I was watching television. Nothing special, whatever was on when the power button got pressed. In this case it was an episode of Law and Order:SVU- the one with Ice-T in it. The episode was about a cop who’d shown up dead- and in the twists and turns of the show it turns out despite having dated Mariska Hargitay’s character, he was gay and HIV positive. His end came in relation to a circle of black men who were on “the down low.” When he fell in love with and threatened to “out” one of them, he got killed in response. Ice-T got the dubious honor of explaining the concept of “the down low” to the TV audience.He framed it like being out and gay in the black community was neigh impossible and so gay black men are undercover as a result. Then when he confronted one of them he threatened to “out” them blackmail style in order to get his cooperation and in the process, says something like- “you have sex with other dudes- that makes you gay- period.” And at home in the comfort of my living room, I thought well- that’s not entirely true though. I mean, I’m sure there are black men living a lie due to cultural pressure and all, but some of those brothers are Bi too, and that complex possibility wasn’t mentioned.
Hence perpetuating the misassumption that any man who has sex with men is gay and that bisexual men don’t exist. LAME.
I actually saw a headline on Nerve.com that claimed, “Bisexuality exists,” and was attached to some new scientific study. You don’t say….So I was a little sad to realize that something so obvious could be still up for debate but then again in some places we’re still arguing over evolution, when we share 98% of our DNA with a chimpanzee, so I don’t know why I’m surprised at all on another level.
Anyhow, my day was saved by the commercial that came on afterwards.
It was a Tide commercial, featuring a mother who’s got a child she can’t seem to keep clean. The outstanding part comes in that the child is a “tomboy” and the mom comments as to her acceptance of her child’s lack of gender normativity. It was something like, “She’s never going to be the kind of girl who plays with dolls and keeps her clothes clean and I love her the way she is.” That was the message if not the exact wording. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to being brought to tears by a detergent commercial. I might even forgive myself and switch from my hippie version back to Tide and finally have laundry soap that works. The point is- when did TV get so Gay?
When the Daily Show declared that San Francisco was no longer the Gayest city in the country and in fact had lost out to the milder Minneapolis, I thought it was funny. Watch it here! But the sad truth is, California is really lagging when it comes to the Gays. I am thrilled that Gay marriage has been legalized in New York, but like a single bridesmaid, there is a little jealousy too. When will it be our turn? When will the queens I hang out with have to give up their bitterness towards weddings because they could have their own? Huh? California? Huh?
And in another moment of disappointment, Dollywood has failed me too. I love Dolly Parton and her wacky amusement park both. I took a pilgrimage there in 2008, where I admired a musuem full of her outfits,a bald eagle perserve,and I reproduction of the one room schoolhouse she attended. It was international week at Dollywood and so a thin veneer of multicuturalism was spread atop the woodsy americana environs. One could buy a pupusa on grounds that week though few people seemed to know what one was. I felt especially sorry for the troupe of African singers whose vision of America would be Smokey Point, Tennesse. I honored the occasion by buying a sparkly pink pony t-shirt meant for a girl much younger than myself.
This cherished memory of a near perfect place was tarnished recently when I heard that Dollywood had forced a lady to turn her shirt around because it said “Marriage is so Gay.”
It is especially sad because that shirt is wicked funny. Hilarious, in fact. I’d wager that if she hadn’t been identifiably gay herself, it might gone down differently too. Dolly- WTF? I know Dolly Parton herself is a great ally for the gay community, so I am saddened she hasn’t extended her attitude down the line. I am hoping the answer will come in the form of a queer protest in which we all wear gay t-shirts to the park, because that my now be my only excuse to enjoy a return visit.
At the LA Festival of Books, I saw that she was signing copies of her children’s book, “A Suitcase Surprise for Mommy,” and so I tracked her down at booth #577. Introducing myself, I told her as someone raised by lesbians I appreciated her representing queer families in the mainstream.
I wondered if I shouldn’t perhaps have used the word queer-she had french tipped manicured nails. She seemed southern and polite. It was awkward.
Later I thought maybe part of the challenge of being a writer is making small talk with strangers- maybe she just didn’t know what to say anymore than I did.
