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.
This is kind of in response to my previous post about Pop Diva’s and the queer community…and yeah, sorry guys but I just really love Top 40.
For those who haven’t heard this song you probably will in the next couple of months because I think it’s going to be her next single. She’s been filming the music video (which might have to lead to another debate depending on how it turns out). This is another example of the Pop Diva and her involvement with the queer community. HOWEVER, I don’t have much to debate here because she’s very honest in the song. Instead I just appreciate the melody and her sincerity. I would rather have you listen to the song instead of me explaining it. It’s like a little story. People take lyrics for granted in pop songs, or maybe just in music in general. I like the idea that someone stepped outside of the box and was real about something. It’s like a celebrity acknowledging their gay audience and embracing it, but still being true to themselves (instead of telling the world they’re “bi-curious”). She isn’t afraid of alienating herself. I’m just kind of surprised Rihanna, of all people, was the one to do it. I love her now.
I thought it would be interesting to consider the use of queer themes in music, especially since lately it has been seen a lot. A particular genre that has always been favored by the gays is that of the pop diva, which I do consider separate from pop as its own genre. Today it seems like these female musicians have really embraced their gay audience, as opposed to years ago where it might have taken years for someone like Cher to openly admit “this album was for the gays,” even though in the back of our minds we knew it always was. Now you have artists like Christina Aguilera who before even releasing her latest album came out and said she had the gays in mind when recording it. Britney Spears recorded a video message for the Logo Awards, talking about her love for the gays, and Beyonce basically reinvigorated her career by changing her persona to match that of a black queen. Interestingly though, not many in the mainstream might recognize this, so it brings up the question, are the gays getting the credit they deserve and is this credit giving them the appropriate kind of attention?
As I watched the premiere of this Christina Aguilera video today, I couldn’t help but notice the bondage theme, which is heavily associated with the gay culture, and of course, the woman she’s giving a lap dance to. She even says in the song “she’s kissing boys and girls” but the song is still called “Not Myself Tonight.” I get that the video is just for fun, but the abundance of sexuality in the video, along with the homosexual themes, is being used for shock value. She saves her reputation by stating several times “she’s not herself tonight,” so at the end of the day the idea of this girl-on-girl action is just being used for controversy, lacking any kind of substance, which is not what the queer culture needs. I didn’t really appreciate that Katy Perry song either, for the same reason. It’s not that I can’t appreciate the entertainment value of these songs, but I feel like they are using gay themes in the form of sexuality to grab people’s attention. People say, “wow look how far we’ve come,” but really I look at it as a step back because all we’re doing is alienating the gay culture as something that is inappropriate and not typical of normal human behavior. Christina happens to state at the beginning of the song “she’s out of character, and in rare form,” which I understand, because she’s heterosexual, but people should consider why it is she’s even using the gay scenario anyway. To represent her gay fan base? I don’t think so. What these divas can do to show their appreciation of the only people who *purchase* their records, is stop using gay themes for the sake of controversy, and just let people know who inspires their music. I don’t recall Beyonce stating any kind of formal support of gays yet, and we all know if it weren’t for her gay choreographers, she wouldn’t have won all of those Grammys. Christina might have made her latest album with the gays in mind, but she could have gone without featuring the homosexual scenes in her video, which obviously aren’t being used for any kind of advancement in awareness. If people hear about her interviews and how this album is inspired by her gay fan base and then watch this video, it would be very easy to associate them with ideas that only strengthen the stereotypes that we’re trying to move past.
Don’t get me wrong though, I LOVE this video. 😉
In class we have discussed Stuck Rubber Baby and Fun Home, two graphic novels that deal with issues such as sexuality, coming-of-age, and more. It occurred to me during these lectures that this isn’t my first experience with these themes in comic form.
I read a lot of webcomics—it’s part of my daily routine after stumbling out of bed and fixing a bowl of cereal. The list spans several genres. Around half of the comics I frequent handle sexuality as a major or recurring theme. It’s interesting to note that, unlike the works we’ve read in class, the city is a major setting instead of a more rustic place. For the most part the relationships portrayed are, with the exception of Penny and Aggie, played just as casually as anything else.
Something Positive, Questionable Content, and Girls with Slingshots are overall comedy/slice-of-life works that contains story arcs instead of one major plot. All three are set in New England cities (Something Positive has lengthy times in Texas as well), the stories revolve around the (mis)adventures of the characters, who are adults in their mid-twenties. Sex, love, life, and relationships come up often and in more or less humorous ways.
Much along the lines of South Park, Something Positive isn’t afraid to make any and everyone a target, going as far as the artist’s specific email for people—who can’t take a joke—to send hate-mail.
