I'm a little late to this party, but I had a few thoughts to throw out to the Project and see what comes back. I was on Blabbeando the other day and noticed his post about pictures of Oscar De La Hoya in drag that have surfaced on the internet. (Find the original source of the pics here.) I still don't know if they're real or Photoshopped and, well, it's beside the point. I wanted to highlight something that Andres said though because it really hits the nail on the head:
As I wrote in March of 2006, De La Hoya is no stranger to attacks on his masculinity in the form of homophobic taunts or allegations from former contenders he has gone on to defeat. And, unlike many in the sport, De La Hoya has always risen above the fray and responded with dignity and honor without resorting to throwing back homophobic taunts of his own.
Whether the photos turn out to be fake or not, at most they show De La Hoya likes to ad spice to his sex life - as so many other people in the United States do (he might also have been dressing up for sport and not necessarily for kinks); he also might have been unfaithful, as so many other people also have as well. Allegedly, the sexual partner in question is a woman which still would make De La Hoya, hm, straight? The reaction actually speaks less about De La Hoya than about those who gleefully think that his career is done with the publication of these possibly fake images (and Latino gossip sites are just as complicit in rejoicing).
What is it about American culture (and Latino and sports culture, for that matter) that idolizes masculinity to such a high degree? Although perhaps Andres and I are making too much out of this - it wasn't that long ago that pictures like this would have ended De La Hoya's boxing career. Today? I'm not so sure, but its still an uphill battle.
Boxing is a bloodthirsty sport that involves beating the crap out of each other. As a gay man, I've found myself on the receiving end of quite a few punches - and I give back as good as I get. I can remember specifically one time in high school where I won the fight. For the rest of the school year, the other students taunted the kid that started the fight with me - "You got beat up by a queer!", "The sissy kicked your ass!", etc. And that kid hated me with a passion after that although before I was just someone lower on the social ladder that he thought he could kick around. The idea that I, as a gay guy and more effeminate than him, could whup him in a bare knuckles brawl really touched a nerve somewhere.
The summer after that school year he snuck up behind me and hit me in the back of the head with a crowbar. "You ain't so tough now, are you queer?" he sneered afterwards. He had dominated me. He had won. He had reasserted his masculinity in his mind. Is this what the boxing world, the Latino community and American culture are dealing with? Is this about their desire to find a way to diminish De La Hoya's natural abilities or maybe to find another reason to hate him more and ratchet up the stakes? Perhaps all this and more. I don't know.
But I do know that it is all connected in a strange yet beautiful interplay of violence, sexism, equality, natural abilities, trans issues, gender, self-esteem and discipline woven together like the threads of a dreamcatcher. As a society we are complex and therefore there are no easy answers to anything. (The recent posts on prostitution spring to mind automatically) With so many factors, faces and feelings involved is it possible to solve our problems without completely destroying the weave?
Kudos to De La Hoya for standing up against homophobia and sexism. I hope he's able to stand his ground, but I'm sure someone somewhere will find fault with something. That's how we work. But for now at least, congratulations to the cute boxer confident enough in himself that he may be comfortable in his own skin. He's up against quite an array of forces.
(I also found it interesting that in today's society "Photoshopped" has become a word - and one that was automatically attached to the controversy. I may sound incredibly old here, but I remember a time when if you saw a photo most of the time it was a real picture unless it came from an advertising agency or whatnot. "A picture is worth a thousand words" has become "A picture is worth a million dollars if Photoshopped correctly." The pictures could be fake, as De La Hoya's representatives claim. I don't know for sure. I didn't care enough to find out.)