Here Come the Gays..

Since we live in a very straight-forward, structured society where right is right and anything else is taboo, anal sex seems to be a reoccurring loop hole. From the article “Anal Sex: Phallic and Other Meanings” by Simon Hardy, we can understand how society constructs and deconstructs what types of anal sex, if any, are socially acceptable and how anal sex is used in general.

While reading, I couldn’t help feeling that the article itself, a scholarly work, is itself quite heteronormative. It hardly mentions the gay community in any way, let alone a positive one. In regard to many other concepts discussed in class, the gays just seem to be outcast. So, I beg the question: where exactly do the gays fit?

From the article, Hardy suggests that anal sex, like vaginal sex, involves a heterosexual couple. Although when the article does happen to mention the gay community, it denotes the gays as ‘risky behavior’ (107). Other examples of risky behavior as outlined by the article include sex work and drug use. Anal sex also is degrading, according to Hardy. Therefore, we can infer that since the act is degrading, the people who engage in the act are also degrading. From this comparison, what can we conclude about the stigma that gay is bad and straight is right?

First off, consider the effect advertisement and media. Calvin Klein underwear billboards, perfume ads, and even television commercials are all very hetero-centric because of the social binary that everyone wants to see: a hot blonde girl hovering over a man with abs, both almost naked. Recently, however, a controversial Banana Republic ad depicted two gay men lying in the grass.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/21/business/media/banana-republic-ads-with-real-life-unions-includes-a-gay-couple.html?_r=0

Why exactly is society so persistent in outcasting the LGBT community? What kind of effect will this ad have on future ads? Are we making progress as a more encompassing society?

Furthermore, the alienation of gays reaches into the fag discourse. The logic built around social areas is that if you’re a straight man, the gays are out to get you! WATCH OUT! Even in high school, it’s important to signal heterosexuality. It’s under the assumption as a teenager that if you aren’t one thing, you’re the other. If you can’t prove your attraction to girls (which plays into rape culture), then you’re OBVIOUSLY gay. God forbid catch a glance of another guy in the locker room…

From my own experience as a gay man, I find it very difficult at times to break away from the stigma that I was essentially born into. As aforementioned, high school is a shark tank, especially if you are perceived as ‘weird’ or anything other than normal. Gay, faggot, fag, queer, all those degrading and derogatory words are used frequently as ‘buzz words’ and are usually in context with bad things. As an adult, now it’s becoming more evident of the social ramifications of gays and how they are perceived outside of the high school realm. According to society, all gays have spray tans, pearly white teeth, and ride in their German car blasting Madonna and Cyndi Lauper. It’s almost as if society doesn’t want to think of us as anything else. We’re all super feminine, carry designer bags, and wear oversized sunglasses. What’s important at this point is for us all, regardless of how society perceives us as individuals, is to break away from our stigmatized social standing and fight back against that binary. Everyone, aside from the football-player-marries-cheerleader type that society deems normal and acceptable, is outcast, alienated, or stigmatized in some way.

So, what are the gays doing to fight back against this social outcast? Since gays are part of the ‘non-normative’ society, they’ve decided to organize their own communities and structure their inner culture with gay-friendly products, people, and services. Locally, we have Church Street, filled with several gay bars and clubs. East Nashville is home to MadDonna’s and the Lipstick Lounge. Around the country, larger cities have specific parts of the town dedicated to the gay community. For instance, New York has Greenwich Village, Chicago has Boys’ Town, and Los Angeles has WeHo (West Hollywood). Commercially, the gay culture has created its own predominantly gay clothing line and underwear lines, such as Andrew Christian. In this way, the gay community seems to be less dependent on heterosexuals and non-accepting individuals by building their own support groups and ways of living.

On outbuzz.net, I recently discovered someone who, writing under the initials JWB, further discusses his personal experience with the gay culture how the community works.

“Be it Twink, Jock, Bear, Leather, Jock, etc. our culture is very quick to sort, classify, and categorize themselves based on race, body type, hair, activities, and age.”

JWB finds the community to be rather demanding and quick to judge, much like the song “Mean Gays” by Australian entertainer and RuPaul’s contestant Courtney Act implies. From an insider, much like JWB, I find the song to be VERY stereotypical and quite comical. Have a listen.

As a society, we can agree that many different ethnicities, sexualities, races, and religious groups are marginalized. However, there seems to be some progress being made in the gay community, with the inclusion and institution of social media and smaller communities within cities. What can we do to further improve the way things are going and eventually destroy the binary once and for all? Is this ideal even possible in today’s world? What changes would have to be made for this to be possible?

6 thoughts on “Here Come the Gays..

