I’d like to start this one by saying that I am so glad to see how much more comfortable folks seem to be with the gay community in their midst. We see it more on TV portrayed as a regular part of life. We see more groups of younger people in high schools and younger exposed to the gay community and supporting it in parades and such. In more neighborhoods, gay and lesbian couples are more often seen walking hand in hand down the public street. And a recent video of a beautiful engagement flash mob for a young gay couple went viral fairly rapidly. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4HpWQmEXrM One of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, personally.
For a number of years, more and more, ‘sexual preference’ – while not the most PC term for it as it is not a preference at all but a state of reality – has found it’s way into many lists of non-discriminatory behaviors. This is something I also recognize as a really strong move in a happier direction. Even in college level classrooms, on the first day of class during discussions of the semester and syllabus, the rules are laid out. And one of the rules is in regards to respecting each other as a group, regardless of culture, race, etc, etc. And it’s very nice. Until ‘gay’ comes up.
A student asked another his name. He told it, and the questioning student thought it sounded like a game name. He thought she said gay, and was quick to point out that he was a MAN.
A teacher was describing the meaning of ‘cynical’, and set up an example of himself left fairly far from his home. He indicated a student for the example, and set up that the student’s character had offered to drive him home to be nice. The cynical person’s response – in the example – was ‘What, is he gay?”. The class erupted in laughter, the student involved turned red, and so it went.
On buses and trains and walking down the street, I still very often hear comments and conversations involving such themes. “What, is he gay?!” “That’s SO gay!” “He was such a fag!” And on it goes.
So….respecting all cultures within a college classroom environment is quite wonderful. Except when gay people still end up the joke or the fear. It’s great to see more gay related events advertised in public venues…until the above quoted comments are expressed. And my response is always the same.
Do you have any idea who you are talking to? Who you are talking around? Is that person sitting near one on the train while another talk loudly about ‘that fag’ himself gay? Or maybe the person one is talking TO? When one is overheard loudly mentioning how ‘mental’ or ‘retarded’ or such someone is, is that person in earshot dealing with a challenge involving the emotions or the brain’s processes?
Yes, I think that slowly, we are starting to become more aware and accepting. It’s taking a long time, but I do believe it is happening. Which is why so often for me, I am even more impressed with how much of what I experience as ignorance is still so profound in an enlightening society. If one is aware if a thing from a different perspective than one had previously, mightn’t one pause and think before speaking?
Maybe it is more about a concept of ‘culture’ or ‘community’. Maybe the gay community is not yet widely viewed as a culture. Maybe that’s the main problem? For indeed, it is one. And it is one that is not often obvious….indeed, I’d say rarely. There are some blatant exceptions, of course, from people who are so completely proud and unafraid to be who they experience themselves to be everywhere they go. But for the most part, one thing has not changed.
Black people cannot hide that they are black….it’s obvious. Many Central American or Latino folks can’t either. Asian….again, not so much for many of them.
But gay can be not obvious. So can German, So can Italian, So can Irish, English. Lutheran. Pagan. Republican. Bi-polar. Abuse. A great many things cannot be obviously seen. And in public, so many comments are made seemingly wantonly with regard to so many groups and communities that are not clearly spotted….and nor ought they be, because for what purpose in general life?
And yet, people continue to make their comments. Teachers continue to allow the joke.
On occasion, it makes me sad that people still generalize so much and in doing so, minimize so many others. Also that is continues to be allowed. It is allowed by people who speak it, and it is allowed by others who say nothing about it…including those marginalized and minimized themselves.
Gay is a culture. Lutheran is a culture. Pagan is a culture. Bu-polar…abused folks….many many cultures. I hope we get the picture further as we continue along. This ‘in-between’ is sometimes more frustrating than a totally generalized ignorant state.
All are everywhere……..