A Newsweek journalist criticized gay actors claiming that “it’s ok for straight actors to play gay” but “it’s rare for someone to pull off the trick in reverse”. The article argues that out gay actors are not believable as straight characters and points specifically to Sean Hayes and Jonathan Groff. The article has spawned controversy and a response letter from Kristen Chenoweth**.
A recent poll of Maryland voters has found that 46% favor same-sex marriage and 44% are opposed while 10% have no opinion. Comparing this poll with those from previous years, it seems that Maryland voters are slowly shifting towards a majority favoring same-sex marriage and supporting the recognition of the rights of couples married in other states.
Recently the administration of Hope College in Michigan brought their policy on homosexuality up for a review. Hope College, a traditionally Christian college, was addressing the concerns of petitioners who began mobilizing in 2009 after the administration did not allow a screening of the film “Milk” to be held on campus.
All of these stories represent an array of differing aspects of the Queer/Race crossroads. The queering of individuals in the arts, in politics, and in education are all hot button issues going on at the moment. I thought that it was important to find articles that were both positive and negative. While the writer of the first article is, in my opinion, setting the image of gay actors back 50 years (if not more), the poll made me feel a bit more optimistic about the acceptance of queer individuals. I also thought it was interesting to read about the “gay policy” of a religious college. Being a product of public schools for my whole life, I can’t imagine going to a college that would have a policy that condemns homosexuality but “supports fair and kind treatment for people with homosexual orientation”. How is it “fair” to condemn someone’s identity whether sexual, racial, etc.? Even more surprising to me was the Newsweek article’s criticism of out gay actors. The article seriously implied that gay actors would have better careers if they did not come out. By criticizing both Hayes and Groff, both of whom have recently officially come out, the writer is supporting a culture in which actors stigmatize themselves.
“Hey, are you busy ? Is there anyone around in your apartment ?” My father must have been able to tell that I had him on speaker phone.
“Nope, it’s just me,” I replied.
“Okay, can I ask you a question?”
I wasn’t sure what he was going to ask about. Probably something about school or maybe my plans for the summer. My father was always, always worried about the future. Or maybe it was about the trip we were going on that weekend to visit my grandparents in New England. I was bringing along a friend this time, and my grandparents were pretty deep in their religious faith. Maybe he didn’t want my friend to hear. Did he have some news?
“Okay…Are you gay?” It was the last question I had expected to hear from his mouth.
“Am I what?” I asked, startled by the question that came with out any forewarning. Maybe I misheard?
“Are you gay?” he repeated.
“NO I’M NOT GAY!” I shouted quickly into the phone, surprised by not only his questions but how defensive I got. “What the-?”
Immediately, my mind raced back to all the lesbian-ish things I had done in my life. I remembered the time my dad found a picture of me pretending to kiss a girl in high school and how disturbed he was (Those kissy pictures were cool back then). I thought back to the times when I had really kissed girls. But was I “gay” in actuality? No! I wasn’t gay. But now my dad apparently believed so.
“Now, hold on, hold on!” he said, interrupting what would have unintentionally been a string of cuss words that I learned to use so elegantly in college. “I was just wondering!”
Wondering? Had I really given off that gay vibe?
“Well, where in the world did you get that from?”
“A friend of mine apparently saw on one of your social websites, Twitter or Facebook, that you were in a relationship with a girl. Are you?” he asked again. I felt a sigh a relief. My best friend and I had put that silly status up months before as a joke. I tried to explain this to my father.
“Noooo, Dad! That was just a joke. She’s my best friend. We did it as a joke,” I said, attempting to explain to my father how “In a Relationship” with your best friend on Facebook was humorous. He didn’t laugh. “I’m not gay, I’m serious!”
“Well, okay. Well, that’s good. I mean, if you were gay, that’d be fine too!”
“Dad, I’m not gay…”
“I was just thinking about this all week. And then you invited your girl friend on our trip to New England, and I thought that was your girlfriend. And then, I was going to ask you about it this weekend, but I didn’t want to ask it in front of Grandma and Grandpa, and it’s just…”
“Dad!” I laughed. “I’m really not gay!”
“Okay, are you sure? Because you know, I don’t care about that! I’d accept you either way. I was just wondering how you would have kids, would you adopt or…”
“DAD! I am NOT gay!” He had clearly been thinking about this for awhile, and it was so embedded in his head that he refused to believe that I was actually straight. “You will have grandchildren, okay? Lots!”
“Okay, phew! Good. But wait, not too soon right? Wait a little while!” he joked.
“Yes, Dad,” I giggled.
“Okay, that’s all I wanted to ask you!”
“Okay, Dad. I’ll talk to you later.” We exchanged our goodbyes with awkward laughs and I hung up the phone and realized how much I loved my dad.
After the conversation with my dad, I will admit I had to reflect on my past few crazy years in college. He had been so convinced that I was gay during that conversation that it actually scared me, setting me back into a self-conscience and confused reflection. I had experienced a plethora of things in that five minute conversation with my father that made me really sit back and not only take a look at myself, but at the queerness of it all.
