WBEZ | homophobia http://www.wbez.org/tags/homophobia Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 'Big Brother' 15: an opportunity to discuss discrimination of all forms http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-07/big-brother-15-opportunity-discuss-discrimination-all-forms-108178 <p><div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/big-brother-768.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 310px; float: left;" title="(CBS)" /></div></div><div>&#39;Only what can be seen can be considered real. Reality is not based on what you tell me, but what I choose to see and believe and recognize. Everything else holds no place in my world. &#39;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This mindset appears on the surface to be harmless enough, but when it comes to forms of discrimination and prejudice, the voice of the narrator is far too often considered as unbelievable as the events themselves. As a society, we have been taught to recognize homophobia or racism or sexism in as blatant of terms as possible, and ignore the smaller things.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>When I was younger, I had a friend who had a difficult time understanding the microagressions I faced in my seemingly diverse school. <a href="http://www.div17.org/TAAR/media/topics/microaggressions.php" target="_blank">According to TAARM</a> (Taking Action Against Racism in the Media), microagressions are, &ldquo;brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults towards people of color. Those who inflict racial microaggressions are often unaware that they have done anything to harm another person.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Are you sure you&rsquo;re not just over thinking things?&rdquo; she would ask when, for example, during regulated classroom debates or discussions, my teacher would call me &ldquo;aggressive,&rdquo; &ldquo;angry,&rdquo; and &ldquo;confrontational&rdquo; whenever I disagreed with a fellow classmate.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;What else do I need to prove my point?&rdquo; I would ask her. &ldquo;A burning cross?&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It was not until my parents came to see him that he &ndash; a seemingly &ldquo;perfect&rdquo; far-left liberal &ndash; recognized that his words spoken in front of the entire class were problematic, at best, and emotionally crippling at worst.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbezs-changing-channels/changing-channels-podcast" target="_blank">the first episode</a> of WBEZ&rsquo;s <a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbezs-changing-channels" target="_blank"><em>Changing Channels</em></a> podcast, I said that <em>Big Brother</em> was one of my most anticipated shows of the summer. Like every other summer, I looked forward to the drama, manipulations, and lies of the <em>Big Brother</em> house guests. Hurtful comments are a given on a show in which contestants compete in challenges in order to eat good food, control what happens in the house, and avoid losing out on a $500,000 grand prize.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>I have been a secret fan of the reality competition since it began and regularly troll online forums like <a href="http://Jokersupdates.com" target="_blank">Jokersupdates.com</a> or <a href="http://ONTDBB.tumblr.com" target="_blank">ONTDBB</a> for the latest information about the house guests. Season 15 began in late June and features a standard cast (beautiful, young, athletic, slightly diverse). What has not been &ldquo;standard,&rdquo; however, is the <a href="http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidethebox/2013/06/big-brother-15-house-the-racism-misogyny-and-homophobia-comes-out.html" target="_blank">abundance</a> of racist, homophobic, ableist, and sexist <a href="http://forums.jokersupdates.com/ubbthreads/showthreaded.php?Board=BBDiscussion&amp;Number=19470364" target="_blank">comments</a> uttered by the house guests (seen above). In seasons past, such low level attacks were rarely seen (at least on the CBS broadcast) and if they occurred, they were usually only said by one or two house guests at most.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This season has included offensive comments from numerous house guests, like Aaryn who said, when Helen, a Korean-American contestant was crying, that she should &ldquo;shut up, go make some rice.&rdquo; Or Spencer, who has referred to Andy, a gay contestant (and local Chicagoan) as a f-- and women in the house as c---s. Additional comments from four other contestants (Ginamarie, Jeremy, Kaitlin, and Amanda) have sullied the mood of the house.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The comments have sparked outrage among the public. A <a href="https://www.change.org/petitions/cbs-television-network-to-expel-current-contestant-of-big-brother-15-aaryn-gries" target="_blank">petition</a> to remove the most problematic house guest was created and both Aaryn and <a href="http://insidetv.ew.com/2013/07/03/big-brother-ginamarie-zimmerman-loses-job-racist-comments/" target="_blank">Ginamarie</a> have been fired or dropped from their jobs outside of the house.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But similar to the Paula Deen fiasco, the public outrage reflects the ways in which we dissect offensive behavior: go big or go home.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>We obviously should be talking about the problems with such statements. Although the term microagression is typically applied toward racially or ethnically-charged incidents, the act in itself can be applied to other marginalized populations. It&rsquo;s disappointing to think that a greater public outcry does not occur when smaller acts of racism or homophobia or sexism or ableism occur on television.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This diminishes the impact of incidences such as microaggressions. It pretends that racism or sexism or homophobia or ableism only exist when they play into our mainstream ideas of what racism or sexism or homophobia actually are. There is no racism unless the n-word is dropped. There is no sexism unless it is in the law to discriminate based on gender. There is no homophobia unless it is coupled with violence. Essentially, there is no discrimination until those outside of the marginalized group &ldquo;recognize&rdquo; it as so.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Big Brother controversy provides an ample opportunity for more media outlets to not only report on the nastiness and the the outrage, but to also spark further discussion on how these statements are not just &ldquo;flukes&rdquo; of the house.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In a recent interview, newly evicted house guest Jeremy claimed that, &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not racist, sexist, or homophobic&rdquo; despite the fact that he regularly called the women in the house &ldquo;bitches.&rdquo; If the house guests can&rsquo;t even recognize it when they do it, how can we expect people in other situations to recognize it when they witness it?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the media, we can&#39;t just say, &quot;this is bad.&quot; We must also say, &quot;this is an example of the way some people think,&quot; and ask, &quot;What can we do to help end this?