as much about someone as quickly as possible? It's the basis of marketing, is it not?

    Maybe, at the root of it, I'm not -ist. Rather, I like, perhaps ironically, open-minded people better than non-open-minded people. I like to be accepted for being gay and not constantly having to argue or justify WHY I AM or something like that.

    But that's just it--I don't want people to assume things about me because I'm X, but I profile (and defend my decision to!) *classes* of individuals (not individuals themselves).

    What does that make me? What does that make racists? It seems like there must be some kind of middle ground--say, for the caucasian heterosexual male who most prefers the company of other caucasian heterosexual males but who absolutely supports diversity and equal rights. Is there not a word for this? Have we so abused the -ists that we don't have room for preference?

    On another level entirely, what does this point to? It seems like there are two behavior patterns emerging and we are relegated to one--we are either difference-hating or difference-loving. CG tells us to lean into discomfort, to seek out and grow to know and love the differences. I absolutely support that message, but I also don't look for a racially-balanced, absolutely heterogeneous life. You know what? I eat Indian food probably more than all of the other foods. This doesn't mean I think the other foods are bad or that I hate difference or that I'm a bigot. I just really like Indian food. And there's nothing wrong with that.

    Do people see the circularity of this? The notion that "there are no categorical truths" is phrased as a categorical truth? All the same, "Everyone is different" gets us nowhere. What are we looking for? "Many heterosexual males have an interest in sports"? Gah. I don't know where I'm going with this. But hopefully some other readers can help me make sense of what I'm referring to.

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  12. err, just to clarify what I meant in the last sentence regarding truths--I was really going for something more like "I honestly think it's fair and logical that we should generalize certain things (and correct whatever misperceptions exist about an individual as I get to know them); I just don't want to be profiled or have overmany generalizations applied to me." which maybe says something about the worth of avoiding labels. I'm not sure.

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  13. #4: I know how it feels to not feel like you don't really belong in the gay community here. For one, being a frat guy is enough to raise a lot of eyebrows amongst the community. For some reason, I feel like there evolved a standard that being a gay men in the community basically forbid you from being in a fraternity. I've encountered so many people that see being gay and in a fraternity as an oxymoron or a reason as to why a gay male in the fraternity stays in the closet. But I think there is so much more to it. That's a completely different conversation though.

    I would agree that sometimes it is difficult for a gay male who identifies as masculine to be a part of the community. So many prominent members of the community know the lyrics to every musical known to man and know the entire background story of each season of America's Next Top Model. And there is nothing wrong with that. The problem arises when those members of the community somehow expect every other gay male to be the same way. I, for one, don't know the vast majority of musicals and have never watched an episode of America's Next Top Model (I will say that I do know the lyrics to every Lady GaGa song though haha). But, it really bothers me when people in the community say that they've seen me hanging with my bros and "being real fratty" and that I shouldn't feel as though I have to play into the frat stereotype. I think that by being an out member of my fraternity, I'm already being the non-stereotypical frat boy. And when I do such things like bro-ing out and playing cornhole on the main quad, it's not me pretending or acting to be fratty. It's just me being me. I love drinking a nice beer with my bros while watching the game just as much as I love watching the latest episode of Glee or Modern family. There's nothing wrong with doing any of those things. I think it's something that some people have to learn to acknowledge and, most of all, respect. I'm not exactly sure how the greek community became the antithesis of the LGBTQ community, but it really sucks for me when the community that is supposed to support me the most rejects me because of my connection to the other community.

    I've never been a big gamer (mother dear wouldn't let me play those games) but, I completely understand your frustration and think you are completely validated in feeling that way. There are so many times when I feel out of place because of the conversation focusing around America's Next Top Model or the latest Gossip Girl. I wish the best for you. For me, it helped to stand up for myself against those that said I was just "pretending to be a frat boy" or "trying to act fratty so I could have a social group". Some people still make comments but, luckily, I've found people within the community that don't judge me because of being in a fraternity. I hope you are able to do the same.

    I'm always available to talk if you want to. Look me up on Facebook.

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  14. I finally remembered exactly what I was getting at (or figured out how to word it)!

    As I see it (and correct me if I'm wrong), -ism is the belief that a particular group, food, breed of cat is superior to another/the others or the belief in the hierarchy of value.

    But I think we need to be careful to distinguish some people's assertion of value with the simple fact that individuals are going to have preferences (like I said, I don't think Indian food is superior to other foods, but if I'm going out to eat, you know I'm headed to the Taj Palace).

    Similarly, I tend to get along better with women than I do with men. But the fact the I probably spend more of my time with women or discussing issues relevant to women is not and absolutely cannot be sexist. Nor can the reverse be. It is unreasonable and unhelpful to demand (or attempt to) that a person absolutely change this and that to make their life exactly gender/sexuality/race-balanced. Similarly, when a leadership board whose concerns are not to represent their constituency, say (and therefore do not demand a gender-representative or gender-balanced leadership council), I honestly don't see the problem with that board not being gender-balanced. That said, leadership which represents constituents has a responsibility to represent their interests and would frequently benefit by having leaders who campaign for certain important interests (but by no means do these need to be literal representations. a caucasian is not, for example, unable to campaign for the interests of other races, just as a man is not unable to effectively campaign for/champion women's issues). Please, *please* correct/attack me if I'm not on point.

    So when it seems someone is being sexist/racist/bigoted/whatever, I think it's unbelievably important, especially as our movement(s) move(s) forward, to be very careful in determining whether an individual is acting on/discussing a preference or an actual -ism, because attacking people's preferences is attacking, more or less, part of their identity. All the same, we need to be compassionate and open-minded with people.

    With that in mind, it actually isn't a bad idea of how to go about confronting and clarifying these people who we're struggling to understand. Rather than going on the offensive, it might make sense to try to clarify what they prefer (or whether they actually believe in some sort of superiority). Try to get on the same page rather than assuming that there's some violation occurring. We are different, yes, but we're going to have a more effective discussion if we talk constructively about our differences rather than attacking what we see to be a wrong.

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  15. Err, just to be clear, I'd prefer this focus primarily on preference versus implied value, rather than, say, representation, which is another issue entirely.

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  16. To #3, I agree with your statement. It is true that the impact of a straight person expressing disapproval of public homosexual displays of affection than vice versa. However, that does not justify those attitudes from homosexuals. As a gay male, I agree with your statement, and I also happened to observe that the somewhat clique-ish nature of the center can be alienating for straight allies. In fact, I still feel alienate by that feeling whenever I go there.
    To #5, you are definitely not alone there about being a gamer. I'm an RPG fan, and it's great to see others out there as well!

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  17. Irene,
    I think the goal of #3's post was very clearly not to express that the trials facing straights are equivalent to the trials facing gays. This is quite obviously false.
    It is similarly indisputable that "homosexism" cannot, and should not be defended.
    If you are unaware of this problem that is prevalent within the gay community, consider #3's post an opportunity to edify yourself. There is no need to be defensive. #3 was more diplomatic than I would have been.
    Just realize that it is difficult to demand the support of a majority (even if your cause if just) if you actively alienate them.
    P.S. I used your name to call attention to your comment. I do not know you, and would not presume to make judgments about you.

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