Guest Blogger

What's the Key to the Gay Rights Movement? Straight Liberation.

Filed By Guest Blogger | April 16, 2010 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement, The Movement
Tags: coming out of the closet, Gay Liberation, gay rights movement, LGBT rights, straight liberation

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Grace Chu lives in New York City, and she is the editor-in-chief of lesbian humor and culture blog Grace The Spot and a staff writer at AfterEllen. She likes penguins.

gracechuafterellenpic.jpgI've been hit with deadline after deadline, so it was only today that I could respond to this article on Gawker, "Marc Jacobs Is the Best Thing Ever to Happen for Gay Liberation." The thrust of the article is that convincing straight people to love the more flamboyant and outlandish elements of the gay community is essential for the gay rights movement. Agreed. But then comes this paragraph, replete with that tired "we are not like them" canard that (some) gays continue to perpetuate:

The great sham of the gay movement is that it is trying to convince the hetero society that we are just like them. Sure, there are many gay men and women living boring lives in the suburbs trying to raise some babies, but still, we are not like them. We will never be like them, and trying to hide it is only going to make them suspect us and hate us even more. So, instead of putting on a stuffed suit, let's all grab one of Jacobs' skirts and head out on the town. When the world gets used to the faggiest of the tribe, getting them to vote for the rights of Uncle Boyd down the street is going to be a snap.

That paragraph presupposes that people like this Uncle Boyd character are the norm in heteroville. Uncle Boyd is an artificial construct, much like the Cleavers in Leave It To Beaver. Back in the 1950's and 1960's, life was more like the world portrayed in Mad Men. You know what I think? Ward Cleaver was probably attempting to emulate Don Draper at any chance he was away from the missus (but most likely with less success) while June Cleaver was home popping barbiturates. Wally Cleaver was kind of a pimp, so he probably convinced a couple of girls to blow him under the bleachers during homecoming.

See, the great sham is that hetero society is still in denial that they are fundamentally every bit as outlandish and ridiculous and hormonal as the "faggiest of the tribe." Take one look at any magazine stand nowadays and you'll see that hooch-zilla Bombshell McGee, you know, the one who had the affair with Sandra Bullock's hubby, a man who is 51 years old and still likes running around doing wheelies on tricycles. What about Tiger Woods and his jizz-covered cell phone? What about former president Bill Clinton and his cigar a la creme? What about the germ-ridden casts of any given MTV reality show? Or any given rap video? If straight people were to suddenly turn into a sea of Uncle Boyds, the entire media and entertainment industry would collapse, no one would go to Mardi Gras, and people would suddenly remember that St. Patrick's day is a Catholic holiday and they would head to church instead of the pub.

This is not to say that every straight person is an uncontrollable pill popping lothario. I'm sure that most straight people - like most gays and lesbians - would not live a Girls/Boys Gone Wild lifestyle even if given unlimited sums of money and freedom. It's simply too tiresome to keep that up. But every person - gay and straight - has a little bit of "gone wild" in them. Every person wants to buck squeaky clean middle class social conventions from time to time. Otherwise films like Office Space and Old School wouldn't exist. Humans are animals too, and animals don't like to be kept in cages or cubicles. Every so often, the animal must come out.

But when it comes to bucking "nice" middle class social conventions, gay people have a pass. When a gay man who wears a suit on the weekdays puts on a skirt and dances with glow sticks to house music as go go boys writhe on the bar on the weekends, straight people think it's normal. "Ohhhh... he's gay," they say. Of course, this stems from the idea that gays exist outside of the norm and are weirdos, but this prejudice does lead to the unintentional result of gays being able to express themselves more freely than straights in certain limited situations.

Sometimes, straight people are more likely to be subjected to public flogging when they are caught doing something deemed unsavory by the populace. When Paul Reubens a/k/a Pee Wee Herman was caught jacking off to a showing of Nancy Nurse in an adult theater, all hell broke loose, even though no one was harmed. Before George Michael came out, he was arrested in a Los Angeles public bathroom for engaging in a lewd act with an undercover cop, and the media went wild. But ever since he came out, he has admitted that he does cruise for anonymous sex and that his partner is ok with it, and no one even bats an eye. Shouldn't straight people have this freedom too?

