D.A.D.T.

I’m gonna start off by saying that I don’t know very much, if anything, about the military. What I do know is what I see in movies, see in the news or what little I know from family members in the armed forces.

That being said I’m pretty sure most will agree that when one thinks of the United States Armed Forces you don’t really think about social progression. You might think about guns, masculinity, bravado and any number of clichéd stereotypes.

I was often confused about what all the hub-bub was about when the topic of homosexuals allowed to do their job without having to hide who they are came up.

I think both heterosexism and religious prejudices come into play here. Indeed heterosexism could be argued as being a spawn of religious ideology but that’s an arguement for another blog.

Heterosexism is, like any -ism out there, a systematic means of denying any non-hetereo rights and privileges based upon their sexuality. I like to remind some of what a true -ism unlike what people commonly use like racism when it’s usually prejudices instead of systematic things. Or the use of irony. But I digress.

Like I said I was confused as to what the problem was. The arguement over unity cohesion seemed flimsy as best because 1. ethnic minorities have functioned in the American army for years before this and there was little to no major issues. 2. women have the same story, though some small changes had to be made. Finally 3. If Israel can do it, why can’t we?

A thought occurs to me. If heterosexual men are somehow fearful or are repelled at the thought of being viewed in a sexual way outside their own terms? How about they ask their fellow female compatriots?

I just think the whole thing is stupid, as much as I find D.O.M.A. stupid. The arguements made against allowing gay men and women to be allowed to put their lives on the line for our country ONLY if they pretend to be straight is ridiculous. Especially since a steadily growing number of soldiers don’t care one way or another if their fellow is gay or straight because, in the field, it only matters if you have one another’s back and don’t shoot it.

Personally I believe that the politicians just use broad social issues like homosexuality as a means to an end and they don’t seem to care how many lives are destroyed in the process.

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Colour and the Rainbow Flag

 What do you think of when you think of a gay person? Chances are you think of a Caucasian individual. Why is that? Undoubtedly there are gay Asians, Indians, First Nations, African, Arabs, etc. in the world. So why do we tend to see only Caucasians on the television?

To cry out racism would be a superficial arguement because the various cultures that make up the American society carry with them their own prejudices as to the level of acceptance of homosexuality.

I’m going to consciously ignore the First Nations because there isn’t much in the way of hard evidence saying one way or another how they were treated; though a small look on the internet suggests that they were accepted as just another human being.

Looking at the second eldest ethnic minority in America, there is a little more contention on the subject. In the initial days of the Civil Rights/Gay Rights (I believe they are one and the same, but some would argue otherwise) movements there was little visible difference between ethnicity and homosexuality. We shared a common struggle, therefore the enemy of my enemy was my friend. Differences within the gay community seemed to become noticeable during the Reagan years and socio-economic disparity grew. While Caucasians climbed up the proverbial ladder, those within the African community remained stagnant or fell. With the coming of the HIV/AIDs crisis did we only come together again because no-one but ourselves were going to help each other. An arguement has been presented to the African community that it is because of their own prejudices of homosexuality that part of the problem has persisted within the gay community.

There was an interesting article I found about homosexuality and the “black church” and the coming out of the Rev. Benjamin Reynolds. One quote from the article was “I think the black church has a long way to go in this area,” he told a reporter. “The oppressed, when they feel a place where they’re free, they’ll find others who they’ll oppress.” I found this to be something that has confounded me for as long as I’ve been aware of this paradox. Why would any community that has had a history of oppression knowingly, and willingly, go after another?

My African blood may be too thin to sympathize with the African community in America but their blood is still my blood and it does hurt me on a different level when I see them attack my gay “brothers and sisters” because of who we are. Sometimes I would like to remind them that, even though their level of oppression isn’t what it used to be, we still share a commonality.

I’m leaving the links to the articles I read below:

The Black Church and Homosexuality

Thoughts on Race in the Gay Community

Mondays are a drag…

What better to combat the images of homosexuality, femininity, and masculinity than Drag Queens? RuPaul is arguably the face (and icon) of Drag around America and quite possibly the world. There are a lot of ideas behind drag, most do it for performance reasons while there are those who are transvestites and transexuals that also involve themselves in drag.