Penny and Aggie contains a large, predominantly female cast that gets a little hard to keep track of at times. Unlike the above comics I’ve mentioned, it is set in a suburban high school and all of the dramas associated with those four tumultuous years. Penny and Aggie focuses on a more coming-of-age story than the others. The teens deal with family, friends, enemies, and acceptance of self and by others. Brings back memories of high school cliques and why to avoid them.
The question I want to pose as food-for-thought is: Why comics? What makes comic (or graphic novel) form a seemingly popular medium for handling sexuality and growing up?
BLOG # 3
At thirteen, Mara resembled a ten-year-old. Her sister Julie had just gotten her period at the age of sixteen, leading to an influx of tampon boxes being sent in the mail from all of the female cousins that could relate to being a late bloomer. She was 4’10’’, eighty pounds, and extremely flat chested. Calling them mosquito bites would be a compliment. Often at school the boys would compliment her. “You are so unlike the other girls.” “It’s weird how you’re like, you know, cool and stuff.” She was cool. She played the trumpet and would play football outside at recess. She had already traveled outside of the country and was in honors math.
Mara’s least favorite song was “The Electric Slide.” Every time she heard the song, it felt like a raccoon crawled into her stomach, got rabies, and died. Normally a stable, thirteen year old girl, Mara warped into something completely different as soon as the song came on. Irritable, angry, and fierce, she found it bizarre that she had such an adverse reaction to a seemingly simple tune.
At Danny Martin’s Bar-Mitzvah, all was going well until she heard those fateful lyrics. Excusing herself from the kid’s table, she ran out of the room before any boogy woogy woogies could take hold of her. She stumbled into the lobby of the Marriott and sat down on the welcome couch. Mara hated the thought of missing any crucial moments of socializing, but a girl had to do what a girl had to do. She looked down to check her brand new cell phone and when she looked up her heart skipped a beat. There he was. Mike Jankowski. Mara was in love with him. No other person in the world could possibly feel what she felt for Mike Jankowski. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t good at math or that he was shorter than the other boys. It was how much he didn’t realize how amazing he was that drew her to him. He looked around the room and then plopped down next to her on the couch.
“I hate the Electric Slide,” he said matter of factly. “I had to get out of there.”
Suddenly it all made sense. She probably hated the Electric Slide because somewhere in her heart she knew that her soul mate might hate it too. They sat and talked for about five minutes and then headed back into the reception room. This will be our little secret, she thought to herself. If other people know, they might want to come out and join.
Between December and May Mara and Mike were both invited to ten Bar Mitzvahs. At every single one, Mara sat patiently, waiting for the dreaded song to begin. Sure enough, each time the song came on, there Mike would be, seemingly waiting for her in the lobby.
During the final Bar-Mitzvah of the year, Mara knew that she had to raise the stakes. She needed to know if Mike felt the same way about her as she did him. She made the decision that during the “Electric Slide” she would ask him a very important question in the lobby.
Half of the reception had passed and the song still hadn’t come on. She put on a pair of the free sunglasses they threw out during the song “Shout!” and slipped into the back. Cautiously, she wrote down “Electric Slide” on the DJ request list and then headed back to her seat. Luckily, in the last hour of the party, the song was played and she could experience her favorite part of her friends’ coming of ages.
As Mike approached her, she knew that the past six months must have been as special to him as they were to her. She was ready.
“Mike?” she asked.
“Yeah,” he grunted.
“What do you look for in a girl?” Her heart was pounding. She hoped that he couldn’t feel the heat that was rising through her body. She licked her lips, hoping to make them look plumper as he answered. This was it.
“Cleavage,” he responded. “I like a girl with a lot of cleavage.”
With that, he was met in the lobby by Lesley Simmons. They left together and headed towards the nearest closet. As they walked away, Mara heard Lesley say, “Why did you ask me to meet you out here now? I love the ‘Electric Slide.’”
Sadly, I was inspired to write this post by the movie “Shallow Hal.” Please, stop groaning and judging. In one part of the movie, one of the characters refers to a female as having “Ugly Duckling Syndrome.” He explains this syndrome as girls who were ugly growing up and therefore had to rely on their social skills to get by. This inspired me to post this short story, based on one of my real life experiences.
Granted, I’m not saying that I was necessarily an eyesore, but I went through puberty REALLY late, forcing me to realize that I couldn’t rely on my looks in middle school. Other females could strut around with their newly formed curves and boobs, but I suddenly had to work for attention.