Listen, straight people. Learn to accept and love yourselves. You are just as expressive and whimsical and fun loving as gay people. You, just like gay people, sometimes have the desire to do socially unacceptable things. Of course, socially unacceptable does not always mean harmful, so we are all for straight people being allowed to do unharmful socially unacceptable things. (But quit it with the harmful things. We're looking at you, Tiger Woods. Go team Elin!) We're not going to judge you; we'll simply just look away and say, "Oh, those darn straight people..."

The sooner you learn to accept and love yourselves - every wild, filthy, and convention-busting part of yourselves - the more you will realize that you are just like us, and that we are just like you. (And to you gay people who insist that straight people are not like us - you simply just don't know that many straight people.)

So, let's hear it! Straight liberation now!

(Crossposted at the Huffington Post)


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The gay assimilationist ideology behind your post reminded me of this story

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oew-kilhefner5dec05,0,2467579.story

Equality doesn't require c o m p a r i s o n s.

Really? That's all I hear from the "full equality now" crowd - comparisons. "Black people got this protection, so we want it too." "Straight people get survivor benefits on an unequal basis from the SSA, and we want to be discriminated against in the same way too."

"Equality" is all about comparisons. "Liberation" is the one that isn't.

Comparisons are about "right and wrong." Equality is not.

When a gay man who wears a suit on the weekdays puts on a skirt and dances with glow sticks to house music as go go boys writhe on the bar on the weekends, straight people think it's normal. "Ohhhh... he's gay," they say. Of course, this stems from the idea that gays exist outside of the norm and are weirdos, but this prejudice does lead to the unintentional result of gays being able to express themselves more freely than straights in certain limited situations.

.

I just wanted to pull that line out and ask you to think about that situational aspect a little more clearly.

Especially given the points recently stated in the thread on ENDA today, and the nature of sexism as the underlying aspect of what drives the discrimination against people be they gay, lesbian, bisexual, or trans.

I do live outside the norm. And I am different from straight people because I don't have heterosexual privilege.

Usually the key to equality is getting the privileged side of the equation to recognize their privilege and what they take for granted.

Straight people are already liberated. They just need to realize how much they are liberated and how much gay and trans people really aren't in comparison.

Tiger Woods can cheat on his wife with 100 women, and be forgiven without all straight people being stigmatized as promiscuous perverts.

A straight 30 year old guy can have an affair with a 17 year girl and not be labeled a pedophile. But a gay guy tells a 17 year old gay boy just to use a condom if he has sex with someone else, and Sean Hannity is calling him a pedophile on Fox "News".

Straight people can do whatever the hell they want and not be stigmatized for it. All is forgiven, but gay people are still going to hell.

Before George Michael came out, he was arrested in a Los Angeles public bathroom for engaging in a lewd act with an undercover cop, and the media went wild.

Seriously? George Michael got arrested engaging in a lewd act with another man. That's why it was controversial.

This piece is the opposite of reality. Actually I'd say it was damaging to the gay rights movement and I hope straight people don't read it. They might think gay people aren't really in need of any rights since we live such fancy free lifestyles.

"Seriously? George Michael got arrested engaging in a lewd act with another man. That's why it was controversial."

Straight people don't have hetero-sex in the Bathroom. It's almost impossible. At least it's rare.

With this example and ALL the others, it isn't "what" gay people do that stigmatizes us - it is the idea of homosexuality as promoted and taught by religion. "Homosexual" is stigmatized, not because of behavior(s), but because that's how it has been defined for centuries.

There is a "straight privilege" only to the extent that homosexuality has been made wrong or stigmatized. To un-stigmatize homosexuality we need to un-wrong it. That idea is planted in young minds by religion. We've been branded as wrong, sinful and deviant because we are homosexual, not because people consciously decided our behavior(s) were wrong - they never had to think about it. They didn't have to rationalize our wrongness, it was what they were taught. For most people we've always been "wrong."

Sooner or later we have to stop the cycle of stigmatizing homosexuality by stopping the teaching that it is wrong. Some religions are headed in that direction - finally.

There is a "straight privilege" only to the extent that homosexuality has been made wrong or stigmatized.

There is straight privilege as long as straight people have access to more rights and responsibilities of citizenship than gay people.

Marriage is a heterosexual privilege because they're the only ones with access to it in most states.

When straight people don't have to produce paperwork to visit their spouse in the hospital, they have heterosexual privilege.

When straight people don't get discharged from the military for announcing their sexual orientation, they have heterosexual privilege.