A majority view drag as a means of performance and entertainment. Lip-syncing and dancing are two of the most visual categories. But what is probably less seen is how drag pushes boundaries into what society sees as clear lines between what is male and what is female. Drag Kings are the female equivalent in which women dress up as men.

For me Drag is the ultimate way for us to embrace who we are, not only as gay men and women, but for heterosexuals as well. Allowing that inner “Queen” to come out and live a larger than life experience and express yourself in a real, physical sense. I have never done Drag before and I probably won’t because the idea of wearing heels terrifies me. But I give props to the guys and gals out there who have the chutzpa to bend (and break) the traditional rules of gender. I don’t forsee a day when we all just stop labeling ourselves based on our genetic sex and guys will start wearing ballroom gowns to major events, or girls will wear a tux (which has happened sometimes, but with often negative outcomes) but I see it as a good way to discuss what gender means.

As Ru has said, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”

I wish I could…

While this short clip from Will & Grace can be characterized as ridiculous, it does bring up a very important notion that is still held by a large group of people in this society. While there is no specific text in the Tanach (I despise the use of the title ‘old testament’) against homosexual marriage, it’s the use of Leviticus that often fuels the debate speaking against it.

What isn’t usually understood by the greater community is that Leviticus isn’t so simple to read and interpret as the Jewish rabbanim (rabbi’s) or the Christian priesthood might want us to think. For centuries it was accepted that Leviticus was written by Moses as Hashem (or G-d) dictated. More recent scholarly interpretation suggests that it was a byproduct of the rabbanim source as early as the 5th century BCE.

The wording of the famous line leads a great deal to interpretation because of the vagueness of the script itself. “You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a woman, it is an abomination.” Yes, that is a pretty clear message but since Leviticus is a set of rules and guideline for “holiness” and the rabbanim does it stand only for a rabbi in the sense of holy rituals? What about homosexual woman? Since they are not specifically mentioned in this text are they exempt from the prohibition?

There are dozens of rules and regulations that are usually if not always ignored by the greater Jewish and Christian communities. Mixing cloth types, raising different crops in the same field, types of meats that are acceptable to eat are just a few that I’ll mention. But it is this omission that makes me wonder why use the Tanach or the New Testament as a weapon at all if you don’t follow everything in it to govern your life?

If you remove religion in the argument against homosexual marriage, what can they use as a weapon?

Studies have shown time and again that gay men and women are more than capable of raising children in a normal, safe and loving environment just as well as their heterosexual counterparts. Gay men and women have been procreating forever in the context of the closeted men and women marrying opposite gendered people. The argument over ‘Nature v. Nurture’ has practically been nullified by biological studies into the physiological differences in gay people’s biology.

So what is it? What’s to be afraid of? For heterosexual men, are they afraid that somehow they are considered less of a man if another approaches them to ask them out on a date? Are you less of a man if another finds you attractive? The same for heterosexual women.

Perceptions have lead to, in my opinion, a frenzy of misinformation and fear. Gay people can’t possibly destroy an institution that is held dear to so many people. It’s a dream that, I feel, most people want to have, a home, a loving spouse and a family. And lets not mention the fact that over 50% of marriages end in divorce. To be mean about it, I’m pretty sure heterosexual people are doing a good enough job tarnishing the institution of marriage on their own. But I digress.

I know things are progressing in the direction of acceptance of homosexual and transgendered people. I would never ask anyone to sacrifice their personal religious beliefs, but speaking from the fine tradition of Jews arguing about everything, what does it take for someone to stop listening to the voice behind the microphone and to listen to the voice inside? If Hashem speaks of only one thing, it is of love for yourself and love for your fellow man.

Of Rabbit Gods, Voodoo, and Kanye

So it seems that, to this point, my blog posts haven’t had one consistent theme. What I wanted to do was just find stories and reflect on what they had to say about homosexuality in general. The story of a wrongfully killed gay man in ancient China, various spiritual entities embodying or taking patronage over homosexuals, or the sardonic views of one minority towards another; these are all something that speak to me as a gay man and as a greater narrative in the United States.

