Extra Credit Blog Post

In the readings we have done before we talked about labeling people. We have talked about people being labeled as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, and Queer. Many times people are wrongly labeled which offends people in the LGBT community. In the readings this week, and in class someone said that labels can be detrimental, but it can be positive. I realized that labeling someone could most likely make them upset if wrong. It’s not just labeling gender, but everything from gender to class. The Eli Clare reading made me realize the importance of labeling. Labeling can be taken in a positive way or negative way. Positive in the fact that others feel respected in knowing the correct gender. In class, we have talked about the many different ways how labeling can be shown in a negative way. My understanding has changed in two main ways, realizing there is a positive side to labeling and the different reasons people come out of their shells. The pros to labeling can be seen differently in people. Some people may believe that knowing the gender of a person is positive because it will show pride in letting others know who they really are. I have seen people being called gay because they “look” gay. I have realized that many people don’t come out because they have to protect themselves in the workforce. I haven’t realized this, but it has been right in front of me. Tim Cook is a great example to start with. Cook is currently the CEO of Apple, which makes him a rich and powerful man. Everybody realizes that he didn’t open up because of his job. If others knew he was gay he wouldn’t be at the position he is at right now. This made me realize that people are actually treated very differently in the workforce if you are not straight. I don’t see this as a reasonable decision on Tim Cook’s behalf. To show that it can be done even if you’re “different”. I do see that if Tim Cook didn’t stay in his box then he wouldn’t have made it this far in the company. In conclusion, I see many different aspects of coming out, from labeling one’s self to acquiring the job that you want.

Today’s Class

Hey guys. I hope this doesn’t come across as patronizing in any way, because I really don’t mean it to be. I just wanted to thank you all for an awesome class. Thank you to all of you who shared your stories with us, who trusted us enough to share some deeply personal experiences. Thank you to those of you who didn’t speak, too, for helping to create a safe environment so that it was possible for us to share and learn about each other. I was really touched by everything we talked about today, and I just wanted to let you all know. Enjoy your break, and continue being amazing. <3

Mexican Queerness Representation

The example of Mexican queerness I found is the movie Y Tu Mama Tambien, starring Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal. The majority of the movie is not centered around gay experience or exploration, but there is a scene, and everything that follows that scene, that deals with gay attitudes in Mexican men. Luna and Bernal go on a road trip with a woman, and each end up sleeping with her at different times. Then, there is a scene where the three of them sleep together and the two men are seen kissing each other. The morning after, she has left them naked in bed together and they feel very uncomfortable. They do not continue talking once they get home from the road trip and their friendship kind of dies out. They both feel awkward about what happened. This representation of gay experimentation is clearly laced with the American masculinity we are used to. They are portrayed as two straight men who have one night of deviation, who are ashamed and feel emasculated or threatened by their gay memories.

This example is focused much more on how Mexican men might feel when coming to terms with potential queerness. For all we know, these two men could really be on the straight side of the spectrum but had one night of curiosity. Or, one or both of them are trying to find their place on the spectrum. Both seem to be afraid of identifying as queer. This culture is probably teaching similar lessons to their young men as the ones we teach. Gay is used as a slur, it demeans you and it strips you of a certain toughness or manliness.

There seems to be another concept at play here, as well; something that has been captured in America by a comedic short on Saturday Night Live. “It’s Not Gay if It’s in a Three-Way” poked fun at the logic that two men can have sex in a threesome with each other and a woman and it doesn’t “count” as gay because of the female presence. While it was created in jest, that logic seems to have been used in this situation. The two men kiss each other and don’t seem awkward about it when the woman is also involved. However, the next morning when she has left them alone, they feel extremely embarrassed being naked in front of each other. Their heterosexual buffer is gone and they can’t define the moment as “not that gay”.

Overall, the fear of gayness is very present in this interaction and hints at the pervasiveness of this fear across cultures. It’s possible that the geographic proximity Mexico has to America could be part of the reason for these shared attitudes, but more likely it is just a more universally held cultural norm than we realized. The transition of self-identity from completely straight to not-so-completely straight seems to be an almost traumatic one for men in certain spaces.

LGBT Issues in the Middle East

I chose to do research on attitudes towards LGBT individuals in the Middle East because I am studying abroad there over the winter.  I was not shocked by the fact that gay relationships are illegal in most Middle Eastern countries, however I was surprised to see that in the Gaza Strip, Kuwait, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan  it is illegal to have male/male relationships, but it is not illegal to have female/female relationships.  This is different from the United States because for the most part, people discriminate against gays and lesbians equally!  This reinforces stereotypes that women are not viewed as equal or human in the Middle East because it implies that women’s sexuality is not “real” compared to men’s sexuality.

The news article I read talked about the struggles of LGBT people fleeing from war.  The individuals that were mentioned in the article were people fleeing Syria to Lebanon.  Lebanon is one of the few Middle Eastern countries that offers support for LGBT individuals, however it is still illegal to be gay in Lebanon and there are many regions in the country that are still violent towards the LGBT community.  A big difference in how the LGBT community is treated in the Middle East vs. the United States is the degree of government violence there is in the Middle East.  People can be sentenced to death for being gay in the Middle East and individuals are subjected to “anal testing” in order to prove whether or not they are gay.  The article did not explicitly say what “anal testing” was, but I don’t think I want to know anyways.

