Queer Literature

a study of sexuality in literature

Month: October, 2014

Tim Cook and the Closet

by miracasteel

You have probably heard that Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, came out casually in an interview. He was generally considered gay, but he never felt the need to formally say so until now. Although I’m happy for him and everything, it got me thinking about the reading we just had, “Epistemology of the Closet” by Sedgwick. In her essay, she claims that open secrets have their own problems and lists why.
One of the points she makes is that everyone is at least slightly closeted. On the level of everyday people, this is true enough. A person might decide to be out to their Aunt Rose, but not Uncle Joe. But that argument kind of falls apart when the person is famous or has an internet presence. In the case of Tim Cook, for instance, he is now out to anyone who has a computer or knows someone who does through any degree of separation. “Epistemology of the Closet” was written in 1990, which was five years before I was born, so I don’t know how predictable this development would have been at the time of writing.
In the article I originally read about his coming out, the website also mentioned another article about Russian reaction. The reaction was only from a single person, but the article goes on to discuss the reasons many CEOs stay in the closet.
And now I’m getting off of my original topic, but although nowadays it would be rare to see people fired for their sexuality, and when they are they now get support from the courts and their communities, it happens. I’m from a suburb of Seattle (as I’m sure many of us are) and the firing of vice-principal Mark Zmuda was all over the news. So even though that was just an example in the original essay, thought you would be interested.
Articles referenced:
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-10-30/tim-cook-im-proud-to-be-gay
http://www.businessinsider.com/russian-official-comment-on-tim-cook-2014-10

Mira Casteel

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…go watch this show if you have time between midterms

by griffin325

Today in class we talked about the phenomenon of the “male paranoid project,” where heterosexual cisgendered males feel the need to become hyper-vigilant to defend their “heterosexual credentials.” If anyone is interested in seeing this explored in a theatre piece, the WWU theatre department is currently putting on the show Streamers. This deals with homophobia/homosocial relations in the all-male micro-environment of the military during Vietnam. There are two more performances this week, and it is really connected to a lot of things we’ve been discussing in class.

It’s on campus in the Dug theatre (in the Performing Arts Center), if anyone is interested.

https://cfpa.wwu.edu/theatredance/streamersa-piece-my-heart

Bayonetted

by vsaez1993

Something that really struck me in the “Epistemology Of The Closet” reading was the case where one teacher, was fired for being gay. While that was the underlying message, that’s not how they put it. Sedgewick notes that the actual reason was that he hadn’t revealed himself enough. Sedgewick goes on to point on a very interesting phenomena. While he didn’t reveal himself enough, other LGBT people are fired from their jobs (or oppressed in other ways) because they reveal themselves TOO MUCH. This makes me infuriated. Like truly, pit of my stomach infuriated because at the end of the day the bottom line is THEY CANT WIN these arguments. When society chastises LGBT people for being too secretive and too open about their sexuality its like being oppressed from two parallel sides. What bothers me the most about this is how the homophobic people relay their oppression by saying that its because of the way said LGBT person handled their situation. It becomes the LGBT persons own fault.

Here is an example of a couple outwardly expressing their sexuality, and being denied service.

Masterpiece Cakes (2012): Masterpiece Cakes in Lakewood, Colorado refused wedding cakes to multiple same-sex couples, though follow-up test calls revealed it would accommodate a cake for a dog wedding. The state attorney general has filed a complaint against the shop for violating the state’s nondiscrimination laws. (http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2013/07/02/2244711/15-examples-of-anti-gay-discrimination-conservatives-want-to-preserve/)

In an article in Huffington post they fired a teacher who had been hiding the fact that he was gay. In this article they were mad about the fact that he had been hiding his sexuality. Not to mention one of the oppressors tries to pretend like he wasn’t the antagonist..

“John Brown University, for its part, claims it did not initiate or force Jason Hough’s resignation. ‘Out of respect for his family and Jason’s own privacy, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further on any specifics,’ Lucas Roebuck, director of university communications said.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/07/enda-religious-exemption_n_4229247.html

by katalienim

I know a handful of people my age who are relatively obsessed with Disney. Disney films, Disney characters, Disney songs, just Disney everything. To me, this is honestly rather alarming. Starting with the fact that Walt Disney himself was not that great of a guy. He consistently had characters in his films which wore blackface, and negatively or inaccurately portrayed Jewish and African people. Within more recent times, Disney studios are not making the bounding leaps many die-hard fans are claiming. Yes, Mulan was an Asian princess and was a strong woman, but she also spent the majority of the movie as a man. Yes, Tiana was a Black princess overcoming diversity in the South, but she spent the majority of the movie as a frog. One of the more talked about movies Disney recently produced, Frozen, had a rather controversial moment. In one of the scenes in the movie, the shop keeper motions to his family in the sauna. Inside you see a handful of people, ranging from a small child to perhaps a man in his late twenties. People went out of there way to preach that the oldest man in the sauna was in fact the shop keeper’s husband, and that there was finally gay representation in a Disney movie. I call bullshit. If you have to actively go out of your way to find something that may or may not be representation, that is not representation. Representation is not some grey area extra. Representation is out and in your face.