- Coming Out? Although, I did not come out in this equation, because I am indeed a straight heterosexual female (who admittedly happens to appreciate other females), I felt as if I almost had, or as if I easily could have came out to my father; A privilege that I realize many homosexuals, attempting or wanting to come out to their parents, do not have. (Actually, a privilege that many heterosexuals with their regular, straight issues don’t even have lol). Taking this Queer Race (ENGL459Q) class had almost made me want to call my father back and say “Yes, I am gay!” just to see if his accepting reaction would still be the same. Would he suddenly be caught by surprise? Had he wholeheartedly thought I was gay, or maybe just a smidgen? I wondered. But the fact that he had wasted no to little time waiting on his daughter to come out to him made me feel proud.
- Double Standard. It’s obvious. As a woman, I feel as though we are allowed to be as sexual and as sexually open as we want and it’s often considered erotic or in plain terms “hot”. I can kiss girls on a drunken night or dance a little too close. I can take kissy pictures with friends and I’m still a heterosexual. (To some, apparently not my dad lol). But see a man kissing another man after a few too many beers, man taking a kissy photo with another man, or dancing a little too close to a man. That’s “homo” and it’s only right to call it “homo”. Why is that?
The tantalizing looks that two women being sexual with each other receive will be undoubtedly different than two men doing the same. I feel as though it’s unfortunately a double standard I even hold myself to. I can act “gay” and do things that are “gay”, but not be gay. A man who experimented in college with men, but is now married to a woman with children (WITHOUT any Christian intervention, but as a personal choice) would be looked at completely different than a woman who experimented in college and was not turned heterosexual.
I’m not a particular fan of double standards or anything unfair for that matter lol. Therefore I tried to think outside society’s box. If a person’s sexuality was based not just on their apparent present actions and sexual preferences, but on their past sexual preferences, are they gay? I, for a moment, subjected myself to the man’s side of the double standard and was displeased, as I questioned myself and feared that perhaps, acting out on my urges, whether sober or drunken, may have given people the wrong idea about my sexuality.
And then I thought again about how little I regretted about my past (It’s not as scandalous as I’m making it sound) and how momentarily ashamed I was to be so defensive about being questioned about my sexuality. Why couldn’t I have just answered with a simple “no” without all the defensive dramatics? There’s nothing wrong with being gay.
Kissing girls or not, it was obvious that it what I wanted to do at the time. I know that generally speaking, I am not gay. Although I find women physically attractive, I am secure in my heterosexuality to know that I am physically, mentally, emotionally, sexually, etc., etc., and all of the above ways, attracted to men. However, society, as we allow it, infamous for unfairly creating and placing labels on people, could generally convince others of different. I find it incredibly funny how it’s essential for society to make and enforce these labels, and how uncomfortable these labels can sometimes make us because what other people relate to them, and we are unfortunately a product of it all.
One thing that I learned from this whole, now very humorous situation, is that it’s SO IMPORTANT for people to define themselves by their own terms, not others, and not societies. The Census gives you Black, White, and Hispanic. What if you want to check all three? What if you don’t fit in the box? What happens then? You define you. And when you define you and become comfortable with your own label without having to check in with society, that’s when you become comfortable with yourself!
– Brittany Britto
The only thing I could think about was if I’d be welcome at temple after I told them. I don’t even go to temple that often. I kept freaking out, not knowing what they would say. I mean, they’re my parents. They have to love and support me, no matter what, right? RIGHT? I still didn’t know what to think or how to act. I thought my “subtle” hints in the last year should have tipped them off, and that they would talk to me about it. But no, they never said anything. They never address anything unless it’s hitting them in the face. And even at that, it takes them a while to pick up on it and digest. Why am I still thinking about temple?! Will the rest of my family accept me? What about my grandparents? Oh god, they’re all so prude with convention. I wonder if I can convince them that this is my convention? Will they buy it, will they understand? No, I don’t even want them to understand, because that would just be ridiculous. I just want them to accept me. I want my family to understand that love is love, and that’s all that matters. That is how they taught me how to live, actually. Live, love, be happy. That’s all they want me to live up to, so they’ll have to be at least kinda okay with it, right?
These were some of the many things that were going through my head, as I was about to come out to my mom. Things that I actually never put into coherent words until now. My parents were pretty accepting. The only thing was, that I was not allowed to tell anyone else in my family. My parents didn’t think anyone else would be able to handle it. This whole thought process basically shows how I was so scared to mess with tradition and culture if I came out to my parents. It went as far as caring about going to temple, which I never thought about before. It was so nerve wracking at the time I was coming out, but now I think I’m stronger for it. The only thing is that I still cant tell the rest of my family, and is still wonder what reactions I may get when the time does come for me to tell them. One thing I do know, though, is that I’m not so scared because I’ll have my parents by my side, with or without their conventions.