Queerness, no pun intended, but what an “odd, strange, unusual, funny and peculiar” term”. People justify its usage because it supposedly takes away the power from those who would use it in a derogatory manner. Which is to say or equate a person’s sexuality as “peculiar or odd”. Why is gay equal to queer? Or why is queerness considered to be gay. Some would argue that the word “Queer” by definition sets up those associated with the word to be labeled in a manner that sets them aside from “normal”, if such a thing exist. Queer is often associated with sexual lifestyle and ultimately used by many as an insult. The clash of gender, sexuality and race collide with queerness in such a way that creates the illusion of interrogation.
“Everybody’s journey is individual. If you fall in love with a boy, you fall in love with a boy. The fact that many Americans consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality”. -James Baldwin. In his impressionable quote Baldwin voices the prominent yet tacit unacceptance of Homosexuality. Baldwin indicates that homosexuality or queerness in America is equated to an incurable disease or illness has been a conventional theory that it reveals an attitude of intolerance within American society . This widespread notion has held an augmented presence most notably in the African American community.(Crawford et al. 2002:179-180). In a thorough yet, animated analysis of Floyd, Ayana Mathis reviews popular receptions of Homosexuality and Queerness in the African American community. The characterization of Floyd unveils the ostracization that homosexual Black men face which generates a deceptive performance of hypermasculinity. This false performance is displayed through masking emotion and unveiling an attitude of contempt for anything dearth to the ideology of masculinity while perpetuating Homophobia.
“The unprecedented growth of the gay community in recent history has transformed our culture and consciousness, creating radically new possibilities for people to ‘come out’ and live more openly as homosexuals”(Herdt 2). Before the 1969 Stonewall riot in New York, homosexuality was a taboo subject. Research concerning homosexuality emphasized the etiology, treatment, and psychological adjustment of homosexuals. Times have changed since 1969. Homosexuals have gained great attention in arts, entertainment, media, and politics. Yesterday’s research on homosexuality has expanded to include trying to understand the different experiences and situations of homosexuals (Ben-Ari 89-90).
The acceptance of “abnormal” sexualities has been a prolonged, controversial battle. The segregation is excruciating and the prejudice remarks are so spiteful that some people never truly recover. Homosexuals have been left suffering for ages. Life, for most homosexuals during the first half of the twentieth century, was mostly one of hiding: having to constantly hide their true feelings and tastes. Instead of restaurants and movies, they had to sit quiet in the dark and meet each other in concealed places such as bars. Homosexuals were those with “mental and psychic abnormalities” and were the victim of medical prejudice, police harassment, and church condemnation (Jagose 24). The minuscule mention or assumption of one’s homosexuality could easily lead to the loss of family, livelihood, and sometimes even their lives. It was only after the Stonewall riots and the organization of gay/lesbian groups that times for homosexuals started to look brighter.
Sexual orientation is the preferred term used when referring to an individual's physical and or emotional attraction to the same and or opposite sex. Heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual and pansexual are all sexual orientations. An individual's gender identity and expression is distinct from their sexual orientation. Throughout life as the individual explores the world around them, they are shaped by the unique experiences and influences that are imparted upon them. All people experience life subjectively therefore there is no monolithic way of viewing or defining one’s sexual identity, however, there are particular experiences that may shape and develop specific characteristics or tendencies that a group of people may share. Andrew Sullivan addresses this very issue in his 1995 book, Virtually Normal: An Argument about Homosexuality. In the prologue, titled “What is a Homosexual?” Sullivan ponders what exactly composes a homosexual life and why certain environmental factors are fundamental and exclusive to the homosexual experience. He sees self-control/subjugation as a crucial part of all human experience, however, he considers the homosexual (more broadly, the LGBTQ) experience to be unique in that early on they learn to make sexual/emotional distinctions out of a need for survival. They learn to function within the parameter of certain social rules in order to blend and eventually this becomes a sort of second nature that is hard to break.
The reading, Gay, Latino and Macho, explores four men’s struggles with being gay in a Latino culture. These men share their stories on how they are treated by society for being different. In their communities, men need to show machismo attributes and men who do not meet the standards are not seen as real men. I don’t believe there was a clear thesis to this reading but I do believe there was a purpose, and that is to address how harsh the machismo Latino culture can be to those who homosexual. In order to fix this problem, people need to bring about a more accepting culture for gay people to live in.
Our culture and society has always been afraid of escaping our comfort zone and accepting differences in people. Distinctions between others segregate rather than invite differentiated groups as a result of ignorance and intolerance. Human sexuality, although seems like a very one-dimensional topic, examines a wide range of themes, including sexual orientation and homosexuality. The unfair treatment of gays and lesbians has existed ever since ancient times. People were slaughtered and executed solely on the basis of who they loved. Religious persecution, family disownment and simply the fear of death kept gays and lesbians from promoting any kind of change. It wasn't until after the Second World War that many started encouraging change and equal treatment for all under the law. The 1950s through the1980s served as the most important time frame in which movements, leaders, and support thrived in the United States as well as all around the globe. In addition, the rise of influential and important leaders such as Harvey Milk take the stage as an advocate and voice for gays during a time of a great need and a desire for reform. Protesting and political demonstrations provided a form of vocal advocacy intended to be heard by higher political positions. Around the turn of the century, the media played a crucial role in spreading awareness for equality, gaining mass attention, and assisting in policy innovation. All of these factors have evolved over time to what is now being considered the modern-day Gay rights movement. Many conditions have improved drastically since then, but obstacles still stand in the way from achieving social and legal equality. Today, the fight continues for marriage equality and acceptance into mainstream societ...
Throughout the 20th century, the idea of homosexuality was negatively viewed not only in the Church, but in the streets as well. Before 1969, the gay community was afraid to come out to the world as a community of acceptance of what gender they like, what gender they want to be, and what gender they want to marry. They looked for positivity and acceptance throughout the community in various forms; such as emotional support and political acceptance via diverse historical, social, and political events. Two of the books that we have read in class that favor community formation, one being Dancer from the Dance, evoked communities geographically and socially in an attempt to form acceptance. The second book, Whipping Girl, both accepted and rejected communities in a biological sense in reference to transgender men and women and how the author, Julia Serano, attempts to recreate an identity in community formation. Using these two books will be a basis for discussion on what it means to be an LGBTQ person in a formulating community in the 21st century society.
Huebner, D. M., Rebchook, G. M., & Kegeles, S. M. (2004). Experiences of harassment, discrimination, and physical violence among young gay and bisexual men. American Journal Of Public Health, 94(7), 1200-1203.