&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In order to better eradicate racism, homophobia, ableism, and sexism, we must actively recognize all forms of them, from the brief and commonplace forms of &ldquo;hostile, derogatory, or negative slights and insults,&rdquo; to the aggressive and confrontational interactions we read as offensive. And more importantly, we must also listen to and trust those who report when such aggressions &ndash; of all shapes and sizes &ndash; occur. Willful ignorance is no longer acceptable. In truth, it has never been okay.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em><strong>Britt Julious</strong>&nbsp;writes about culture in and outside of Chicago. Follow Britt&#39;s essays for&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">WBEZ&#39;s Tumblr</a>&nbsp;or on Twitter&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/britticisms" target="_blank">@britticisms</a>.</em></div></p> Thu, 25 Jul 2013 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-07/big-brother-15-opportunity-discuss-discrimination-all-forms-108178 NOM caught in lie about Chicago Bears' donation http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-04/nom-caught-lie-about-chicago-bears-donation-106514 <p><div><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1337256000000.cached.jpg" style="float: right; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="File: From left, Martha and Stan Harper hold signs in support of the National Organization for Marriage on Aug. 10, 2010 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (AP)" />On Wednesday, <a href="http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2013/04/03/another-homophobic-nfl-team" target="_blank">Dan Savage</a> and Equality Matters gave Chicagoans a <a href="http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/nom-bears-false-witness-chicago-bears-call-nom-claims-about-support-false/marriage/2013/04/03/64368" target="_blank">heart attack</a> when they informed us that our beloved Bears (the sports team kind) may be collaborating with a hate group. Equality <a href="http://equalitymatters.org/blog/201304030002#.UVyLtJG0-FZ.facebook" target="_blank">passed along</a> an email from Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of the National Organization for Marriage, who runs NOM&rsquo;s Ruth Institute Gala. The &ldquo;esteemed&rdquo; doctor (probably a mail-in thing) specifically trumpeted coveted donations from the Bears organization, which included signed memorabilia from Brian Urlacher and Walter Payton.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Dr. Doom wrote:</div><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This year, we&#39;re planning on sending our graduates off with a bang! And we&#39;ve got some help! Several donors have stepped up and donated terrific items for us to raffle as prizes in an effort to raise funds for ITAF &#39;13...</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;For now, you should know that we have two fabulous raffle items from the Chicago Bears Organization (and a huge THANK YOU to the Bears for supporting our message).&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">It was news to the Bears organization, who had no idea what Roback Morse was talking about. When WBEZ contacted the Bears for comment, we received the same message that went out to the rest of the press:</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The two items featured in The Ruth Institute gala invitation were personal donations to (President) Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse. Neither was a club donation, nor do they represent the team&#39;s view on any social issues. Any remarks stating otherwise are false.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">The <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/football/bears/chi-chicago-bears-same-sex-marriage-20130403,0,4979361.story" target="_blank">Chicago Tribune</a> backed up the team&rsquo;s assertion that the relationship was in Roback Morse&#39;s head:</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&quot;I sign a lot of stuff for charity and I don&#39;t always know where it goes,&quot; Urlacher told the Tribune. &quot;If I would have known it was for this cause, I wouldn&#39;t have done it.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Payton&#39;s older brother Eddie Payton said he did not know of any memorabilia regarding his brother used to support an anti-gay marriage group.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;This is the first I&#39;ve heard of it,&quot; said Payton, a former NFL kick returner. &quot;Walter treated everybody equal. …Only Walter could speak for himself, but it&#39;s a touchy subject. It should be a non-subject.&quot;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Before the explosion got too big, Roback Morse decided to walk away from it slowly and coolly, like in a Michael Bay movie, lest anyone realized what had happened. To minimize damage, the goodly doctor issued a complete retraction:</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&quot;The Ruth Institute is not working with the Chicago Bears organization or any of its players past or present to promote our upcoming auction. The memorabilia we are auctioning off was acquired by me personally, not through the team or players. We understand that the Chicago Bears organization takes no position on social issues, and we regret any confusion we may have caused on this point.&quot;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">But what did happen here? If you translate this email from PR doublespeak into plain English, it comes out to:</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The Ruth Institute lies lies lies lies lies lies lies. Et cetera, et cetera. Clarification of previous lie. Deeply sorry, et cetera. Never do it again, et cetera. Didn&rsquo;t mean to cause harm, et cetera. America, et cetera. Love football, et cetera. We&rsquo;re still bigots, et cetera.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The Latin roots can be a little misleading, but according to my scholars fluent in hate, that&rsquo;s the gist.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicagoans have taken solace in knowing that the Bears were completely let off the hook here for any wrongdoing. But the reality of NOM is still sick and depressing. The <a href="http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pro-family-leaders-warn-that-hate-group-label-defines-christianity-as-bigotry/" target="_blank">National Organization for Marriage</a> is a <a href="http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2013/03/26/national-organization-for-marriage-has-a-rough-start-to-2013/" target="_blank">notorious hate group</a>, as measured by the <a href="http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2012/summer/shading-the-truth" target="_blank">Southern Poverty Law Center</a>&rsquo;s &ldquo;Flaming Bigotry Meter.&rdquo; (Their hate <a href="http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2012/summer/shading-the-truth" target="_blank">goes up to 11</a>.) <a href="http://equalitymatters.org/blog/201304030002#.UVyLtJG0-FZ.facebook" target="_blank">Equality Matters</a> surveyed the organization last year only to find that <a href="http://www.hrc.org/nomexposed" target="_blank">NOM</a> conferences &ldquo;peddled&rdquo; anti-gay propaganda to attendees.