Smear the Queer: It’s still kind of okay to hate gay people

Inside: Do you remember Smear the Queer?; I am not enlightened; Homosexuality is a European disease??; He’ll smack the ish out of you; The things we’ll say when not in public, the familiar vernacular; I just invented a word via typo — Feminite!

This is about homophobia. In a roundabout way.

Roland Martin’s Gonna Smack the Ish Out of You

I don’t know much about Roland Martin. I read about his tweets on HP. I’ve read a few of his commentaries on the CNN website before. But, to be honest with you, even though his tweets were ig’nant I didn’t get riled up. I mean, there’s so much stuff in the world — people are constantly saying and doing over-the-top things to get attention, consciously and subconsciously — to get riled up about. And it doesn’t apply to me, personally. Maybe that’s why.

And he was taken to task by GLAAD, so you know. Somebody’s on it ’cause that’s the way it goes these days.  There are organizations out there who take it upon themselves for better and for worse to kind of police the culture and language.

On the R-A-D-I-O

But I heard some things today listening to WPFW that went directly into the “blog it” portion of my brain.

Jared Ball had a great program with another member of a Malcolm X society. The guest was a black woman. I think she may have been non-heterosexual. That will become relevant very shortly

What made things interesting was that a lot of the listeners who call into WPFW are older, some religious, some traditional, socially conservative (at least when it comes to homosexuality), old school African and African American folks. As soon as gayness came up, they were on the phone raring to condemn it as an aberration.

The guest made a point to validate Love. Period. She tried to affirm to a handful of homophobic callers that black love is love (her words), regardless of who it’s between.

When listening I’m often not fully on the same page as Jared Ball, but I have much respect for his intellectualism and fair-mindedness. He and his guest ended up having to defend the gay community because the conversation devolved into “homosexuals are a distraction to the cause”, “Malcolm X would most certainly not have condoned gayness”, and “homosexuality came out of European culture and is essentially a white, European disease perpetrated on the world”.

Uh. What??

Spectrum Today

Then this evening on Spectrum Today, Askia and his round table talked about Roland Martin’s ostensibly homophobic tweets. The gist of which –here’s my interpretation — was, if you see someone with stereotypical gay whatever, they need to be slapped or have they ass whooped.

Some of the panelists know Roland Martin personally, but I was still kind of shocked how they collectively responded. In the end, the point was made that Martin was fired or suspended  because that’s what it means to be black in America. You think you achieve some status and They, at the drop of a dime, remind you that you have no power. And, his mistake was tweeting in the familiar vernacular and forgetting that Twitter is public.

Obviously, I don’t believe that Martin thinks that gay people should be physically assaulted. Those on the panel who know him personally said as much.

But the colloquial expression — the familiar language — is still homophobic.

When I was a kid, we’d go out and play football. I was taught a game called Smear the Queer. Basically, you throw a football up in the air or at/to someone. Whoever had the ball, everyone tried to tackle. Hard. So in essence, whoever had the ball was the Queer and everyone else’s goal was to physically maim him.

I had no idea. It was just the name of a game.

With your boys

That’s how it is. Like … okay. Trying to be real here. I’m not the most enlightened guy there is. Whenever I read blogs or articles that are super politically correct and sensitive, I kind of scoff at it. I’m not saying that I’m proud of this, but it definitely throws me when I hear someone say “hetero-normative”. It gets my goat when people get upset that someone assumes that there are only two genders. I still don’t know what “cis-” means even after I looked it up.

I was doing the BikeShare thing one day and rode up the special bike lane. Up 15th St. and ended up near a baseball diamond where there was, apparently, a gay kickball league game. I was trying to figure out where the heck I was. Using my iPhone to attempt to find streets with bike lanes that would take me back to Rosslyn. The game was breaking up and everyone was chatting trying to figure out which bar to go to. All I could think was, “They all talk the same. I can’t tell one from the other. They all sound alike.”

What I’m trying to say is that I attempt to be open-minded. At the very least, I respect the fact that others don’t have the same sensibilities and that in some cases their sensibilities are more open and tolerant than mine are. Live and let live, I say, but I’m not going to pretend to have it all together like I’m some enlightened crusader for justice.