Historically speaking, as a people, we have been met with great violence as the story of the Rabbit God told us. However, like in that story and how the spiritual teachings of at least some sects of Voodoo, there appear to be some greater spiritual force that is looking out for us.

But one thing that sometimes confuses me is the disconnect between other minority groups. It disheartens me to hear (in my opinion) ignorant views against homosexuals from other minorities in this country, specifically black Americans. Maybe it’s my own naivete speaking but I kind of expected, post-Civil Rights movement, there would be a greater sense of unity between our collective mission. Unfortunately that hasn’t always been the case. In some circles the term civil rights has been claimed by the black community in this country and various religious leaders and civil rights leaders in that community have been offended and refuse to see gay rights as nothing to do with their particular view on civil rights.

This may have something to do with the apparent lack of visibility of black gay men and women in modern media or maybe something to do with masculinity and its value in the black community. But this is all speculation on my part. Despite me being part black myself, my skin tone prevents me from being fully integrated into black culture so I cannot speak with any authority on the matter, only what I see in the media both heterosexual and homosexual.

Maybe I should look more into issues of race and homosexuality to see just what is being said and done about its own representation.

So, there has always been a sense of otherness being a homosexual. I even play into it when I refer to myself as an other and refer to other gay people as “my people”. Just how much it affects myself and others like me will be viewed as I progress in this blog. Today, in class, we had a great discussion of masculinity and I very much wanna talk about that topic and bring up Matthew Shephard. Also, maybe talk about Ms. RuPaul because she provides a fantastic dynamic on race, sexuality, and gender issues all in one glamourous ball.

Kanye about Homosexuals

Oh Kanye. I’ll use the word irony improperly here and comment on how “ironic” it is that, from one minority group to another, the level of ignorance this man has is just sad. However this seems to be representative of a culture of music that a lot of people, both gay and straight, have about the Hip-Hop world.

For about a second there was a gay rap artist named “Caushun” but nothing ever came from the self appointed first gay rapper. I can only attribute to what I consider a culture of hyper-masculinisation, a glorifying of violence, criminal activity, and the presentation of general ignorance.

What angers me about this video and the genre is that no one in the video (at least in the context seen) tries to question him about his views. Sure he tries to act like he’s “okay” with gay people but he almost immediately counters himself with the comments about the rainbow being the gay symbol and the quip about gay people having a good fashion sense. Back handed compliments like that only reinforce stereotypes like that and against him as a person.

To be perfectly honest I had to take a breath or two, down a cup of coffee and watch a funny video on youtube before I could write this blog. I have words for Mr. West but those comments will just have to play out in a drama I’m creating in my head right now.

He is a reality of my life that I have to deal with every day. His words are an expression of a culture that should know better. But that topic is for another blog methinks.

Mm, that’s Voodoo…

For some reason I’ve become a little obsessed with learning about Vodoun (or Voodoo). Part of my ancestral genetic make up hails from the West Indies where what Americans know about Voodoo was created. Specifically speaking, Haitian Voodoo is a collection of traditional west African Voodoo, Arawakian, and Roman Catholicism.

I decided to write this blog about Voodoo because it is a relatively minor religion (depending on where you are in the world) and has influence over people. It also has something to say about homosexuality. It even has several Loa (or dieties) and specific Barons who are said to be the patrons to homosexual people.

Traditionally Voodoo has no specific edict about homosexuality like you find in the Judeo-Christian traditions. Erzulie Freda is the Loa of love and beauty and is very feminine, allowing gay men to exhibit stereotypical behaviour during religious ceremonies. There are some Ghedes and Barons who are invoked during some rituals. A particularly famous Baron is Samedi who is sometimes seen cross-dressing with a top hat, frock coat, a skirt and woman’s shoes.

 I couldn’t find any particular stories about the Barons or Loa. To Voodoo practitioners the spirits simply exist and each have their own personalities.

I found it interesting that obscure religions like Voodoo acknowledge homosexuality in their own way. Like the Loa they serve, homosexuality is just another aspect of life. However with the influence of the Roman Catholic church there are moments when homosexuality is discriminated against. However instances of that are very regional and has only been seen in the practitioners in the United States and the Caribbean.

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