</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: justify;">According to <a href="http://equalitymatters.org/blog/201304030002#.UVyLtJG0-FZ.facebook" target="_blank">Equality</a>, this is what everyone&rsquo;s favorite Dirty Bigot Liars were telling people:</p><ul dir="ltr"><li style="text-align: justify;">&quot;Same-sex parents are more likely to molest their children than heterosexual parents</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Children raised by gay parents are more likely to identify as gay</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Homosexuality is a sin akin to polygamy or incest</li><li style="text-align: justify;">Same-sex relationships are &ldquo;dysfunctional&rdquo; and &ldquo;inherently unstable&rdquo;</li></ul><p dir="ltr">In addition, one of the speakers at <a href="http://www.ruthinstitute.org/ITAF12/" target="_blank">ITAF</a>, Robert Gagnon, <a href="http://equalitymatters.org/blog/201304030002#.UVyLtJG0-FZ.facebook" target="_blank">once compared</a> high schools&rsquo; Gay-Straight Alliance groups to &ldquo;Nazi skinheads&rdquo; and opines that LGBT people are &ldquo;worthy of death.&rdquo; Gagnon will be presenting at the conference again this year, because one good hate speech deserves another.</p><p dir="ltr">This might not be surprising to anyone familiar with NOM&#39;s radical, exclusionary politics, nor will it be a shock that opponents of marriage equality are willing to lie and spread false propaganda to curtail the nuptial rights of queer people. We&rsquo;re seeing that in Illinois. Remember those robocalls about &ldquo;homosexual money?&rdquo; If it was a promise, I&rsquo;m still waiting to receive mine. I&rsquo;m hoping they show up with a big, gay million dollar bill like Ed McMahon.</p><p dir="ltr">However, despite what the organization&rsquo;s name suggests, it&rsquo;s not just about marriage. It&rsquo;s about keeping queer people afraid. It&rsquo;s about maintaining a system that works against queer families, lives and livelihoods and rolling back the hard-earned rights we&rsquo;ve fought for. It&rsquo;s about ensuring that it will never get better, ever &mdash; no matter how many people die to get there.</p><p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s particularly pathetic that NOM is trying to bring the Chicago Bears into their anti-gay politics, especially at a time when the NFL is attempting to fight its own history of homophobia and queer exclusion. Last week, the NFL players&rsquo; union came out to <a href="http://www.tallahassee.com/article/20130326/OPINION05/303260002/NFL-union-weighs-same-sex-marriage" target="_blank">support same-gay marriage</a>, a huge step forward for an industry that&rsquo;s been afraid to even acknowledge the existence of queer people. Slowly, the NFL is coming out of the closet, and NOM is trying to shove them right back in.</p><p dir="ltr">Other than their right-wing supporters, few take NOM seriously. Who cares about Roback Morse or what she thinks? No one even knew who she was until this week. Luckily, they won&#39;t know next week, either. Obscurity is a beautiful place.</p><p dir="ltr">However, a great number of people care what the Bears think. Locally and nationally, the Bears are a symbol of masculinity and part of how the culture teaches young boys to be men (which, apparently, means covering your body in orange and blue paint and yelling &ldquo;Woop! Woop!&rdquo; in the cold).</p><p dir="ltr">As a kid reading Sports Illustrated, I looked up to my sports heroes to teach me what brotherhood and leadership were. Teams throw around these concepts but so often don&rsquo;t live up to them.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicagoans hoped that the Bears would come out on the right side of history and show queer and allied fans that everyone&rsquo;s support matters. By speaking out against NOM&#39;s claim, the Bears have sent a great message about what teamwork means to them: that a team means all of us, Bears and Chicagoans alike. If they could show their support by one day having a gay player on the team, all the better.</p><p dir="ltr">In the meantime, the Bears have exposed NOM&#39;s hate for what it is: full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Nico Lang covers LGBTQ issues in Chicago. You can follow Nico on <a href="http://achatwithnicolang.tumblr.com" target="_blank">Tumblr</a> and <a href="http://www.twitter.com/nico_lang" target="_blank">Twitter</a> or find them on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/nicorlang" target="_blank">Facebook</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 05 Apr 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-04/nom-caught-lie-about-chicago-bears-donation-106514 Heterophobia is not real http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-03/heterophobia-not-real-106263 <p><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt; text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/89011.jpg" style="width: 601px; height: 260px;" title="(AP)" /></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Quiz question! What does heterophobia have in common with Manti Teo&rsquo;s girlfriend, Keyser Soze, Brontosauruses and &ldquo;Having It All?&rdquo; </span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Answer: None of these things exist.</span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">A debate about the existence of heterophobia -- spotted in the wild by scared hunters as it foraged for homosexual berries -- has been at the heart of a recent controversy on Tumblr.</span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">In recent months, the heterophobia tag on Tumblr has turned into a space where heterosexual users can decry &ldquo;mean homosexuals&rdquo; who make them feel bad for being homophobic. Instead of looking at criticism as a moment of reflection and a learning opportunity, these folks would rather pull out the privilege card -- and the term &ldquo;<a href="http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/privilege-shaming">privilege shaming</a>&rdquo; has actually been coined. </span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Yes, folks. People are now shaming people for shaming them for being narrow-minded, bigoted bags of phalluses. This is what happens on the internet. To think, some people just look at porn.</span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">To describe anti-anti-gay behavior, homophobes are using the term &ldquo;heterophobia&rdquo; to show those angry queers the error of their ways, and one post in particular has been circling the interwebs like a buzzard looking for rotting meat. It claims that &ldquo;heterophobia is just as bad as homophobia.&rdquo; I won&#39;t link to it here, because that&#39;s hits, so you should read this <a href="http://widowblacks.tumblr.com/post/45168796774/heterophobia-is-just-as-bad-as-homophobia-you">response</a> instead. Isn&#39;t that better?</span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">If you&rsquo;re upset about people just making up words now, a) don&rsquo;t go on Tumblr, ever and b) the term isn&rsquo;t new. According to Dr. Ray Noonan, the misnomer &ldquo;heterophobia&rdquo; was coined in the 80&rsquo;s and first graced the academic page in 1990 as a way to describe the feelings of distrust that queer people sometimes feel toward a society where they are marginalized and systemically abused. It&#39;s not bigotry in the way we think about homophobia. It&#39;s fear; it&#39;s angst; it&#39;s paranoia. It&#39;s that emotion you feel when a group of bros are walking down the street late at night, and you&#39;re unsure of whether you should be scared. It&#39;s learning to expect the worst from a society you think hates you.</span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">However, this version is not the same thing. The term elsewhere gained parlance as a way to discredit the growing equality movement and call their campaign for equal rights &ldquo;reverse discrimination.