All these complaints are akin to the recent statement by a Missouri lawmaker who has a long record of opening his mouth to change feet: When you look at the tenets of religion, of the Bible, of the Quran, of other religions, there is a distinction between homosexuality and just being a human being.
The complaints reflect where anti-LGBTQ people whove convinced themselves theyre not are and how those who still raise money off of anti-LGBTQ crusades get the attention of their followers. Theyre in sync with anti-LGBTQ claims that the goal of the militant gays (you know, like some mafia) is to destroy traditional American culture or some part thereof.
Its also another example of what members of dominant groups say about any outsiders. White racism doesnt mind gouging on its version of the food, or usurping the music, of the cultures of people of color, but it wants the individual members to act as White as possible.
Any person of color knows how white they have to act to get ahead in our society just as LGBTQ people know how acting as straight as possible is a way to keep their heads down. There are so many pockets of America where the finest compliment any group can get is they fit in well.
And then the complaints begin about a Black History month, a Womens History month, or a Gay Pride Month. The complainers go so far as claiming that their group ought to have a special month.
But the dysfunction of discrimination in terms of how it separates even the discriminators from their own humanity would make such observances little more than attempts to prove that theyre not like whatever they conceive those others to be. Can you imagine a Straight Pride without picturing it as some display trying to celebrate how theyre not whatever gay stereotypes they accept?
The dominant group in any discrimination is willing to admit that those other people are around (I dont care what they do in private is often the line they recite even though theyre usually obsessed with it.). They just dont want anything those people do to challenge their privileges, especially their sense that theyre the definition of normal human beings.
They dont mind those gays around as long as they dont act as if they love being LGBTQ. If they can see them as sick, scared, lonely, failures, and suicidal, thats okay.
Its best then that LGBTQ people stay in their closets and come out at night so no one can see them or might think they can be proud of, and happy with, who they are. And the history of outright threats experienced by LGBTQ people is reflected in the fact that so much of their nightlife begins late after dark to hide in the shadows.
In particular, then, a celebration of LGBTQ Pride contradicts so much in American straight culture, that its a healthy threat to many of the assumptions and limitations of conforming to being straight acting, thinking and posturing. Of course, it scares those whove bet their life on all the straightness and dont see how the straight role theyre performing with all its gender rigidity is limiting and hurting them.
Homophobia is a key part of that role. And though it takes many forms, the key culturally conditioned basis for all others is the fear of getting close to ones own gender.
That fear is used to promote Americas warrior culture and turn little boys into men who will cheer culturally approved violence particularly against other men. Its used to encourage competition among women for the limited number of good men straight-acting women are supposed to need to save themselves from hopelessness, emptiness, loneliness, and meaninglessness.
So, if two heterosexual male friends walk down almost any street in the U.S. theyll still possibly become victims of some form of gay oppression. Thats not about who theyre in bed with or in love with; its about their acting as if they dont have to fear getting close to their own gender.
Homophobia isnt natural to human beings. And being heterosexual is not the same as living the straight role that takes decades of fear-based conditioning to install in everyone.
But its still useful to encourage competition and the fighting spirit that will mean that no mans masculinity will be questioned if he displays anger and violence. Should he show gentleness and the ability to be in touch with other human emotions, hes a threat to the straight role.
Thats the danger of Pride Fests to this whole system as well as other examples of LGBTQ people out and proud as healthy and happy. They challenge whats actually a house of cards by saying and showing that human beings dont have to be afraid of closeness with their own genders.
And that means that all friendships can be different and close no matter what the gender of their members. It means that heterosexual coupling doesnt have to be straight-acting both partners can choose how they want to express their closeness with each other.
It means that well have to come up with new ways of selling our products, motivating people, investing in our future, and doing our patriarchal politics.
LGBTQ Pride is a radical notion not because it expresses some twisted idea of humanity but because it confronts every human being to question the limitations of the straight role theyve been scared into, a role that becomes a straight jacket. And thats what anti-LGBTQ communities fear all of this means theyll have to move out of their comfort zones and learn again what it is to be as they were born - full, unlimited human beings.
© 2017 Robert N. Minor
Robert N. Minor, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at the University of Kansas, is author of When Religion Is an Addiction; Scared Straight: Why Its So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why Its So Hard to Be Human; and Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society. Contact him at www.FairnessProject.org
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