I feel that this phenomenon relates to this class because it highlights the idea of sexuality and aging. We’ve discussed societal norms as they relate to things all over the spectrum such as body type, race, sexuality, relationships, etc. Having gone through this history with delayed puberty, I think that I was able to focus in on the effect of feeling like an outsider in a certain sense and dealing with the crossroads of how to mold myself in order to fit in with the rest of society. This isn’t to say that I changed who I was as a person, but rather that I was struck with the limitations that sexuality and desire can bring. As a child, I never had to worry about things like body type, but ever since people started changing before I did, I was hit with it over the head and have never let the lessons go.
“The social pressure to conform to one sexual standard is huge — and this is true, in varying degrees, throughout most of the modern world” (Thomas).
As younger sister of a brother, I was immensely influenced during my childhood by him and adopted many tomboy characteristics. Although I was born into a life thinking that ice skating and ballet dancing were my forte, my older brother’s influence on playing video games and wearing baggy clothing made it seem as if I was living a double life through my entire childhood, and to this current day. Understanding where the roles of parental, sibling and societal influence on gender identity are placed has helped me see how gender identity influences the children in our society and personally relate the understanding to my tomboy characteristics. My life experience leads to an issue we have raised in class but that I feel has no received enough attention.
In our recent reading, “Fun Home”, the gender identity of Alison Bechdel was not fully portrayed until her college years. Although it was not specific in her story, I believe that she struggled through gender identity through her childhood in the presence of her father as well as her experience in college. I don’t think that Alison’s story primarily dealt with being a lesbian or queer until she arrived to college and had to conform into her social surroundings as a lesbian. She then decided to come out to her parents, whom were not shocked at all. Whereas Alison displayed tomboy characteristics her whole life and also displayed all the attributes of a “lesbian to be”, I feel differently in my own childhood experience.
I think this is where gender identity intersects with sexuality. Where Alison was a tomboy growing up and later became a lesbian, I did not. Gender identity is still a subject to which I am so confused about. I do believe that gender identity is hugely influenced by society, but I am not sure why we are so impacted by it. I like to imagine what kind of society we would be if we were not so influenced by gender identity. Would sexism and animosity against both sexes be avoided? Would feminism not have taken place? What would LGBT studies be like? Etc.
“Middle Sexes”. Director Antony Thomas. Performers Noah, Calpernia, Max, Veejay, Nandini, Kui and Elli. 2009. DVD. HBO Documentary Films. 2009.
One doesn’t have to be too immersed into the gamer world to view some opinions on sexuality. It’s a frequent attack over Xbox LIVE—along with race and gender. Boys like to use insults behind the anonymity of a headset and a TV screen to feel manly. It is what it is.
Back in October of 2009, The Escapist, a popular online gaming magazine, ran its usual weekly themed issue—this time titled “Queer Eye for the Gamer Guy.” The themed articles for the week focused on sexuality in gaming. One article, “Too Gay for the U.S.A,” summarizes the depiction of homosexuality in gaming. Such themes are less offensive in Japan than in America, and American publishers are either quick to edit or quick to refuse to sell the content on our side of the Pacific. The Escapist has some rather interesting reads beyond the realm of videogame reviews that delve into the psyche of gamers, and issues amongst the genre.
Link to the issue: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/features/issue/222)
Race, sexuality, and gender are equally big topics in gaming. In several reviews, game critic Yahtzee has been quick to point out how conveniently enemies in recent releases feature minorities as enemies against a white, manly, American figure. (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/27-Uncharted-Drakes-Fortune) I linked to an article above that depicts what happens to the geek culture when gender objectification reverses itself in a series of popular, if of questionable quality, books. Depictions of women have long and often been stereotyped and unfair in geek culture, but since this area is largely dominated by men and boys this goes overlooked.
It’s easy to write gaming off as something simply for men and boys, or geeks altogether. With geek culture spilling over into mainstream media, however, perhaps it’s time for a closer analysis. From The Escapist, I discovered a few other blogs that are pertinent to the issue—for anyone interested in doing a little extra poking around.
When I was home for spring break, I went with my family to see Chicago at our local dinner theater. I had a HUGE Chicago phase when I was in middle school– it’s almost embarrassing– but I hadn’t seen the play or the movie in years. Looking back on it after seeing it again, I missed a lot of what was going on in that play, especially during Matron “Mama” Morton’s “When You’re Good to Mama.” You know, the one Queen Latifa sang in the movie version? I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I was just a quasi-oblivious twelve year-old who really like jazz, but when I looked into it further I noticed a lot of differences between the stage version I’d seen once and the movie version let’s just say I saw more than once.
In the stage version of Chicago, Matron “Mama” Morton is a butch lesbian. Below is a clip from the movie, with Queen Latifa as Mama singing “When You’re Good to Mama.” Is it just me, or is this Mama neither butch nor even definitively a lesbian?