&rdquo; For homophobes, it&rsquo;s not heterosexuals that are the problem, but the gay agenda who sees a problem where one does not exist. Queer people simply <em>hate </em>straight people. Hate is hate, y&#39;all -- except that it&#39;s not the same thing at all.</span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Eminem used this argument on his 2000 album, </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">The Marshall Mathers LP</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">. The record itself, like much of Slim Shady&rsquo;s early career, is stunningly homophobic -- for which Eminem was much criticized by queer listeners. (Remember the Elton John mea culpa performance? That was fun.) On &ldquo;Criminal,&rdquo; Eminem responded to his gay critics in the way only an immature, misogynistic wifebeater can -- by putting the onus on them. Em informed us, on this &ldquo;critically acclaimed&rdquo; track:</span></b></p><blockquote><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge/That&#39;ll stab you in the head/Whether you&#39;re a fag or lez/Or the homosex, hermaph or a trans-a-vest/Pants or dress - hate fags? The answer&#39;s &quot;yes&quot;/Homophobic? Nah, you&#39;re just heterophobic.&rdquo;</span></b></p></blockquote><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Since then, Eminem has come a long way on bigotry, but at the time, the song helped &ldquo;bring back&rdquo; heterophobia as a word that people use and a nice &ldquo;Get Out of Bigotry Free&rdquo; Card. The term allows queer people to be dismissed for having an opinion, and the idea has hung around in popular culture, from preachers who use it to sanctify God&rsquo;s law to <a href="http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2011/06/cee-lo-green-tweets-homophobic-comments-following-negative-review/">Cee-Lo Green</a> blaming a female critic for not liking his show. Green responded to the negative review by saying: &ldquo;I&rsquo;m guessing ur gay? And my masculinity offended u? Well f--k u!&rdquo;</span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">This rationale is similar to the one that <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/amyodell/daniel-tosh-has-been-making-rape-jokes-for-years">Daniel Tosh</a> infamously displayed last year by verbally assaulting a female attendee at his show. In his act, Tosh claimed that all rape jokes were funny because &ldquo;rape is hilarious,&rdquo; and one woman called him out for it. Tosh then replied: &#39;Wouldn&#39;t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her?&rdquo; Rather than taking responsibility for his comedy and the message it sends to women, Tosh blamed the victims.</span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;Heterophobia&rdquo; seeks to do the same thing as a rhetorical tool, but the problem is that it makes no sense. Even at a linguistic level, it means the opposite of what its heterosexual user thinks it means. &ldquo;Hetero&rdquo; means difference and &ldquo;phobia&rdquo; translates to fear, equaling &ldquo;fear of difference&rdquo; when you put them together. So, technically, heterosexuals are engaging in the exact kind of activity that they are attempting to shed light on. Call out fail, guys. You can do better.</span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">On top of being etymologically nonsensical, inciting heterophobia (to quote my friend, </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-03/gay-marriage-conservative-cause-argument-against-equality-106068">Yasmin Nair</a>)</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> is the &ldquo;most outrageous, insensitive, doltish, demeaning argument ever.&rdquo; To use the term at any time in any context ever makes you Glenn Beck levels of ignorant, stupid and awful. It&rsquo;s a disservice to linguistics, all argumentation ever (sorry, Socrates) and any dignity you have as a human being. Anyone who ever, <em>ever </em>believes that heterophobia and homophobia are even remotely equivalent should neuter themselves with a rusty paper clip, lest future generations mutate more clustercusses of stupidity.</span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Heterophobia, as straight people &quot;define it,&quot; is a queer person making you check your privilege. Heterophobia is walking into a space that you don&rsquo;t own and realizing that your rules might not apply here, and that you have to be mindful of your use of pronouns, chosen name and/or consent. Heterophobia is someone telling you that you need to be a better ally and pushing you to be more accountable and mindful in your relationships to others. Heterophobia isn&rsquo;t a phobia at all but a part of life, realizing that you don&rsquo;t know everything and that you have learning and growing to do. </span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">If forcing straight people not to erase my bisexuality and be respectful of my gender and the identities of those around me makes me a heterophobe, then sign me up for heterophobia. I&rsquo;m the biggest heterophobe the world has ever seen. I will march down the street waving my flag of heterophobia. I won&rsquo;t stop until my heterophobia is recognized as being valid. I will not rest until we don&#39;t call it heterophobia anymore. We can just call it demanding respect. </span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">I&rsquo;ll tell you what heterophobia isn&rsquo;t. Heterophobia is not equivalent to a systemic norm that bullies queer youth and tells them they aren&rsquo;t good enough to live. Heterophobia didn&rsquo;t push me down on the playground or throw my backpack in the garbage. Heterophobia didn&rsquo;t whisper behind my back or make me feel like no one would ever be friends with me, if they knew who I really was. Heterophobia didn&rsquo;t ignore me when I came out or ruin my relationship with my father or scream &ldquo;Hey, there&rsquo;s the f*g!&rdquo; in my high school hallway. Heterophobia didn&rsquo;t tell me I didn&rsquo;t belong in church. Heterophobia didn&rsquo;t tell me that God wanted me dead. </span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Because it doesn&rsquo;t exist. It&rsquo;s the tool of those want to believe that God is right but are too afraid to say it themselves. It&rsquo;s the tool of cowards who would rather feel vindicated in their hatred than recognize it for what it is. It&rsquo;s the tool of those who would rather keep the system the way it is, or refuse to recognize there&rsquo;s a system at all, than work to change it. Heterophobia says you are wrong and<em> irrational</em> for critiquing the system. Heterophobia says that good queers don&rsquo;t question their second class status, because their worth is conferred on them by agreeing with straight people. Heterophobia says that good queers stay quiet. Heterophobia says you shouldn&rsquo;t fight back.</span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">If there&rsquo;s any good that&rsquo;s come out of this, it&rsquo;s that Tumblr users banded together to drown out the Tumblr homophobes by <a href="http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/heterophobia">reclaiming th</a></span></b><a href="http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/heterophobia"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">e term </span></b></a><b style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">and taking it back from anyone who even remotely believes the term to be valid. A Tumblr user who goes by the catchy name of &ldquo;<a href="http://shutthefuckupstraightpeople.tumblr.com">Shut the F*ck Up Straight People</a>&rdquo; proposed that <a href="http://shutthefuckupstraightpeople.tumblr.com/post/45688137627/reclaim-the-heterophobia-tag">followers</a> &ldquo;write a post (or numerous posts) about heterophobia. Like, why it&rsquo;s not a thing or why it&rsquo;s amazing or why you are one or anything you like, really.