When straight people aren't afraid they'll get fired if someone finds out they're straight, they have heterosexual privilege.

I know lots of people who don't think gay people are wrong, they just don't get what all the fuss is about when we say we want to get married or repeal DADT or pass ENDA. They think, eh, gay rights can wait. And they think that because? Heterosexual privilege. Because they can wait, because they're not the ones without the rights and don't get what it's like to not have heterosexual privilege.

Straight people don't have hetero-sex in the Bathroom. It's almost impossible. At least it's rare.
That's because straight people don't have to hook up in bathrooms. They can do it right on out in the open. He wasn't arrested for having sex in the bathroom, he was cruising and was led to believe the arresting officer was interested.

. . . all of the above because homosexuality has been made "wrong, sinful and deviant."

We can tally up the "straight privilege(s)" or understand why it exists. We have been stigmatized, but not by "those straights." We have been stigmatized by religion. Religion branded us, not "those straights."

To stop the stigma you must stop the teaching. Only religious institutions teach that we are wrong or deviant. They teach that to children - even before they know they're "straight."

Religious people teach that homosexuality is wrong because homosexuality subverts the patriarchy. The patriarchy is designed to keep men dominant and women submissive. It's about keeping men and women in their place, in their gender roles so men can maintain their dominance, power and privilege. Religion is used to justify and enforce heteronormative behavior, but it certainly is not the only institution that does.

Very little about homosexuality is mentioned in the Bible. But there's a whole lot about gender roles. I was raised Catholic, and I wasn't taught homosexuality is a sin so much as I was taught there are roles for men and women. These roles are assigned according to one's sex at birth. Any deviation from that was unthinkable.

"Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman."-Leviticus 18:22
This is about gender role. It doesn't just say "do not lie with a man", but to not lie with a man as one lies with a woman.


"If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable."-Leviticus 20:13
Again, gender roles.

Male homosexuality is a sin because it's an act of submission. Men (bottoms) making women of themselves or men (tops) making women of other men. That scares the hell out of straight men and that's the root of homophobia.

Why do you think a priest would molest younger boys instead of just having consensual sex with another priest? Because a priest must maintain male dominance and he is able to do this with a younger boy. It's pederasty in which the boy is a feminine subordinate partner and the male priest maintains his patriarchal role.

The Catholic Church keeps turning it around, saying it's a "homosexual" crisis. Because in their warped minds homosexuality is the greater sin...homosexuality is worse than pedophilia. They don't even believe the boys are victims. And in that way they're like NAMBLA. A bunch of self-loathing misogynists with so much internalized homophobia that they cannot handle a sexual encounter in the context of a grown man being submissive...like an ("inferior") woman.

While you note that religion teaches homosexuality is wrong, you have not addressed why they teach that homosexuality is wrong.

Female homosexuality isn't directly addressed by religion. Expression of female homosexuality is accepted when it's in the context of male entertainment and male pleasure because it's still submission. It only becomes a problem when men aren't part of the picture. Such as, two women raising a child and the absence of a father figure. Because how will that child learn about the patriarchy in a household that lacks a male patriarch?

Butch dykes are stigmatized as wannabe men that don't know their place as women. They're stereotyped as man-haters with penis envy. People might think "of course they want to be men, because men are superior." And most people don't make a distinction between butch dykes and transmen though neither are "wannabe" anything. They're masculine females and men respectively. But through the lens of heteronormativity people can't tell the difference, so all are stigmatized for the same reason. (And butch straight women sometimes get sucked into it because they're assumed to be gay.) It's not accepted because a person born female assuming a masculine role subverts the patriarchy.

If a female is masculine enough to be misgendered and yet attractive, homophobic straight men question their sexual orientation in finding a masculine woman attractive. So, we're back at homophobia. Otherwise lesbians are thought to be useless (and probably ugly) women to be pitied for their inability to get a man. But if the "right man" came along they would magically transform into feminine flowers.

If women just followed religion (the "true" one, not those liberal ones that allow women priests) they wouldn't be confused about their place and wouldn't seek out other women to, presumably, submit to. (Really, most people are very confused about lesbian sex. They think of it more as playing and cuddling and pillow fights.)

Heterosexual privilege exists because it encourages heterosexuality. Religion teaches that homosexuality is wrong and heterosexuality is right because homosexuality subverts the patriarchy and heterosexuality supports the patriarchy.

