Sunday, July 3, 2011

Is 'Gay' the New Black?

Is ‘Gay’ the New Black?
I am writing this piece of rhetorically, pertinent composition from a biased standpoint. Not biased in the normally referenced negative connotation, but from the bias that is inherent in all humans because of our individually sculpted cultures and life experiences.

For some time now, via media and social networking outlets, I have been hearing proponents of same-sex/homosexual marriage comparing Gay Rights to the African American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, yet I must beg to differ on the fact that homosexuality, unlike one’s ethnicity (unless ‘passing’), can be disguised, if not totally hidden, from public view, therefore making subordination because of homosexuality a ‘choice’ situation rather than a ‘forced’ situation as in the case of the United States’ societal discrimination and subordination of the American Negro, and even the international castigation, dehumanization, and subjugation of the Moors of the world. The treatment may be the same, yet the impetus for that treatment is as simple as ‘see’ versus ‘say’; one cannot know you are Gay unless you verbally inform and clarify the fact to them—Black, on the other hand, is understood on sight, and therein lies the conundrum that deconstructs the comparison between the Civil Rights Movement of the American Black and the Gay American.

By no means will I turn this article into a homophobically constructed composition laden with right wing sympathies, whether social or political, nor will I attempt to be the monolithic voice of the Christian/Protestant sect that the majority of Americans proclaim to reside. But, I will defend the Civil Rights struggle of the African American in 1950s and 1960s America as the most unique, heroic, and incomparable social fight for liberty and equality that the United States of America has ever seen (i.e. in comparison to, if you can compare, Lesbian/ Gay/ Bi-Sexual/Transgender(LGBT), Women, Latino, Disabled). For quite a few months now, and especially since the last week of my life (29 June-2 July 2011), I have been hearing colleagues, close friends, students, and even strangers discuss the possible ramifications of the legitimizing of Gay marriage throughout the states of America that are supposed to be united. Though it has been on the political radar since Hawaii banned Gay marriage in 1993, the 2004 Massachusetts legislation that ‘approved’ (funny how humans have to get approval from other humans to get married) same-sex unions, the recent approval by the state of New York this past week has created quite the discourse throughout our homes, churches, college campuses, golf courses—if you play, gymnasiums, and practically everywhere where individuals have the time and opportunity to discuss anything at all with other individuals whom they share any attribute of cultural identification (i.e. Race, gender, economic status, occupation, education, regionality, nationality). True, there are currently 30 states that have amendments on the books of law that ban same-sex or gay marriage, but besides the discrimination of the legal union of gay peoples, what other ways is the Gay Rights Movement remotely similar to the Black American Civil Rights Movement?

How can an employer not hire you if you are a homosexual if they do not ‘know’ you are a homosexual? Maybe I am a proponent of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’? Maybe your sexuality and sexual activity should be a personal thing, like your mate’s G-Spot or the fact that you abuse your wife or husband or children, either mentally or physically, or that you chug down a bottle of Smirnoff every evening after work to make it to the next day, or that you nasally scoff down five or six lines of Peruvian on a nightly basis to cope with your inadequacies, or that you eat a ‘family size’ platter of Popeye’s chicken while locked away in your bedroom to satisfy your pleasure principle. In my opinion, some things should be an individual’s own business.

I am concerned that when Gay individuals compare their movement to that of the African American Civil Rights Movement they are minimizing the sociopolitical and economic restrictions that exist when discriminatory actions persist because of one’s appearance. Black don’t come off, but you can hide Gay. For instance, unless one walks around adorned in the androgynous garbs of an Adam Ant or 1980s…and 1990s…hell, 2000s, you would be hard-pressed to readily identify one’s sexual preference via the natural visual aid we call appearance.