&rdquo;</span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">In response, Tumblr has seen hundreds of users flood the dashboard with posts turning the table on the term, showing how hollow and meaningless the idea is. Here&rsquo;s a list of my personal favorite submissions:</span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">1. From <a href="http://punkcub.tumblr.com/">PunkCub</a>: &ldquo;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">You don&rsquo;t go homo or bi or trans to hell. The expression is &lsquo;going </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">straight</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">to hell.&rsquo; Wake up America.&rdquo;</span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">2. From <a href="http://purplebeards.tumblr.com">PurpleBeards</a>: &ldquo;W</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">ith all the oppression and heterophobia that&rsquo;s been occurring recently, I feel it would really help if I tell them to their face that I for one am very open-minded and have no problem at all with them being straight. In fact, I know quite a few straight people, and I&rsquo;ve never once had a problem with it. I&rsquo;ve been to some straight weddings too, I don&rsquo;t totally agree with it but I&rsquo;ll support their rights all the same. I&rsquo;m a gay ally.&rdquo;</span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">3. From <a href="http://cookingpyro.tumblr.com">CookingPyro</a>: &ldquo;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Once someone pointed out a straight to me, but it was actually a pair of impeccably ironed slacks. One time, I tried starting a Straight-Straight Alliance club at my school to lure out the heteros, but all I got was a one piece swimsuit, a croissant, and a picture of Ben Stiller.&rdquo;</span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">4. From <a href="http://howlsofexecution.tumblr.com">HowlsofExecution</a>: &ldquo;</span><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">So, heterophobia isn&rsquo;t a thing. Like, does everyone remember that time that show got boycotted and people were outraged over because a heterosexual couple kissed?! No? You don&rsquo;t remember that? Oh, right. That&rsquo;s because it never happened.&quot;</span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">5. From <a href="http://cleromancy.tumblr.com">Cleromanc</a>y: &ldquo;Making heterophobia jokes may not advance &lsquo;The Cause,&rsquo; but it sure as heck makes me feel better about the institutionalized oppression that I gotta deal with every day. So, how many heteros does it take to screw in a lightbulb?&rdquo;</span></b></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><b id="internal-source-marker_0.6344994446262717" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Georgia; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">We can&rsquo;t erase homophobia or mend decades of systemic oppression in one Tumblr post, but it feels a lot better when we fight back together.</span></b></p><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Nico Lang blogs about LGBTQ life in Chicago. You can follow Nico on Twitter @Nico_Lang or on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/NicoRLang">Facebook</a>.</em></div></p> Mon, 25 Mar 2013 07:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-03/heterophobia-not-real-106263 The good, bigoted people http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-03/good-bigoted-people-105967 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/121227_westboro_baptist_church-_ap_328.jpg" style="width: 530px; height: 280px;" title="(AP Photo) Westboro Baptist Church" /></div></div><p>When you&rsquo;re a kid, you don&rsquo;t see difference. You&#39;re trained to see difference by a society that tells you that other people are not like you. You are told to hate that.</p><p>When I was small, both of my younger brothers were born with genetic illnesses they wouldn&rsquo;t survive. Because we couldn&rsquo;t afford a nurse to take care of them, or food most of the time, the state paid for an in-home nurse. Her name was Julia, and she was black. I was best friends with her daughter, Lauren.&nbsp; Lauren and I would play Cowboys and Indians together after school, and sometimes on school days when our mothers let us play hooky. Because of my brothers, I got to stay home a lot. My preschool teachers always understood.</p><p>I knew that Lauren had different skin than I did, but it didn&rsquo;t register until one day when I was watching <em>Sally Jesse Raphael </em>with her mother, who is an active television watcher like my mother. It was one of the reasons they were such good friends. Julia would lean into the television as if she wanted to touch the people inside it. The segment that day was on being black in America. During one of the discussions in the episode, Sally interviewed a young black woman about her experiences with race, and Julia said to her, &ldquo;I know how you feel, honey.&rdquo; She leaned in as if for comfort. I couldn&rsquo;t tell which direction that comfort needed to travel.</p><p>But I didn&rsquo;t understand what Julia was sad about. Julia wasn&rsquo;t &ldquo;black.&rdquo; Julia was like me, and I was like Lauren. Julia was us, and us couldn&rsquo;t be black&mdash;whatever that signified. I walked up to her and put my hand on her shoulder. I tried to console her, &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t worry. You&rsquo;re not black. You&rsquo;re just made of chocolate.&rdquo; Julia immediately exploded with laughter, so hard that she fell off the couch.</p><p>I wouldn&rsquo;t understand what it meant to be different until I went off to elementary school and saw that no one else looked like her, where the other kids asked me about my Asian last name. It wasn&rsquo;t until I made a drawing of my Native American ancestors as an assignment for Diversity Day, while everyone else created cute cartoon leprechauns and pieces of pizza, and they looked at me as if I drew an alien. It wasn&rsquo;t until I asked my stepsister if she would marry someone &ldquo;who didn&rsquo;t look like she did.&rdquo; She responded: &ldquo;You mean a black person? No, that&rsquo;s disgusting.&rdquo;</p><p>I was ten and my stepsister was eight. We were at my father&rsquo;s wedding to his second wife, her mother, and I told her we couldn&rsquo;t be friends anymore and refused to speak to her for the rest of the reception. When my father found out, he took me outside and scolded me. Trying to be a good husband and keep the party going, my father promised me punishment when I got home. In the meantime, he told me to stop being rude and enjoy myself. He kissed me on the forehead and told me he loved me. This was for my own good.</p><p>My parents taught me what gay people were. Before he divorced my mother, I remember watching a Richard Simmons video at home with my father and Julia. Julia loved Richard Simmons and so did I&mdash;for his loud costumes, wild hair and the way the screen lit up when he was on camera. Simmons didn&rsquo;t look like most other people I saw on TV, and his voice was unbearably shrill, but I liked that. It was how my prepubescent, pre-queer voice sounded. I thought he meant I could be myself. Instead, my father made us change the channel, because he didn&rsquo;t want to watch <em>that</em>. I asked him what &quot;that&quot; was. I wanted know why I wasn&rsquo;t allowed to sweat to the oldies. I felt like Lucy Ricardo, kept from the one thing I really wanted for reasons that weren&rsquo;t clear. Why couldn&rsquo;t I be in the show? He wouldn&#39;t say.