While other institutions may not explicitly teach that homosexuality is wrong, they do emphasize heteronormativity and that implies that homosexuality is wrong.

If you want to get rid of homophobia, you have to get rid of gender inequality, misogyny and heteronormativity. And I don't mean eradicating gender roles, but changing the way people think of them. People need to stop thinking of gender roles as static and assigned at birth, and the feminine role as inferior and masculine role as superior. Teach that feminine and masculine are of equal value, that being feminine doesn't automatically mean being submissive, and that submissiveness by choice isn't degrading for a man or a woman if that's what they want to be.

"Straight liberation" is when straight women aren't stigmatized if they're a single mother, or don't want to have children, or they're not married by 40, or are aggressive and competitive. And when straight men can be stay at home dad's, and cry, and be sensitive. It does not mean "being as wild" as gay people, but rather as free to be gender variant as gays are in the subculture LGBTs have created. And we show straight people how it's done by showing them our culture and being proud of it...and I mean all of it--the effeminate gay men, the butch lesbians, the transfolk included.

Gay people need to hit reverse and stop trying to achieve equality by assimilating into the dominant culture. Stop trying to get people to accept homosexuality without gender variance. Heteronormativity is destructive and oppressive to us all, even straight people.

All the article above addresses is sexual liberation for straight men, which they already have.

"Religion is used to justify and enforce heteronormative behavior, but it certainly is not the only institution that does."

What other institutions teach that "homosexuality is wrong?"

You're not asking the right question.

Heteronormativity is everywhere in the dominant culture. It's in the media, it's on TV and magazines. Heteronormativity is cisgender, cissexual and heterosexual combined. It doesn't explicitly teach that homosexuality is wrong, but teaches that heterosexuality is right, the default, superior, preferred, better than homosexuality.

And because people rather like feeling superior, they may tolerate homosexuality, they may even accept it, but they still want to maintain their heterosexual privilege because it makes them superior.

Religion is the only Institution that teaches that "homosexuality is wrong."

Thanks for your comment.

You can't get rid of homophobia by simply trying to stop religion from teaching homosexuality is wrong. It. will. not. work.

There is no shortcut.

We can't stop homophobia by stopping the teaching that it's wrong?

Wake up. Nothing else makes homosexuality wrong. Religion did that. Stop it and we make progress.

I'm confused, are you infected? Does religion have you?

I don't understand why you have so much trouble comprehending this.

We can't stop homophobia by stopping the teaching that it's wrong?

No, that alone won't cut it. It's not enough. You have to do more than that. Missing by the width of a hair is the same as missing by the height of a mountain.

Nothing else makes homosexuality wrong.

When a school teaches sex ed and fails to mention homosexuality, it teaches that homosexuality is wrong.

When a parent assumes their child is straight and teaches them all about heterosexuality and leave out the possibility of homosexuality, they teach their child homosexuality is wrong.

When the Democratic candidates keep saying they believe marriage is between a man and a woman, they teach that homosexuality is wrong.

When the military says gays serving openly would have a negative effect on unit cohesion, they teach that homosexuality is wrong.

Trees have many roots. I'm just saying, you won't cut the tree down if you cut off that one root (if you even succeed).

Pick one. Any institution other than religion.

That one does.

ellysabeth | April 16, 2010 8:23 PM

While I do agree with the other commenters in that it is dangerous and misguided to imply that TLBG people are more sexually liberated than heterosexual people, I also feel there is some useful truth here: heteronormativity is a shared delusion. If so-called 'straight' people had less hang-ups over their own kinks, were less repressive of their own harmless desires, life would be much easier for those of us who are not preoccupied with hiding from our own queerness. Less trouble with people projecting their own insecurities onto us and then symbolically flogging us in their place. Less 'us/them' false dichotomy going around. "Well, they're queer, and I'm not" is less useful as a divider if everyone is queer on some level.

Summary - I'm willing to cut this piece a little slack because I feel the writer's heart is in the right place, even if her foot is on a collision course with her mouth.

But every person - gay and straight - has a little bit of "gone wild" in them.
Um.... nope. Missed out on that bit.

In that way I'm ... boring I guess. My Idea of a riotous night out is to go to a restaurant with a friend. I did that once last year. And before that, about 3 years ago, with the local Sceptics group.

Sorry.

The message is "homophobia hurts straight people too." I can buy that.

Grace, thanks for this funny post. A clever and daring blend of commentary and satire! :)