-Natalie Kim

Why so defensive?

by monicaronquillo

So in reading about the idea of masculinity within different cultures and how that is defined differently I was exposed to an interesting experience. I work as a bartender in a restaurant in the Bellingham Airport, the other day I had two couples sit at the rail and were friends heading to Vegas. The tone they gave for their trip was “we don’t have our kids, lets party!” however as much as parents seem to try and talk about other things other than their children that topic is a huge part of their life. So they were filling each other in on how the kids were and what sports or hobbies they are interested in recently; one mom mentioned that her son has recently started performing for his schools theater department. She made a comment that was something like, “you would think that’s what my daughter would be doing, but instead he is our performer and she’s our athlete.” Immediately her husband scolded her, and made a comment saying why would you bring that up, that’s not relevant or important (although it was relevant as its a hobby her son happened to be interested in) he then was quick to start talking (more like bragging) about how well his son had done on the mountain last season and how he was looking forward to seeing him compete in snowboarding competitions and see how he would place. He then made it a point to continue using “masculine” words to describe his son and only kept everyones attention to the fact his son is a snowboarder. When the other wife for the other couple changed the topic to what shows they wanted to go to in Vegas he disregarded her comment and asked me to make them a round of shots which quickly distracted them all. His nonverbals after this were clear he was upset/uncomfortable and he didn’t want to be around his group. He then changed his posture to face the bar directly rather than sideways to his group and just starred at the tv and didn’t talk till he asked for his bill. I have never experienced anything like this, it was clear that the idea of his son participating in theater, in this man’s view made his son less “masculine” and this irritated him. I just wanted to share this experience because it’s one I honestly have never witnessed for myself till the other day and it was so heartbreaking.

Homer’s Phobia: The Simpsons address homophobia

by regimbomb

The fifteenth episode of the Simpsons’ eighth season, titled “Homer’s Phobia,” is the show’s first episode to deal with entirely homosexual themes, and it did so to much critical acclaim. After its 1997 air date, the episode won four awards, including an Emmy for “outstanding animated program.” The show’s premise revolves around John, a homosexual collectible shop clerk who befriends the Simpsons. At first, Homer is extremely welcoming of John, insisting that the family have “he and his wife over for drinks sometime,” but when Marge tells Homer that John is a homosexual, everything changes. Homer immediately becomes offended, accusing John of being a “sneak” for not telling the family that he was “that way.” He withdraws from the rest of his family who is still smitten with John, and refuses to go out with them or have any association with John.

John’s witty charm appears to really affect Bart, (Homer’s son) whose behavior begins to noticeably change now that the family has been spending a lot of time with John. Homer “catches” Bart wearing a Hawaiian shirt (which he insists are only worn by two types of individuals: “big fat party animals,” or gays), and wearing a woman’s wig while singing over song lyrics sung by a female. Homer becomes increasingly worried that his son might be gay, and sets out to “set him straight.” Eventually, after an encounter with reindeer and a creepy robotic Japanese Santa Claus, Homer apologizes to John, and tells Bart that he’ll love him unconditionally, no matter what lifestyle he chooses to live.

What I’ve always thought was interesting about this episode, is what the writers decided to have Homer do in order to  “prevent” Bart’s homosexuality, as well as what some characters in the show think is a sign of homosexuality.

Homer places Bart in front of a billboard for Laramie (in-show brand) cigarettes with a few half-naked women having a pillow fight on it, and leaves him there for a few hours. After that plan fails, Homer takes Bart to a steel mill to show him “men doing men’s work,” and after that fails, Homer decides that the only way to set Bart straight is to take him hunting, and insisting that Bart kill a deer. This latter suggestion comes after the realization that the United States was not at war at the time, so they could not send Bart off to war to have him kill a man, which Moe (a local bartender) insists would “fix him (Bart) right up.”

These are the things that the characters in the show decide are the “cures” for homosexuality, and they are dismissed within the episode as useless, insisting that homosexuality isn’t something that can be cured, and is as much a part of life as anything else. The show also satirically pokes fun at homophobes and the irrational assumptions they conjure up about homosexual behavior. Apart from wearing a wig and a Hawaiian shirt, some characters in the show insist that playing with toys, drinking diet soda, and choosing Hostess Snowballs over Ding Dongs are indicators of homosexuality.