If you consider the lyrics of the song in the context of the all-women prison that Mama runs, and if you isolate the scenes which take place in the “reality” of the prison, the meaning is relatively clear. What complicates the meaning in this clip, I think, is its layers of performance. Mama sings for a rich, white, heterosexual, and predominantly-male audience. Almost all of sexual innuendo is directed at men in the audience, when in reality Mama interacts mainly with women. The gray uniform (with pants and a high neckline) that she wears to work is replaced by a shimmering and low-cut silk dress while she sings for the audience. Mama is sexualized (read: heterosexualized) in her performance on stage, but is desexualized in the context of the women’s prison.
I’ve created a visual representation of the layers of performativity in this scene, in the contexts of race, class, gender, and sexuality. You can click on it to make it bigger.
The original play does not have this song literally performed to a heterosexual male audience, and I’m not sure whether the movie was trying to make a statement or if the scene was changed for other reasons. The movie medium does allow for more costume and set changes, so the change may have been envisioned to make the scene more visually appealing. The scene may also be playing off of some sort of “girl-on-girl” fantasy of the heterosexual male. Alternatively, the director may be making a statement about the exclusion of a non-heterosexual sexuality from discourse, even in the so-called era of sexual freedom of the 1920s… maybe…
Color My Love
My love is colored
Brightly and proudly and broadly
My pale white skin
The color of acceptance
My feminine desire for her feminine grasp around my feminine waist
The color of rejection
Yet I still proclaim my colored love
Black Prince of my Kingdom
Obligated to color my love with a Queen
My only desire is for him to bow between me and I between he
The ruler of my body and the ruler of my throne
I’m a Prince in search of a King
My gayness does not color me weak
My color of strength and his love will further strengthen me
Throw me at the hands of death
I do not mind dying if I can die loving he
My love is colored
Not suppose to mix and match shades
Told to direct my love only the opposite way
But I want to mix and match shades
The Asian and the Black
The Hispanic and the White
I want to stroke the same shade over and over again
Women with Women
Men with Men
I colored my love
You don’t have to watch me paint
But don’t negatively judge my work
I’m proud of the art
This poem articulates how race-queer intersectionality can be cause a struggle when we try to mix the two in intimate relationships . In the LGBTQ community we want equality but we have to realize that we live in a state that denies those equalities to other citizens based on race, class, gender (identity), nationality, religious affiliation, or anything that allows our bodies and lives to be marked as a sign of deviance. Therefore if we want equality for the LGBT community we must realize and must continue to be connected with the liberation of all oppressed people especially racial discrimination. If we continue to separate them it will continue to be a struggle to blend race and queerness. It will continue to be conflicts with the idea of, “not only are you a gay couple but your interracial too.” This poem embodies the idea that love is love and that queerness and race have an interconnection that is intimate and people shouldn’t be judged for trying to blend the two together. “I colored my love you don’t have to watch me paint, but don’t negatively judge my work I’m proud of the art.”
In class we have discussed people that come from all different aspects of queerness and race. Throughout this semester, I have been very intrigued by the word “queerness.” I feel that each class I am constantly considering new ways that the word can be used and interpreted. A couple of weeks back we discussed the idea of marriage and how it can relate to queerness. I’ve been considering a lot of the comments made that day and have been most intrigued by the intricacies of where queerness begins and ends.
For example, a non-married 24-year-old might represent a “norm” but once she hits 32? Dear God, watch out for that queer crone. Yet, a divorced forty-year-old at this point in our society represents a norm like any other. (God forbid that same forty year old was never married. Can we say coockoo?)
To take this matter further to a topic not delved into while in class, I wanted to shine some light on another aspect of marriage as it applies to society today. In a world where certain strides have been made in the acceptance of queer individuals, I think it is interesting to think of people who initially joined in the practice of heterosexual marriage and are now “coming out.” Whether this be as cross dressers, homosexuals, transgendered individuals, or anything else, these types of changes can produce a queerness explosion. Suddenly, because marriage initially took place, we are introduced to the “Queer Family.” Children with queer parents, queer spouses, queer grandparents! Unfortunately, I have not been able to find specific statistics on this type of thing, but did find some links that might be helpful in providing more information on the issue.
STORIES OF SOME INDIVIDUALS WHO CAME OUT AFTER MARRIAGE
WEBSITE THAT PROVIDES SUPPORT FOR STRAIGHT SPOUSES.
It is put together by “Current and former Straight Spouses/Partners of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people, Mixed Orientation Couples and our Families and Friends.”
MOVEMENT DEVELOPED FOR KIDS WITH ONE OR MORE LGBTQ PARENT.
I find some of the research and “facts” to be pushing it a bit, but appreciate the movement.