Saturday, February 2, 2013

Gay Progress and Setbacks on Super Bowl Weekend

This has been a week of advances in mainstream acceptance of us gay people, but we've also seen examples of backward homophobia (Yes, AP, I'm still using that word.) At the age of 82, Hawaii resident Jim Nabors, aka Gomer Pyle, finally came out of the closet and wed his longtime partner in Washington state. The Boy Scouts may be lifting their ban on gay troupe members and leaders. Same-sex couples are included in proposed immigration reform. But there was also Cissy Houston telling Oprah she would have had a problem if Whitney told her mom she was gay and closeted Ed Koch passed away without ever declaring which way he cut his jib (and yes, it does matter that we know.) Ironically, the former mayor died on the day a biographical documentary was released as if he were timing his demise for maximum publicity.  There was a mini-firestorm when a San Francisco 49ers cornerback (whatever that is) made antigay remarks about homosexuals not being welcome on his team on a radio show. He did quickly apologize; he does play for a San Francisco team after all.

But then two of his teammates who participated in the It Gets Better campaign by shooting a brief PSA about anti-bullying denied ever having participated in the program. When the interviewer showed them the clip on his phone, they responded that they thought it was just for anti-bullying and not specifically to come out against homophobic bullying.Duh! Where do these two live, under a rock? Evidently whoever does the PR for the 49ers neglected to tell them the true nature of It Gets Better. Dan Savage, the originator of the campaign took down their clip and tweeted #NFL #homophobia #horseshit.  

These events show that while we are making progress, there is still much resistance to complete acceptance. Large pockets of misogyny and homophobia still exist in traditionally hetero masculine institutions such as the military, Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, and the NFL. These people cling to the notion that being gay is a socially unacceptable way of life and must not invade their precious campgrounds, locker rooms or barracks. In the Oscar-nominated documentary The Invisible War dozens of women testify about the epidemic of sexual assault in the armed forces. Now with women being moved to combat ranks, the illusion of male superiority is being eroded even further. Females and gay men are even more threatening and expect a further backlash, but in mainstream society, that backlash is losing its sting.

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