Are Gays, or is the LGBT, community piggybacking on the Civil Rights Movement? Yes, I know that Gay Rights are nothing new to the national agenda, yet I get sick of hearing the comparison between the two movements. I mean, really? How in the world is being ‘gay’ at the least similar to being Black. I can’t hide my hue or the tint of my skin or the permanent tan I’ve had from birth—Gays can. Sure, you will eventually have to bring your mate to the company picnic or the company Christmas Party or whatnot, but I can never leave my Black at home—no way no how. Sometimes, if I could, I wish I could leave my Black at home while searching for a prestigious position at an elite company that will afford me the opportunity to pay off student loans, for the two degrees and graduate certificate which I have earned, and garner me enough of an annual salary where I can properly provide for my son and his college education and first car and prom and attire he can wear to school without being ridiculed by his classmates for not having upper middle class garments and summer vacations abroad, but I cannot; I cannot hide my Blackness—you can see it in my skin and in the juicifully thick lips and kinky, black hair. And my walk and the base and rhythmic intonation of my voice and my…’cool.’ Gays can hide their sexuality. Even if they bring their mate to a company outing or out in public, who’s to say the two, or the couple, are not just close friends, or friends? People know me and my ‘Blackness’ aren’t friends—they know we are one—one in the same.

And I know everyone reading this article will reference the U.S. Miscegenation laws from 1913-1948 where 30 of 48 states enforced a ban on interracial marriage and the 1967 Loving vs. Virginia case where the Supreme Court ruled the Virginia Racial Integrity Act of 1924 unconstitutional and readily compare that one aspect wherein the Civil Rights and Gay Movements intertwine. But sexual preference, and the ability to display one’s sexual preference, and one’s race are incomparable like shit to fart—they both smell, but one is of substance and the other is just gas. There is a reason why old adages exist like ‘that’s like comparing apples and oranges’ or ‘that’s neither here nor there’—because arguments like this one fit that bill.

-Gee Joyner

Friday, July 1, 2011

My Bedroom Is My Business: Legalization of Homosexual Marriages in 21st Century U.S. Culture