It is a historic day indeed. I look forward to President Obama making history and keeping his promise to the gay community by working on furthuring Civil Rights. Happy Rainbows and sparkly unicorns!!!!
I did think it was funny though that they say we have fewer behaviour problems because lord knows I’ve never been well behaved…
I had the opportunity yesterday to feel for a short while what’s its like to be gay. As an ally, I am still generally cossetted by straight priviledge. I walk around feeling theimmediate approval of most people I meet. I imagine this is not the case for someone who is recognizably gay, like my mom’s butch girlfriend is for instance. She concurs that people stare and are often rude.
For a moment or two thanks to my bright red “Legalize Gay: Repeal Prop 8″ t-shirt I got to walk in those shoes. I doubt my shirt would provoke much reaction in either of the metropolis’ I was traveling between, those being SF and LA. In fact I was stuck in this situation because I was driving down the 5 in a rush to make it to the last few hours of Los Angeles Pride. Hence the T-shirt choice- And the highway takes one on a detour from the the liberal urban oases and through California’s most conservative towns. I could have at least been wearing a bra…. Everytime, by which I mean all three times I stopped for gas or snacks, I could feel everyone’s eyes on me the second I stepped from the car. It took them a milisecond to read my chest and then settle their faces into a scowl. I decided to eat in my car rather than sit inside with their stares. Even though it was very hot out and I was tempted by the air conditioner.
It is amazing to me that this is a lesson I am learning still, the experience of others ignorance. I found myself composing speeches in my head in which I explain that I am not gay but they are still lame. I keep writing in my head most of the way home.
I got to write my first letter to a newspaper, that I remember…Knowing my activist upbringing i’m sure it’s not the first time. But at least in recent memory. Thanks to the New Mexican for spurring me to action. Here it goes….
As a Santa Fe resident who is also the daughter of lesbians, I took issue with some of what the recent article pulled from the Chicago Tribune, in the Family section, titled “ Kids of gay parents are pretty normal”, had to say. Even the title itself is somewhat offensive. Would you run an article titled, “ Kids of blacks/jews/mormons etc. are (pretty) normal” ? I doubt that would fly. It seems that even in an article that seeks to accept gay parenting, there is an inherently homophobic bias. I am straight myself, but dismayed to see the emphasis on “ normality”, which is I think code for heterosexual. This sends the message that gay parents should seek to raise conformist, “ normal” and therefore straight kids, which is in itself homophobic. How about all parents seek to raise happy healthy children without regard to sexual orientation ? That’s what my parents did and it worked out great.
The one part of the article that was the most important was in the last sentence. “ The burden is not so much coming from our parents , but from the very people who claim to have our interests at heart.” The hardest part about growing up with gay parents is dealing with other peoples prejudice. Similar, perhaps, to how the hardest part of being of color is other people’s Racism. I would also have liked one of the people being profiled to have been from parents who were “ out” when they were born or at least who hadn’t grown up closeted and shameful, as my experience did not much mirror that of the featured subjects. I’d love to know what is inherently “ lacking in stability”- Sprigg or “Chaotic” – Dobson about Gay parented households. My upbringing was neither unstable or chaotic.
The problem with maintaining that only families made up of a mom and a dad are valid is that not only does it discount my family but also all of those families headed by a grandparent or any another configuration, which in many communities are in the majority. They are setting themselves up as a moral elite, which does not bode well for the unity and health of our society. Maybe the New Mexican should source articles from a similarly progressive area to our own, or even better write them yourselves? I’d be happy to talk about my experience.
TA-DA!!!! The article on the whole reminded me of the messages even I put out, in the mid nineties- all that we are just like everyone else nonesense. These days I feel like ” aren’t we past that yet?!” …but I guess not. Also relates to that recent Ariel Levy article in the March 2nd issue of the New Yorker, the one about the Van Dykes. I liked that Lamar Van Dyke pointed out how infatuated with assimilation the current Gay mainstream is. The article ” Kids of Gay Parents Are PRETTY normal” is the bastard step child of that. I am unimpressed that the city that has “Boystown”, can’t do better. At least the New Yorker is on board with the “Lesbian Nation” right ?