Alex Blaze

Act Straight

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 20, 2011 7:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Quote of the Day
Tags: homophobic behavior, kelly james, Winthrop University

"I've got to let my students know [about the attack], so when they're out and about in Rock Hill they act straight."

--Kelly James, professor of sociology and criminology at Winthrop University and LGBT student group advisor, in the town where a flaming gay man was beaten by a group of attackers who shouted antigay epithets

Update: Professor James is saying the quote was taken out of context, that it was part of a longer paragraph and was meant as sarcasm.

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Because that'll fix all the problems!


Laurie Edwards | April 20, 2011 8:49 AM

Instead of teaching/telling your LGBT students to "act straight," you might want to teach them karate and get them carry permits.

Ostensibly, this is coming from a supporter of, and advisor to, LGBT students, who wants them to be safe.

It's no less heinous, though, than blaming rape victims for wearing the wrong clothes and inciting their own crime.

In my mind, the comment raises questions about Ms. James' qualifications to support LGBT students. Have all of the students she has worked with been only a swish or a haircut over the line from "acting straight" to being perceived as gay?

I've known Dr. James for many years and worked with her in the past. As I understand the situation that quotation is an inaccurate representation of her position.

I promise you Dr. James wouldn't seriously propose this as a solution to the problems of anti-gay violence. She has worked tirelessly with Winthrop's GBLT group and is both capable and caring.

california panda | April 20, 2011 5:17 PM

Maybe it's time to start doing your own gay patrol "sting" operations. One "flamer" as point and 5 maybe 6 "bears" as main combat force. Personally I believe that a well-armed gay is much less likely to be bashed than an unarmed one. And 6 or 7 are a force to be reckoned with.

This seemed to work about 6 yrs ago in Wilton Manors, FL.

This may be a task for the Pink Pistols.
Actually, I am a bit concerned about the uproar around her advice.
Yes, blaming the victim is not OK, and yes, there are certain times and/or places that I will not go. Should I be able to go there? Of course.Should I be able to go there dressed in any manner that is marginally legal, and be safe? Of course.
Is this the way it is? C'mon what are you
smoking? In this situation, in this place, at this time, regretably, "Look straight out there." is IMHO excellent advice. Joani

Yes, I'm inclined to agree. Also, it is out of context. Her whole interview (including the part where she says it's sad in this day and age that she would have to even think to advise someone to act straight) is here:

But this does bring up some interesting questions about safety and martyrdom. On principal, do you advise people to be themselves and to stand for their (your) beliefs, knowing they might suffer for it? Or do you advise them to cave to the system for temporary self-preservation? I am the first one to want to challenge others and to actively use my self to disrupt the status quo, but I also sit in a place of privilege (so perhaps it's easier for me to promote certain stances).