  1. I honestly believe that there is no way we can improve the way things are going and will never be able to destroy the binary once and for all. This ideal is not possible in today’s world sorry to say it, for example I was eating lunch with one of my friends and a gay guy walked by and the first thing he said was look at this faggot ass dude. This is something that I strongly feel will never change in today’s world, because people are entitled to their own feelings and opinions, so if they feel the need to call someone out that’s what they’re going to do.

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    • @turnerxe When you say “people are entitled to their own feelings and opinions, so if they need to call someone out that’s what they’re going to do,” what exactly is being called out in the example you gave, why would someone feel the NEED to call someone out, and what feeling or opinion is being expressed? In other words, I’d like for us all, you included, to think critically about the example you gave us. According to the ACLU, there’s been a rise in verbal abuse and violence directed at people of color, lesbians and gay men, and other historically persecuted groups, especially on college and university campuses. We’ve also discussed at great length–-as does @anon2014 in this wonderful post–-the social implications and byproducts of “fag discourse.” So let’s think, if we find ourselves in a situation in which someone is engaging in hate speech–“look at this faggot ass dude”–what are some of the *choices* we can make as bystanders in the situation? And why might it be beneficial to be an active bystander rather than saying or doing nothing?

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  2. First, I just want to say how much I love the play on words found throughout the beginning of this article. Very witty of you! However, I reread Hardy’s article and, although I agree that the gay community is underrepresented, I did not find the reference to “risky behavior” which you stated is found on page 107 for classifying gays. Perhaps I misunderstood your reference? Instead, i found the section on how anal sex can be a health risk very neutral. It is in fact a health risk if people are “barebacking” as the article calls it. And, in my opinion at least, people seem to be more comfortable not using condoms when having anal sex because there is no risk for unwanted pregnancy. Obviously this does not apply for gay couples, but the risk of transmitting HIV or other STD’s is very prevalent among both the straight and gay communities because of this protection-less phenomenon.

    I am an avid reader of all things pop-fiction. I like to know what the children and teens I am working with are learning through books and it helps me keep up. Recently, I have been reading the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. In this book individuals divide themselves into factions based on a salient aspect of their identities so that the world can operate more smoothly. Of course, this system fails and mass chaos takes its place. I find the same thing happens when we discuss the Straight vs. LGBTQI…x? communities. We are dividing ourselves up by our sexual preferences because that is human nature. But what does that really do for us as a society? Yes it allows individuals who feel marginalized to form communities, but would they even feel marginalized if it were not for these labels that we ascribe to others? I hate labels. Labels are for soup cans, not people. If we keep trying to create more categories into which we can shove individuals eventually we we have billions of categories and they will lose their meaning because no one can possibly keep up. So what is the point? How many more letters will we add before everyone wakes up and says, “Oh wait, we are human.” instead of trying to divide among meaningless lines of skin tone, religion, gender, sexual orientation etc. I’m not saying these differences are meaningless, but when one group has to fight to be recognized by the other, the system is clearly flawed. I hope one day I see a world where we quit trying to make people fit into neat categories. IF all of these were abolished and instead we were left with the category of “human” then perhaps the world would not be so very torn along these invisible lines.

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    • Great question @destinynlagarce — and one worth addressing directly– when you ask, “what does that [labels] really do for us as a society? Yes it allows individuals who feel marginalized to form communities, but would they even feel marginalized if it were not for these labels that we ascribe to others?” Let’s ask ourselves, why might certain communities want a label, one that is recognizable in society, even if it is joined with others in a long acronym like LGBTQI? And how does self-labeling work with or against dynamics of social marginalization? (Seidman’s chapter on the history of gay and lesbian politics can help us here…)

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  3. I really enjoyed your take on the criticism of Anal Sex: Phallic and Other Meanings by Simon Hardy. I had not realized how critical the article was of the gay community and how supportive it was of a heteronormative society. A way to continue the improvements in destroying the binary could be through continuing these communities that fight against the binary Through fostering support for each of its members, these communities can build self-esteem and encourage members to take action. As a result of an increase in action being taken, I think that a lot of the stigmas that arise with “fag discourse” will be eliminated because of a greater sense of acknowledgement for the gay community.

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  4. I really liked how you tied in the marginalization of the gay community in terms of anal sex with the perpetuation of fag discourse. Ignoring an entire community that is typically associated with a type of sexual behavior can only be viewed as an antagonistic attitude toward that community. This in turn, plays into heteronormative attitudes in modern society, and alienates any and every identity that is not cisgender and heterosexual. Destroying the sexual and gender binaries that exist today is a very difficult task, but not one that cannot be accomplished. As this generation of adolescents continues to mature and have a larger influence on legislation and culture ideals, hopefully the normative ideologies that have been in place for generations before us can start to get dismantled.

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