Combating Dystopia.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Scared Straight.

Today is National Coming Out Day. I was having a conversation with a conservative frenimey of mine about how blandly unimportant being out should be, and was struck with how important it is after reading this article.

Undoubtedly, Homophobia is inherent in our culture. Its fostered from childhood on in conjunction with gender socialization and internalized by young men and women who are coming to grips with their sexual identities as they move into adulthood. Often, these men and women are met with an openly hostile world before coming out. Gay people are perverts, or deviants, weak, psychologically unsound, sick and sinful among other things. The message beamed across the airwaves and taught in families, passed around in peer groups and shouted down from pulpits is one that most members of our society get loud and clear. That its strongly discouraged if not aggressively opposed, That ridicule, intimidation and the full brunt of social stigma are tools of the dominant culture in ensuring that homosexual behavior remain as removed as possible from their perception of reality.

Homophobia is such a longstanding component of our culture (the Cold War and McCarthyism fanned the fears of the
Lavender Scare to a fever pitch) that it can be argued that it permeates nearly every aspect of it, and often the spectre of it was and is enough to keep people clinging to the status quo. People including parents, teachers and other gatekeepers to our culture.

It is an easy thing to rail against the monsters and the perverts out in the world doing what one is certain is true evil. Its an entirely harder matter to be forced to condemn your friends, children, and co-workers out of hand. That is why I'm convinced that coming out is important because it shatters the illusion that gay men and women are some invisible minority that are conveniently exorcised upon discovery. That Issac Katz comes out in the wake of his father's rather virulent screeds on homophobia may not cure Johnothan Katz of his biases, but it does serve to inform him that homosexuality isn't some vile infection that visits perfect and dispicable strangers. It is about sons and daughters, family and the idea that people are more than who they fall in love with and share their lives with; more than who they're attracted to.

Coming out is about courage and integrity in the face of misinformation and rancorous cruelty. It sends the message to both the apathetic and the vulnerable that there are more people in this world of ours that can summarily be written off as sinful- That we are more than a collection of trite stereotypes. It is about elevation and transparency, about confronting the outdated ideas of a dwindling age. It is about reaching out and destroying more hegemonic paradigms enforced from the myopic positions of our forebears, and decentering the hatred and bias misconceptions perpetuate...

But more importantly, its about
him, and him and also him and countless other kids who've been devalued and intimidated and informed they're somehow less than by peers and parents alike. Its about informing gay teens with fragile self images that it gets better, and that they've got it wrong.

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