</p><p>The next time I saw Richard Simmons on TV, I changed the channel myself.</p><p>A few years later, I was driving down the road with my mother after we went to get a soda at the store. I bought a Sprite because it had the most bubbles, and I liked the way they tickled my nose when they reached the surface. I put it between my legs so I could put my hands out the rolled-down window, trying to grab the summer air. We were listening to Elton John, as he pined in space for a home he could never return to. Elton John was my mother&rsquo;s favorite, and she loved him dearly. She sometimes would sway with him in the dark as she got used to a life without my father. Elton was her candle in the divorce. However, she told me that if she I found out I was &ldquo;like <em>that</em>,&rdquo; she would &ldquo;lock me in a closet and beat me.&rdquo; I got it now.</p><p>I accidentally squeezed the Sprite between my legs, and the bubbles burst everywhere. They didn&rsquo;t tickle this time. They were cold.</p><p>I brought this incident up to my mother almost a decade afterward, because it was a formative memory from my childhood. When I grew older and my queerness became apparent, my mother became an ally and, more importantly, someone I could talk to, and she doesn&rsquo;t remember a time when she was not supportive or wasn&rsquo;t by my side, fighting with me. But I remember things differently. I remember when I was nine and having a hard time relating to the other kids around me, not as athletic and coordinated as the other boys or socially adept enough to hang out with the girls. I felt like I would never be accepted or have someone to love me for who I was.</p><p>When I asked her if she would be my friend, my mother admitted that if she were my age, she wouldn&rsquo;t be. She didn&#39;t hang out with kids like me back when she was in school.</p><p>She probably thought she was being helpful by being honest. She was being a good mother, sparing me years of pain by encouraging me to just fit in and keep my difference to myself. I needed to be like other boys&mdash;or I would always be picked on for being too short and too much of a &quot;sissy.&quot; I would always be the kid whose backpack was thrown in the garbage can and the one nobody would sit next to on the bus. I was destined to be alone. Adolesence is much easier when you drift along with the current and stop fighting the waves. It&rsquo;s a lot like drowning.</p><p>You don&rsquo;t hate by accident. You have to be taught to hate&mdash;in little ways that are reinforced every day, ways you might not even recognize. In my case, hating yourself takes a lifetime. It involves the help of many people around you. It takes standing in church and watching everyone talk to a God they think hates you, listening to a bunch of people silently pray that you will pay for being different, because they think it&rsquo;s the right thing to do. They think they are doing what God wants. I remember the nice ladies in church who hugged me when I was in the closet and hugged me differently after I came out, when I kept going to the same Baptist congregation, daring them not to accept me. They hugged me harder because they didn&rsquo;t want to let go of something. They just weren&rsquo;t sure of what.</p><p>No one thinks of themselves as a bigot. They don&rsquo;t look in the mirror and say, &ldquo;I hate gay people. I am a homophobe.&rdquo; Those women didn&rsquo;t hate me. They loved me so much that they didn&rsquo;t want me to stay the way I was. They didn&rsquo;t want me to experience an eternity of damnation. They wanted to save me, just like my mother did. My mother didn&rsquo;t want me to come home crying or have to stay up late with me because I was too scared to go to school the next day. She didn&rsquo;t want the world to break my heart at such a young age, and it was too hard to ask everyone around me to change. So she asked me to change and broke my heart her own way. I was the one being punished again for not understanding what being different meant.</p><p>I thought about this some months ago when I read a tweet from &ldquo;<a href="http://www.twitter.com/morgonfreeman">Morgon Freeman</a>,&rdquo; a fake Twitter account that facetiously bills itself as &quot;messages from God&quot;&mdash;or Black Hollywood God. In the tweet, Freeman <a href="https://twitter.com/MorgonFreeman/status/236212081978929152">wrote</a>, &ldquo;I hate the word homophobia. You are not scared. You are an asshole.&rdquo; Were those nice ladies from church assholes? Was my mother being an asshole? Is my father still an asshole? My father and I haven&rsquo;t had a real conversation in years, not just because I&rsquo;m queer but because there&rsquo;s something about me he fundamentally can&rsquo;t relate to.</p><p>When I took Eric, my brother from my father&rsquo;s second marriage, to see <em>Life of Pi</em>, my father made a strangely big deal about it, but in a mock-genial manner. He told us it was a &ldquo;girl movie,&rdquo; and we should go see something else instead. How about the <em>Red Dawn</em> remake?</p><p>My father hadn&rsquo;t seen <em>Life of Pi</em>. He didn&rsquo;t even know what it was about. His problem wasn&rsquo;t with the movie. He couldn&rsquo;t articulate what his problem was, the problem he can never talk about, the one we&rsquo;ve never talked about. He was scared that I&rsquo;m growing up to be different than he is and that I&rsquo;m going to have a life he doesn&rsquo;t understand. He thinks he&rsquo;s going to get left behind. It&rsquo;s the same look I saw in his eyes when I was a kid and wanted to play with Barbies or asked to try on a dress. It&rsquo;s the same look I saw when I told him I was going to art school. It&rsquo;s the same look I saw when I eventually told him that the family I create wouldn&rsquo;t look like his.</p><p>He already lost two sons. He was afraid of losing another.</p><p>I thought about my father when I read Ta-Nehisi Coates&rsquo; piece on Thursday in the <em>New York Times</em>, which discussed the recent frisking of Forest Whitaker in a New York deli. This incident was yet another example of daily aggressions and microaggressions, not the capital-R racism that we&rsquo;re constantly told is a relic of the past but the smaller racisms that go ignored, the ones that thrive in the margins. It&#39;s about the racism that&#39;s so ingrained we don&#39;t notice, the racism of &quot;nice&quot; people. Coates writes,</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;In modern America we believe racism to be the property of the uniquely villainous and morally deformed, the ideology of trolls, gorgons and orcs. We believe this even when we are actually being racist&hellip;The idea that racism lives in the heart of particularly evil individuals, as opposed to the heart of a democratic society, is reinforcing to anyone who might, from time to time, find their tongue sprinting ahead of their discretion&hellip;But much worse, it haunts black people with a kind of invisible violence that is given tell only when the victim happens to be an Oscar winner.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>We do this with homophobia. We believe homophobia to be the exclusive territory of diehards, the people who wave signs that &ldquo;God Hates Fags&rdquo; or broadcast their revulsion through a microphone outside Old Navy on State Street. We label them as &ldquo;crazy&rdquo; and quickly look away.