I’ve included clips of the episode from YouTube below (I apologize for poor quality)

Alec Regimbal

Date rape among gay men

by wargob3

I never imaged that rape would be an issue within the gay community. Being a gay man myself I never thought I would have to worry about being raped. As a very strong and vocal gay man, I didn’t ever think I would be in a situation where I could be sexually assault. After reading this article “I’m Not Sure If I Was Sexually Assaulted or Not: On Men and Date Rape” by H. Alan Scott I was convinced otherwise. Scott talks about his experience with date rape and brings light to this issue. Scott went on a date with another man and was unexpectedly thrown into a sexual encounter that he did not wish for.  In today’s society whenever the issue of rape is brought up it is usually under the context of a man and woman and usually the woman is the victim. No one ever talks about women raping men, men raping men, or women raping women. In the article it mentions a survey done by the National Crime Victimization Survey that reported thirty-eight percent of men, gay or straight, had some sort of sexual violence against them. I was alarmed by how high the percentage was among men. I have never heard of a man being sexually assaulted by a woman or a man. America’s culture nurtures men to be dominant over women, which is wrong, and if a man was sexually assaulted by a woman it would cause great insecurities. The same could be said about gay men in the same situation. The victim would not seek help because he would worry about being judged, along with the lack of resources for men, gay or straight. The issue of date rape within the queer community, as well as among straight men, is considered the gray area, for it is not an issue that is talked about in great detail. Date rape, regardless of who is the victim, is an issue that should be talked about within both the straight and queer communities and how it affects people. I think there should be more resources for people in general who have experienced sexual assault.

The article was from Huffing Post under Gay Voices. There was a interview with Alan Scott that was also very informative.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/h-alan-scott/im-not-sure-if-i-was-sexu_b_6022108.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

-Blake Wargo

Connections: Chicano Men

by smartinez1418

As a hispanic male myself, i paid extra attention to this essay. I thought about my family and experiences growing up. I gave those thoughts a couple more swirls and then went to dinner. When i came back and sat down i started to see some of the cultural differences Almaguer noted. And moreover, i noted the differences between my white friends and my latino friends when i was growing up. And although i never realized it before, there really is more of a pressure to assert “maleness” in my own culture. It even pervades in our cultural jokes about sexuality, which evokes humor out of the less manliness of an individual. I had never considered this in any other terms outside of heterosexuality either since my parents always were more of a progressive  liberal type than most. So it almost surprises me that they never brought any of that up. Perhaps cultural differences could be a leading factor towards the problems we see today regarding sexuality.

What makes something gay? No really, I’m confused

by burrm3

http://www.queerty.com/dress-you-up-10-amazingly-gay-halloween-costume-ideas-20141025

I saw this article on a website for gay men and it caught my eye because my first thought was “what the hell does a gay halloween costume look like?” I read it, expecting clarity, and only got more confusion. What besides stereotypes makes these costume ideas and “more gay” than any other costume. Also, why do we need our halloween costumes need to try to reflect our sexual preferences? I think that halloween is an opportunity for people to become something they aren’t for one night and shed inhibitions. Does your costume reflecting your sexuality only matter because you are looking to hookup with someone, or do gay guys just want to look hot much like others on halloween? Regardless of intention this article is useless in my opinion and I would like to hear the opinion of someone who identifies as a gay male give their opinion on this.

-Morgan Burr

Sex Miseducation

by sofiasmith411

Last week’s readings and class discussion on topics related to HIV/AIDS made me wonder about sexual education (including HIV/AIDS information) in public schools. I did a little digging and found some graphics depicting how various states choose to regulate sex education. According to a study on sex education in public school in the United States, only 33 states mandate HIV/AIDS education. What I found most disturbing was that only 13 of these states require that this information is “medically accurate.” I’m dumbfounded by this. How can this be? What is really being taught? What kind of misinformation is being presented? Is HIV/AIDS still being labeled as a “gay disease” in some of these programs?  I find this disturbing and frightening and I’m at a loss for words. Shouldn’t information being taught in schools about any disease or medical condition be, at the very least, based on medical facts? Trying to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS seems impossible if people are not even taught the very basic facts about how it is and is not contracted. Like I mentioned before, I am at a loss for words. I suppose that in a culture where television new pundits generate mass hysteria and misinformation about Ebola, this shouldn’t surprise me.

Here is a link to the infographics.

http://www.upworthy.com/get-ready-to-be-horrified-at-what-schools-are-telling-kids-about-sex

Here is a link to the original study.

https://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_SE.pdf

-Sofia Smith