Whether it is discussed in the framework of politics or religion, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender) matters have the tendency to be divisive subjects for many people. Marriage for gay couples is particularly divisive because many people view marriage as a religious based subject. I will gladly state my position on marriage for gay couples before submitting my points regarding my stance….I do not think the word ‘marriage’, or the action of marriage, is maintained exclusively by any group of people. At one point and time, it was generally used for white men and white women; then it became recognized for various ethnicities but only among those within the same ethnic group. Marriage, in the United States of America, was finally ‘legally’ accepted for any man and woman regardless of race. I am sure there are people who still believe that white people should marry only white people and black people should only marry black people. Some people think that different religions or sects of religions should not marry (e.g. Jews shouldn’t marry Christians or even Jehovah’s Witness shouldn’t marry Baptists). Some people hold the belief that wealthier people should not marry people with less wealth. While these are matters of opinions and personal preferences, from a legal stand point none of it matters. As far as the law, in any state and on a federal level, none of the aforementioned examples matter. With the exception of polygamy, any one of any background can marry any one of any other background—anyone but gay couples.
I think, in many wedding ceremonies, the phrase “marriage should be taken seriously and not entered into lightly” is uttered in some form or fashion. With the recent legalization of marriage for gay couples in New York and the upcoming passing of legislation for Civil Unions in Rhode Island, the issue of marriage for gay couples makes another lap on the cycle of social and news media conversations. In the most recent of three polls (Gallup Poll, CNN Poll, and the ABC/Washington Post Poll), support of marriage for gay couples appears to be favorable with 53%, 51%, and 53% respectively in favor of the recognition of marriage for gay couples as legal.
While the growing trend appears to be in favor of supporting the legal recognition of marriage for gay couples, only six states thus far have legalized the unions of marriage for gay couples (Washington, D.C. and the Coquile Indian Tribe in Oregon also recognize same-sex marriages). Setting the successes of marriage for gay couples in the six states aside, 12 states prohibit marriage for gay couples through state statute and 29 have altered their state’s constitution to bar gay couples from marriages. That is correct—41 states have laws in place that bar gay couples from marriage and the rights therein.
So, why is marriage for gay couples such an issue? I honestly cannot comprehend it. Some people may take the approach that gay lifestyles are against their religious beliefs, but truthfully, the marriage of someone else has nothing to do with me or anyone other than the couple getting married. Many of the conservative leaning groups that stand against marriage for gay couples often believe that the government should not intervene in matters of family—they think the government is too big. Well with this matter, I agree. The government should not intervene in whom one should love—get out of that couples bedroom. The government should however, assure that the same protections and securities available for straight Americans are available for every American.
Marriage is about committed couples who want to make a lifelong promise to take care of and be responsible for each other. I have been married to my wife for nine years. When I met her I knew I wanted to marry her, I am sure she most likely liked what she heard when I started laying down this game on her; she may disagree with that but I know the truth! I imagine gay and lesbian couples meet and fall in love just as Lori and I did. A phone call leads to a date; which leads to building bonds of love and respect for one another; which leads to creating dreams, goals, and plans. There is not much difference in the “love-process” for me and my wife as there is for most couples (granted, there are arranged marriages, forced marriages, and a wealth of other marriage scenarios to consider but for the most part in America we meet, like, love, and live—and for the most part, in that order). While I know there are over-arching benefits of marriage (from a legal standpoint), marriage really isn’t solely about the tangible benefits of being married, we generally don’t consider ‘can I get health insurance’ as one of the major factors of who we marry; I said generally we don’t. If you believe that the person you love (or loved—assuming you’ve actually loved before) should have every right to be your spouse, what is different about that notion for anyone/everyone else who is a responsible and willing adult (taking in consideration that some states allow the marriage of teens as young as 14 with parental consistent, within this editorial I am solely talking about sound-mind, age-of-majority adults).
The essence of marriage is love but according to the Government Accounting Office from report in 2004 there are over 1,300 benefits, rights, or privileges from which legally recognized married couples can utilize offered from the Federal Government (1,358 to be exact). Sure, love is a great reason to marry—and I personally think it should be the sole reason to marry but with marriage comes responsibility. That responsibility often includes taking care of a spouse when they are sick, leaving various securities for a spouse upon the death of another. Because of laws like the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), many couples will never receive social security protections of a deceased loved one; gay couples encounter a cluster of judicial hurdles if they marry someone from another country-even when the state recognizes their marriage; and lowering the tax burden of a gay couple is out of the question all due to DOMA. These protections and securities, protections and securities that most of us take for granted, are not available to couples who love one another but share the same gender. I still support the notion that marriage is about love but love doesn’t grant the numerous benefits that gay and lesbian couples cannot take part. Straight couples and gay couples want to care for their mates, straight couples and gay couples want to provide the best healthcare for their mates, straight couples and gay couples want their spouses to be free of worry or financial burden if one dies. The same securities and legal protections that marriage gives to me and my wife should be the same securities and legal protections that my gay, lesbian, and transgender friends receive.
I know the arguments, none of which seem rational to me; we all know the argument: “religious believes”, “gays chose that lifestyle”, “they can get gay-to-straight counseling”—the arguments range from bizarre to just plan illogical.
Here is the deal: What does the marriage of anyone have to do with me? In a word---nothing.

-Kenny Rodgers

'American' Dreamin': The Convolution Is Being Televised

While riding today, I noticed a couple of young ladies, both wearing white outfits characterized by very short shorts and slim fitting tops, displaying their shoulders and back. They were crossing Getwell Ave. at it’s intersection at Quince Road. Neither of the young women were older than 15 years I deduced. Not far down the street, a couple of men had made the young women the focus of their attention as they completely turned their heads while leaving a local BBQ shack and crossing the streets themselves. When the young women recognized they would have to pass the two men, they crossed back onto the side they’d just departed from, giggling to themselves.

This scene troubled me as it served as a microcosm to what has been ailing me for the past few sunsets. Our culture of sex, one of immediate all encompassing gratification and blatant physical, verbal, and thus mental expression, has begun to subjugate our better selves. This control is becoming more evident in virtually every facet of American life. An increasingly larger number of Americans are rebelling against globally accepted social norms to adopt a more ‘liberal’ agenda of inclusion and limitlessness. Everyone from your so-called thug to your young under esteemed middle school girl to your graduate yuppie and self anointed intellect and family representative has subscribed to the idea of ‘people can’t help who they love’ in some form or another. Because of our ├╝ber sexual nature, this physical desire is often confused for love and it is often exhibited through lustful self-indulgence.