</p><p>However, bigotry isn&rsquo;t so easily identifiable. It doesn&rsquo;t always wave signs or march on your funeral or spit in your face at a Pride parade. Bigotry might be your grandfather who turns away slightly when you hug your boyfriend or your grandmother who asks you&#39;re bringing your &ldquo;friend&rdquo; to Christmas. It might be your mother who gave life to you but doesn&rsquo;t know how to deal with this other thing inside you, who fights herself to love you better. It might live in your own heart, tucked away in one of the rooms you never go into, a room you might not know is there. It might shine in that ersatz smile you show to the trans* and queer youth of color that walk down your street, the ones you push past and learn to politely ignore when you get that late-night cocktail at Minibar. It might be the neighborhood you want to keep &quot;nice.&quot;</p><p>When I reflect on 2011&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nico-lang/when-in-boystown_b_1457969.html">Take Back Boystown</a> meetings and the people who told our youths they don&#39;t belong<em> here</em>, I don&rsquo;t think about bad people. I think about people who fear losing something. I think about my father. I think we&rsquo;re all not as different as we imagine.</p><p>A great filmmaker I know once interviewed Rev. Fred Phelps for a documentary. This is how I remember her story. She told me that when she turned the camera on, Phelps spewed the conservative religious dogma he is famous for, performing the intolerance we expect of him. However, after the film stopped rolling, Rev. Fred Phelps became a different person. He offered her a glass of water, because it was a hot day and he worried she wasn&rsquo;t properly hydrated. Phelps and his wife doted on her. They cooked for her. She met members of their family. She shook their hands. She sat on their couch and talked with them.</p><p>When she said goodbye and took her crew with her, they embraced her, hugging her differently than she expected. They hugged her like they didn&rsquo;t want to let go. She told me they were the nicest people she&rsquo;s ever met.</p><p><em>Nico Lang writes about LGBTQ issues in Chicago. You can follow Nico on Twitter @<a href="http://www.twitter.com/nico_lang">Nico_Lang</a> or find Nico on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/nicorlang">Facebook</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 08 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-03/good-bigoted-people-105967 The Internet hoax of the century: Why Manti Te'o won't come out about the truth http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-01/internet-hoax-century-why-manti-teo-wont-come-out-about-truth-105018 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ap_manti_teo_dm_130117_wblog.jpg" title="(Michael Conroy/AP)" /></div><p>When I look at Manti Te&rsquo;o, I&rsquo;m not sure what to make of him. This year, Te&rsquo;o dominated the college football media because of his larger than life story&mdash;a young, determined athlete who had overcome monumental personal tragedy, including the death of his grandmother and his girlfriend&rsquo;s slow passing from leukemia, to lead his #1 team to a BCS Championship <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/notre-dame-season-alabama-bcs_n_2434944.html">game</a>. His story was like something out of an episode of <em>Friday Night Lights </em>or <em>Rudy</em>. For a college football program seeking redemption after years of underperforming, Te&rsquo;o wasn&rsquo;t just their star. He was their symbol.</p><p>But this Wednesday, Deadspin revealed that Manti Te&rsquo;o&rsquo;s &ldquo;tragic dead girlfriend&rdquo; story was a <a href="http://deadspin.com/5976517/manti-teos-dead-girlfriend-the-most-heartbreaking-and-inspirational-story-of-the-college-football-season-is-a-hoax">hoax</a>. For newcomers to the story, the plot is incredibly labyrinthine&mdash;even Christopher Nolan might need footnotes. Luckily for Chris and the rest of America, Deadspin sums up the number of fabrications involved in this controversy. Here&rsquo;s what we know at this point:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;<em>There was no Lennay Kekua</em><em>.</em> Lennay Kekua did not meet Manti Te&#39;o after the Stanford game in 2009. Lennay Kekua did not attend Stanford. Lennay Kekua never visited Manti Te&#39;o in Hawaii. Lennay Kekua was not in a car accident. Lennay Kekua did not talk to Manti Te&#39;o every night on the telephone. She was not diagnosed with cancer, did not spend time in the hospital, did not engage in a lengthy battle with leukemia. She never had a bone marrow transplant. She was not released from the hospital on Sept. 10, nor did Brian Te&#39;o congratulate her for this over the telephone. She did not insist that Manti Te&#39;o play in the Michigan State or Michigan games, and did not request he send white flowers to her funeral. Her favorite color was not white. Her brother, Koa, did not inform Manti Te&#39;o that she was dead. Koa did not exist. Her funeral did not take place in Carson, Calif., and her casket was not closed at 9 a.m. exactly. She was not laid to rest.</p><p>Lennay Kekua&#39;s last words to Manti Te&#39;o were not &lsquo;I love you.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Because the media loves nothing if not a great mystery, there are currently three popular narratives floating around to make sense of this data and this scandal. The first is the one that Manti Te&rsquo;o is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/16/manti-teo-statement-notre-dame-lennay-kekua-hoax_n_2490914.html">serving up</a> himself: He was being <em>Catfish</em>-ed&mdash;or lied to on the internet by someone who wasn&rsquo;t who they claimed to be. The second theory is that Te&rsquo;o used his sad dead girlfriend to help him win a Heisman trophy, a theory that may or may not also implicate Notre Dame in helping Te&rsquo;o keep up appearances. Currently, Notre Dame has <a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=1&amp;cad=rja&amp;ved=0CDgQqQIwAA&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffingtonpost.com%2F2013%2F01%2F16%2Fnotre-dame-statement-manti-teo_n_2490675.html&amp;ei=kXD5UP-MIqKW2AWnpIG4Bw&amp;usg=AFQjCNFlPGq2BbmeK7LfuFFG3harBfbMrA&amp;sig2=AI50iNVgQRTf2VtPJltX1g&amp;bvm=bv.41248874,d.b2I">stood behind</a> Te&rsquo;o, validating his claims that he was duped. The last theory is that Te&rsquo;o was gay and used his fake online girlfriend to hide a relationship with Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man allegedly behind keeping Lennay Kekua alive.</p><p>As the media is quickly discovering, only one of these theories makes sense&mdash;despite being currently labeled as a &ldquo;rumor.&rdquo; If Theory #1 is true, Te&rsquo;o is incredibly naïve and gullible, allowing himself to be deceived via an internet con that even Danny Ocean would describe as laughably elaborate. However, Te&rsquo;o was friends with Tuiasosopo separately and claimed that he met Lennay Kekua, which would be difficult if Kekua were a figment of the internet&rsquo;s imagination. He could have met a girl pretending to be Kekua, but Deadspin contacted the girl from the pictures&mdash;who asked to be called &ldquo;Reba&rdquo; to protect her identity&mdash;and she assured she was not in on the hoax. Tuiasosopo asked to take pictures of her that he then used for Leenay&rsquo;s Twitter profile. Theory #2 is then more likely, although this version makes Te&rsquo;o absurdly sociopathic. But if Theory #2 is the case, why would Te&rsquo;o need her to get in a car accident <em>and</em> die of leukemia to get great press out of it? Maybe I haven&rsquo;t had enough fake leukemia-stricken internet girlfriends, but to me, that&#39;s just overkill.