Sometimes around a group of guys I’ll be talking about a blog I wrote or things I read. You know by now that I have a weird sense of humor. Inappropriate things, to a degree, make me laugh. Like, I have all of these little Dave Chappelle type skits going on in my head all the time. There’s a context when I can share those and the inappropriate humor is hilarious and is enjoyed by all. Everyone knows that none of us really mean it. Everyone knows how offensive it is, and just imagining someone actually saying something that douchey — that’s what makes it funny.

There’s always someone who takes it too far, though. Someone who’s like, “Yeh. I’d tell that bitch to get back in the kitchen.”

Awkward silence and an uncomfortable chuckle. But even that’s kind of funny and makes me laugh, because there’s always that guy. And you’re like, “Haha. He’s that guy. That guy that always takes it too far.”

The other day it made me think, though, because I imagined a bunch of guys sitting around making fun of black people in the same way. I mean, we’re all human. Everybody rants or blows off a little steam every now and then — I don’t really care — but it helped me put things in perspective.

A completely different situation than if you were representing some institution professionally or speaking or writing in public. One hopes.

Seems like Roland Martin got a little too comfortable reclining in front of the Super Bowl and forgot he was broadcasting 140 characters at a time TO THE WORLD. You can’t talk about smacking the ish out of a possibly gay dude, especially when you previously have called people bigots for various things.

Homophobia

The amount of homophobia in the black community is astounding. After denial comes abandonment and rejection.

A while ago I was sitting with my nephews having dinner and a few girls and a woman were talking about Justin Bieber. “Yes, he is kind of cute.”

One of my nephews said, “Ew. No he’s not. He’s ugly. He’s an idiot.”

And I, trying to temper that kind of language, said, “Don’t talk like that. Don’t call people names.”

“Girls talk about him all the time. He’s butt ugly.”

I said, “No he isn’t. He’s a good looking guy. That’s why all of the girls like him so much.”

My nephew got this look on his face like I said something taboo. I guess I did in his world. A guy isn’t supposed to acknowledge that another guy isn’t ugly. I don’t know how that works exactly but you get the drift.

Or maybe he just thinks I’m gay. A lot of people in my family do. And people I’ve worked with or went to school with. Some un-sourced rumors, my lack of a normal social life, absence of any dating and shyness/introversion/inaction around women. They mistake my abject failure as a man for an “alternative lifestyle”. Maybe that has filtered down to the kids.

Hahaaa. That’s amusing in a self-denigrating kind of way.   But I digress…

Now. Add a few decades of living to that attitude plus jaded cynicism, worldliness, contagious prejudice and overall bitterness. Stir in some pseudo-religious doctrine and you end up with some common, derogatory and downright hateful attitudes.

I’ve mentioned before that I knew some guys in college from Africa who said that gay people should be beheaded. Beheaded! Head literally removed from body. For being gay. Yikes.

A transvestite — is that still a word we use? — was killed the other day for no other reason than people hated her for being who she was. Him?

That’s why you can’t talk flippantly in public about smacking the ish out of people. That’s why I was kind of shocked that the panelists on Spectrum Today said, “Oh he didn’t really mean it. That’s just Roland being Roland and, uh, Institutional Racism!”

Way to avoid the ish out of a teachable moment.

Meanwhile…

This morning a few people called in to Jared Ball’s show and said that Europeans introduced homosexuality into the world and …. It’s a filthy European degeneracy.

Ball held his own countering that nonsense, though. And he kept the peace.

How can someone even say that much less believe it? First of all, the implication includes the “white devil” concept and that black people are somehow superior to white people. Second, if ancient texts talk about homosexuality — even to forbid it — that kind of nips the argument in the bud, which was his point.

Dumbstruck

And that’s when it hit me. It’s still kind of okay to hate gay people.

I mean, we expect socially conservative Christians (or other religions) to disapprove. I don’t think that necessarily = hatred. But it doesn’t help. It doesn’t help because when people who are straight up full of hatred for gays say or do something outrageous, they fall back on a hand-picked Bible verse or two. Usually a verse plucked conveniently out of context. “Let’s see. I’ll take this part from Levitical law since I already kind of believe that. But you can keep the rest. It sounds a bit ornate.”

And it doesn’t help that media evangelists are out there saying that homosexuality consistently was the cause of the downfall of every civilization that dared tolerate it. Or that gay people and feminists were the cause of earthquakes, hurricanes and the 9-11 attacks.