The nation’s current state of confusion as it relates to how we will accept and handle homosexuality provides a lot of insight into this modern american phenomenon. Recently a bill was passed in New York, our third most populous state, allowing for same sex marriage. I have not seen to edict, but I assume that in order to do so the definition for the institution of marriage must have changed in order for this to be allowed. For as long as America has been a sovereign country, marriage has been defined and accepted as ‘a union between man and woman’. This clearly had to have changed.

In the great state of New York, men can now marry men and women can marry themselves as well. This will undoubtedly lead to more open homosexual and bisexual relationships for all to see and experience; But why? Some say it is because of the need to recognize what has been happening since the beginning of humanity, others say it is the natural evolution of humankind, while others will argue that the United States Constitution allows for the ‘pursuit of happiness’ for all citizens of this ‘great’ nation. I contend that we have allowed our primal desires to overrule our better judgement once again.

As a nation, we are going to have to decide who we are and what we will look like. We have been operating under the guise of the world’s ‘melting pot,’ but one year in America as a minority of any sort will dissipate those expectations. We are a nation of various groups and cultures bound together by our spirit of independence and personal freedom. Our fear of being repressive prevents us from adhering to strict sets of beliefs while our mandate to be tolerant strips one of their own standards enforced through childhood and familial traditions. We have to include. To not do so paints an individual as a hate monger or fear peddler, or even simply an imbecile. We have been bred to group think our issues, and while we seem to know this is not bringing us any closer, it does alleviate the burden of accountability and for many that is sufficient.

This current sexual identity crisis is stemmed in mass confusion and has been propagated with masterful execution. No matter what time of the day or night you turn on your television or radio you will find an ad or scene which is sexual in nature. It is how we sell virtually all of our music, and it is a part of every magazine on the shelf. It starts at toddlerhood as we are introduced to non gender specific creations or men who speak in tones much more like our mothers than our fathers. Our culture is currently so sexually charged and critically undisciplined that we are willing to stimulate our private parts with just about anything. We are having sex in open markets, with those of the same sex, as well as with other species of animal. Slowly, the restrictions which helped us define our humanity are being blurred and we become less human and more animalistic. We have lost our willingness to reason and logically define our needs and desires and in place we have decided that we are no more in control of these urges than baby is of its bladder. Somehow though, we tend to think that those who have sexual perversions or variances other that our own should be in complete control of theirs or we should be in control of them.

Many frown on a comparison between pedophilia and homosexuality or bestiality and homosexuality. I do not think they are vastly different. If you look at statistics, you will find that the vast majority of ‘sexual predators,’ or those who have sexual relationships with minors, are repeat offenders. Once arrested, convicted and punished, they eventually find themselves at a familiar crossroads questioning their love or lust for such a forbidden fruit. Many times they succumb to their need for satiation. Much like what I envision an telepathic encounter between two men must be as they make their final decisions to ravage one another.

America: I am not here to castigate anyone for their choice of lifestyle. I am simply asking pointed questions which I believe should be answered and understood before we go further into a room with no lights, walls, railings, or exits. As adults, we have a responsibility to the youth who look to us for answers to their many questions of life. We need to take on more accountability in how we respond. Let’s look deeply at how confusing it is for a child to understand the basic foundations of life when a man is dressed like and desires to be treated like a woman in the open forum. We all have sexual fantasies of some sort, but responsible individuals understand that those things are to be held closely and only acted out in private. Openly excessive displays of hetero-, homo- or bi-sexual lusts should be frown upon. Our children are being exposed to spirits far to complex for them to fully understand and because of the poor rate of full parental involvement, these spirits re-present themselves through the subconscious mind if firmer bases of reality and perspective are not held. We need to define who and what we are, and stop being so quick to change that for the sake of tranquility. Men are required in such times as these, and what we seem to have not taken notice of is the erosion of masculinity throughout our culture. The truth to the matter is the sexuality is something which varies from culture to culture and morphs throughout the time-space continuum. At some point or another virtually everything has been accepted and rejected. We are not inventing the wheel here. What it seems however is that much like the pre-teen, America; still in its immature stages of growth, is experiencing an identity crisis. Who we are, what we want, how we get it, and through which means are all still being developed as this nation shifts in influence between the majority and its many minorities. We must be careful though, the rest of the world is watching. Openly flaunting or displaying weakness is luxury we do not have.

-Mustafa A. Shakur