</p><p>Or: Theory #3. He&rsquo;s gay. Queerty gives us a <a href="http://www.queerty.com/dead-girlfriend-hoax-has-people-asking-if-linebacker-manti-teo-is-gay-20130117/">great introduction</a> to this version of the Te&rsquo;o Myth:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Adding more confusion to the mix is Te&rsquo;o&#39;s friend&nbsp;Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who allegedly created&nbsp;Kekua&rsquo;s Twitter account back in 2008, and used it to meet unsuspecting men. Te&rsquo;o wasn&rsquo;t the first person to have an online &ldquo;relationship&rdquo; with her. One mark&mdash;who had been &ldquo;introduced&rdquo; to Lennay by Tuiasosopo&mdash;lasted about a month before family members grew suspicious that Lennay could never be found on the telephone, and that wherever one expected Lennay to be, Ronaiah was there instead.</p><p>It wouldn&rsquo;t be the first time a gay man had created a fake profile to attract straight guys. But why did Te&rsquo;o go along? Why did he <em>build&nbsp;</em>on the ruse? Just last November Tuiasosopo&nbsp;and his family were on-field guests of Teo&rsquo;s when Notre Dame played USC.&nbsp;And Tuiasosopo was in a car accident about a month before Te&rsquo;o told the press Kekua had one.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Although Deadspin interviews sources close to Tuiasosopo, who claim they are 80% sure Ronaiah was Lennay Kekua and Te&rsquo;o was in on it, none of them bring up the Gay Theory&mdash;which is presumably then worse than making up a dead girlfriend for publicity. You can lie to the media in numerous interviews, leverage your web of deceit into landing the cover of Sports Illustrated and be almost rewarded for being the Richard Nixon of College Football with a shiny Heisman, as long as you aren&rsquo;t all homosexual about it.</p><p>When I explained this to my father, who was flabbergasted by the onslaught on information coming out about Te&rsquo;o&rsquo;s falsehoods, he said that he couldn&rsquo;t imagine why any person would go to so much trouble to hide something. He was under the impression it was easier to make history than to stay in the closet. I then told my father that if Te&rsquo;o is gay, I can&rsquo;t blame him for not being open about it. As a Mormon football star going to Notre Dame, he&rsquo;s playing the nation&rsquo;s most conservative sport in one of our most conservative schools while practicing our most conservative religion. If Te&rsquo;o is a friend of Dorothy, he doesn&rsquo;t have to break through one barrier&mdash;by becoming the first openly gay football player. He has to break through three. His co-conspirator, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, comes from a devout football clan, and his family members have played for Colorado, USC and the L.A Rams. When Tuiasosopo quit football, he became a gospel singer in his father&rsquo;s church.</p><p>If these men were indeed gay and wanted to be together, the mountain they would have to climb couldn&rsquo;t possibly be higher, and their decision would come with extraordinary personal and professional cost. These are the kinds of variables that lead professional athletes like John Amaechi, Wade Davis and Billy Bean lead double lives in sports dominated by intolerance and homophobia. (Remember <a href="http://outsports.com/jocktalkblog/2011/09/26/moment-8-john-rocker-spews-homophobia-to-sports-illustrated/">John Rocker</a>?) In 1996, sports columnist Skip Bayless <a href="http://outsports.com/jocktalkblog/2011/09/26/moment-8-john-rocker-spews-homophobia-to-sports-illustrated/">mentioned</a> that Troy Aikman might be gay&mdash;an assertion that Bayless still stands by. (The claim was backed up by years of anecdotal evidence about Aikman&rsquo;s personal life.) Aikman was so put off by the thought of someone even suggesting the possibility that he might be gay that he&rsquo;s still mad about it&mdash;almost two decades later. During a <a href="http://www.towleroad.com/2011/09/aikman.html">radio interview in 2011</a>, Aikman stated that he hasn&rsquo;t seen Bayless since his statements went public, and things might &ldquo;get physical&rdquo; if it did.</p><p>Clearly being gay in the NFL isn&rsquo;t something to be taken lightly.</p><p>I&rsquo;ve never met Manti Te&rsquo;o. I don&rsquo;t know him or anything about his personal life, but I feel like I understand him. I&rsquo;ve been him. Almost every queer person I know has been him at some point&mdash;inventing an internet girlfriend who lives in Canada, going to prom with your opposite gender best friend, asking the girl from your drama program to go steady with you&mdash;because if you have to live a lie, at least she looks like she might be fun to live it with. We know what it&rsquo;s like to date girls and be secretly &quot;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/16/anderson-cooper-dating-girls_n_2489148.html?utm_hp_ref=media">hoping to meet their brothers</a>.&quot; We know what it&#39;s like to keep your eyes open in your Southern Baptist church while everyone&rsquo;s silently praying to a God they think hates you. We know what it&#39;s like to dance to Britney Spears when you think no one&rsquo;s watching. We understand what it is to be something else because someone wants you to be&mdash;whether that&rsquo;s your family, your football team or the media.</p><p>Look at Jodie Foster. It&rsquo;s hard to come out and have people make an issue of your sexuality&mdash;when all you want to do is the thing you love. You just came to play, not to be a poster child for something.</p><p>If Manti Te&rsquo;o is gay as many allege, then we need to have as much empathy for him as we did when he pretended to have a dead internet girlfriend&mdash;even if our empathy looks like an endorsement of deception. When Te&rsquo;o was saintly and straight, the media applauded him for being courageous and playing through the emotional pain, but that struggle would be nothing compared to the one that faces him now. No offense intended to his fake dead girlfriend, but if he&rsquo;s gay, he doesn&rsquo;t just stand to lose his loved one. Manti Te&rsquo;o could lose everything. Te&rsquo;o could lose the support of family and friends. He could lose numerous endorsement deals, as sports companies who rely on a heteronormative public image might not want to see that associated with a gay football star. He could lose job offers in his future career, as NFL teams predicated on replicating success and sticking to a formula are unlikely to take a risk on making history. They care about winning championships.</p><p>When I look at Manti Te&rsquo;o, I see someone who already<em> is</em> a champion. I see someone who has played with strength and courage on the football field, who was able to be a leader when his team needed him and who helped Notre Dame do what many thought was impossible. I can only hope that real life is anything like football.</p><p><em>Nico Lang blogs about LGBTQ life in Chicago for WBEZ.org. Follow Nico on Twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/Nico_Lang" target="_hplink">@Nico_Lang</a> or on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/NicoRLang" target="_hplink">Facebook</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 18 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-01/internet-hoax-century-why-manti-teo-wont-come-out-about-truth-105018