Black people who feel absolutely oppressed by racism — who feel like the entire system was made and exists to hold them down, personally — will reflexively disown and condemn the homosexual community.

It’s nuts, regardless of your beliefs, to de-legitimize an entire community.

Oh well. That’s all I have to say. Of course, after I post this I’ll think of better ways to say it. Then I’ll fall asleep and forget them by morning.

“There’s only two things I hate in this world. People who are intolerant of other people’s cultures and the Dutch.”

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2 comments

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  1. Sadie Flick

    Now that you’ve mentioned “hetero-normative”, it’s the only word I can think of to describe what I’m about to say.

    I think there’s a way to do homo*philic* humor among straight guys that is simultaneously ‘manly’/ (ie. ‘hetero-normative’). It’s a rare occurrence, but let me give you some examples.

    Growing up in theater I’d say about half the guys were gay, bi or in the closet and the other half weren’t. Keep in mind that in the bay area (CA), while a tolerant attitude toward LGBT is promoted much more so than most parts of the country, even in the Bay Area, the conditions for this are rare. Straight guys, just like everywhere else tend to gay bash…

    But the guys I knew in theater would all hang out in mixed fashion, meaning effeminate, bi and gay dudes would hang out with straight and vice versa without a thought. Even describing them as two groups now is difficult and even feels wrong in retrospect (although there’s always an asshole or two in every setting..) I mean, to put it in perspective, Noah (my straight brother, for everyone who is not Gary) had a flaming friend he hung out with who referred to everyone including himself, regardless of gender, orientation etc. as “she” (LOL) – and not as a political statement, it was just how he talked. In fact one time he asked Noah to move his seat up in the car so he could have more leg room, and he said, “Could you move up a bit? She’s 6’4″ back here!” Now, guys will be guys, and the straight ones still had to affirm their straight-ness amongst other straight guys. There were a couple of things I remember:

    1.) As older teenagers, the straight boys would do this thing whenever there was an overly bro-ish moment, to acknowledge that the hetero-ness was over the top or slightly homo-erotic, one of them would initiate a sort of ‘gay chicken’ where at the height of the “i love you, man” moment, catching the other bro’s attention they would go in slowly for the kiss on the lips. The other instantaneously would join in, and one or both would eventually have to give in and start laughing or back out before their lips actually touched. The closer they got, the funnier it was. This was done mostly amongst other ‘dudes’, but also without pause in front of mixed company (ie girls, parents, non-hetero boys etc…)

    2.) They would also joke with each other by suggesting slyly that they were attracted to each other, or suggest some lewd rendezvous without “breaking character” as it were, and using a ‘gayer’ tone of voice.

    Now, there’s nothing in and of itself that sugests that this kind of orientation-play (i’m inventing new words) is somehow not innately homophobic, but the point is, they were quite comfortable enacting this sort of humor with gay guys too, or at very least in their company.

    Most of those guys are married and/or have kids now. But to bring it back to the topic — I never actually heard about the tweet you’re talking about, but I don’t think I would ever catch any of those guys I knew, even now, ever saying something like “if you see someone with stereotypical gay whatever, they need to be slapped or have they ass whooped” in public OR in private. In my opinion, it’s because they had the rare opportunity to be brought up knowing the difference between humor and gay bashing. Those kind of comments are hateful no matter how you spin it, but they’re also quite unremarkable as far as humor goes. Whereas, calling people “she” regardless of gender, now that’s funny.

    (Randomly long comment! I guess I had something to say.)

    • garyarthuryoung

      Saaadie! This comment. The one that you wrote here? This is why I blog, my friend. Because you have something to say. Word.

      Here’s an article about the tweets:

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/08/roland-martin-suspended-cnn-super-bowl_n_1263276.html

      “Hetero-normative orientation play.” Brilliant. That could be a PhD thesis. Your anthropological roots are showing.

      Coming from an environment where gayness or effeminate-ness was absolutely not cool, there were still a few guys who pulled off that kind of humor. Universally flirtatious and affectionate, you could say. They weren’t gay (and anyone who was never would have admitted it or come out without fear of being ostracized, marginalized or harassed), but there was definitely that orientation play that could only be pulled off by the most charismatic guys.

      But humor about gay people was always mocking or involved derogatory stereotypes. Or violence against them, comical or otherwise.

      Those tweets do a much better job at making the point than my trying to explain their subtext.

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