LGBT individuals have a lot more freedom in the United States than in the Middle East.  Recently, governments started infiltrating online dating sites to track down people who are gay.  One online gay dating app, Grindr, even had to issue a warning to its users that they should hide their identities.  In America, many LGBT people are able to live their lives as queer individuals without having to hide their identity constantly.  However, even the most privileged people in the Middle East are only able to live part of their lives as openly queer individuals without fear of persecution.  One of the people interviewed for the article said that he was able to go to gay bars in Lebanon only because he was able to afford the expensive drinks there.  He could only live part of his life as an out gay man though, because he works for his family’s company.  If he were to come out to his family it is very likely that he would lose his job and his ability to go to gay bars because he would no longer be able to afford it.

http://middleeasthomosexualviolence.weebly.com/

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29628281

Queerness in Jamaica

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20080408/news/news3.html#

This is a link to an article from a Jamaican newspaper called the Jamaican Gleaner. The article is from 2008 and was published shortly after the new Jamaican Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, was elected. It references an ultimatum given to the Jamaican government by a Canadian human rights group called Egale Canada. This ultimatum was issued as response to the increasing number of hate crimes committed against LGBT Jamaican citizens that year. The ultimatum was: The Bruce Golding Administration must repeal the country’s anti-homosexual legislation. If it does not, Egale Canada will launch a series of campaigns to ban Jamaica goods in the international marketplace and promote a boycott of its tourism.

This is a perfect example of what we discussed in class regarding western nations forcing policy and ideology in foreign countries without any concern for differing cultural and political perspective. Egale Canada is an extremely powerful organization that has launched several international campaigns toward LGBT equality, so this threat was not taken lightly. The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), which is the first human rights organization in Jamaica to support the queer community, did not support Egale Canada’s agenda. According to the article, J-FLAG’s primary concern right now is dealing with homophobic violence on a diplomatic level. They will continue to work with international human rights organizations and pressure the Prime Minister to talk about how he will deal with these issues.

Western countries like Canada have had decades of progressive movements toward LGBT equality that Caribbean nations have not. It is unfair and unreasonable for organizations to demand the annulment of legislation that has been set in stone for so long without any consideration of the cultural and political context of those laws. My family is from Jamaica and from personal experience I can say that Jamaica is a country whose religious fundamentalism is deeply rooted into the culture and society. The social boundaries are much more rigid and domineering than anything we are currently experiencing in the US and Canada.

This fundamentalism is a result of the Jamaican people having to unite themselves against years of oppression and imperialistic British rule. In order to be truly independent, nations must unite themselves politically, economically, and socially. It is impossible to have a completely unified nation without one of these characteristics. Although individual beliefs can of course vary, Jamaica is generally a very homophobic country. This is evident in the anti-homosexual legislation and the homophobic gangs that are still active to this day. Because homophobia in Jamaica is so deeply rooted in religious fundamentalism, boycotting tourism and placing a ban on Jamaican goods is the wrong way to go. Jamaica has to work toward tolerance by its own means and on its own time. Canada or any other country has absolutely no right to tell them how and when they should do it.

LGBT Representation in Spain

Spain is the world’s most LGBT-friendly country

According to a study done in the article above, Spain seems to be the country most accepting of homosexuality. Out of the top 10 LGBT friendly countries, Spain came in first place with 55% of its citizens approving of homosexuality, and only 6% thinking that it is morally unacceptable. This means that more than half of the country agrees that the LGBT community should have equal rights. Its also surprising to see that the U.S. didn’t even make it into the top 10. They were number 12 on the list with 37% of people thinking that homosexuality is morally wrong. According to another article in the The Atlantic, views of homosexuality in many countries have not changed much over time. Spain still makes the top of the list with 88% of people agreeing that homosexuality should be accepted. The U.S. is making progress but it’s still less progressive with 60% of people who agree. As much as we would like to view the U.S. as a progressive society, our views on homosexuality are still not where they should be. Other countries that were very accepting were Germany and the Czech Republic.

One of the reasons why Spain has such a significant amount of LGBT supporters is because of its strict policies against all types of discrimination. Gay marriage was legalized in 2005 and since then, strides have been made to ensure that the gay community gains and maintains their rights. While researching LGBT rights in Spain, there was still one question that plagued me which was Why Spain? or basically what makes Spaniards more open and accepting of the LGBT community. I found that it has a lot to do with Spain’s history, specifically Roman Spain. At this time emperor Hadrian was in charge and was apparently gay but at this time there was no term for it, he was simply more attracted to men. There are countless other examples of gay writers, artists, leaders and common people from this era. In the Roman time period, anal sex, and other sexual actions that included two men were not seen as homosexual.Men could be attracted to whoever, and the use of anal sex was more of a way to express their power or status. Though there is much talk about gay men, there is not much talk about L, B, T and other letters in the acronym. It seems as if men had power to do whatever they liked I took it to mean that Spain’s history is more “man-power” than “queer-power”. However in the long run, it led to Spain being a much more open-minded society than many others. I think that since Spain has come so far in LGBT rights, the US can learn a great deal from them, not vice-versa. As we’ve seen in the readings about African countries, the US can be quite narcissistic and inaccurate when it comes to their ideas on LGBT rights.

Sources:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/06/the-country-thats-most-accepting-of-homosexuality-spain/276547/

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/03/07/why-does-spain-love-gay-marriage-but-hate-abortion.html

The truth about sexuality in ancient Greece and Rome

http://users.ipfw.edu/jehle/DEISENBE/Other_Hispanic_Topics/escondida.pdf

http://www.gay-art-history.org/gay-history/gay-literature/famous-homosexuals/hadrian-antinous-gay/hadrian-antinous-gay.html