Neoliberalism and Homonormativity: Spoken Word

So after turning in my paper and still having all of this energy, I thought I’d share this awesome video that I came across. It is a spoken word piece that someone shared on tumblr and I thought looked interesting. They cover topics about SF’s Pride parade and the companies that sponsored it as well as why they shared an interest in an event such as pride.

I think that the video pretty much speaks for itself. I’d love to hear some feedback to see what y’all think!

Happy Finals Week, and I wish you all good luck. Sending positive vibes!

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Neoliberalism and Homonormativity: Spoken Word

Homonormativity From a Different Perspective

So I came across this video in my research on homonormativity for my research paper and I thought it was a pretty interesting perspective and description of what homonormativity and heteronormativity are from the perspective of a gay man and two lesbian moms.

They have some differing points of view while also having some similar ones. They question why homonormativity is seen as “threatening the queer movement”. One of the women sees homonormativity as taking baby steps in a way because it introduces the normalization of a gay lifestyle which could eventually lead to normalization of other “alternate” lifestyles to heterosexuality and cisgenderism.

The man, on the other hand, agrees with how homonormativity is threatening the queer movement because it is normalizing only ONE type of gay lifestyle, while not including trans people, people living with HIV, homeless queer youth, etc. It sets limits, boundaries, and rules to how to live a “normal” gay lifestyle. He mentions that it portrays “comfort” which I thought was important because it is true. People are only accepting of what is “comfortable” to them most of the time. If something, someone, or a group of people threaten the comfort levels of others, then they encounter the obstacle of having to acquire acceptance rather than gaining it at first glance.

A lot of good points were made here as well as a lot of points that are up to debate and analysis. I’d love to hear what others think of this!

Homonormativity From a Different Perspective

Summary: Surveillance & Society by Toby Beauchamp

After 9/11 Homeland Security imposed strict laws of how people identified themselves. The “Real ID Act” was passed in 2003 and it forced strict rules about “true” identity and documentation that needed to be provided in order to support that “true” identity for travel within and outside U.S. borders. This meant that trans people, as well as those who were gender non-conforming, were at risk for increased levels of unnecessary questioning, embarrassment, and trouble.

Beauchamp discusses the ways in which health and mental care professionals had criteria that they followed in regards to measuring the level of their patient’s “true transexualism” in order to properly diagnose them with “Gender Identity Disorder”. Only if they were a “true transsexual” would they be diagnosed and allowed to start transition with hormones and/or surgeries. Beauchamp argues that diagnosing trans people with “gender identity disorder” turns transgender identity into something that can be cured and therefore non-existent when “cured”. The argued true purpose of “treating” trans people was to lead these non-normative bodies back into normative society, and therefore erase all traces of transgender identities. I found this quote to be too powerful not to include: “Concealing gender deviance is about much more than simply erasing transgender status. It also necessitates altering one’s gender presentation to conform to white, middle class, able-bodied, heterosexual understandings of normative gendering.” (Beauchamp 357). Beauchamp continues on talking about transgender representation in the media. It is mentioned how trans identity is seen as a sort of game where people play by trying to guess the “real” gender of a trans-identified individual. Another mentioned theme of transgender identity portrayed in the media is that the majority of reasons why harm comes to trans-identified people is because they hide their identity and their “lovers” are only reacting to the “shock”.

Next, the concept of “going stealth” is mentioned as something that trans-identified people do in order to avoid as much of the burdens as possible. Next came the “no-match” policies which referred to employers receiving letters stating there was no match for the identities they referred to in their systems because the potential employee was “going stealth” and could not attain their preferred gender identity in the proper documentation; something that was intensified after 9/11. Beauchamp argues that after 9/11, security basically had a good excuse to crack down on trans and gender non-conforming bodies being that they were justified under the “real ID act” and the terrorism threats.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  • Discuss the similarities between people who choose not to conform to religious, socioeconomic, or racial norms and those who identify as transgender. Is there more of a stigma on transgender and gender non-conforming identities than there is for racial, socioeconomic, or religious non-conforming identities? Why or why not?
  • How did the Real ID act transform trans identity in political and personal aspects?
  • Even with terrorism being prevalent during the time of implementation of the PATRIOT act and the Real ID act, how did the U.S. overstep its boundaries in regards to privacy rights? Can you think of other examples of how this is seen today?
  • Can you think of any other “Diseases” or “Disorders” that are being treated or diagnosed that are just simply ways in which people identify or are born? Where is the line drawn in regards to when something that is not normal is classified as “diseased”, or in need of a “cure”?
Summary: Surveillance & Society by Toby Beauchamp

Midterm: Queer As Folk(s Would Like You to Think)

Queer As Folk, the North American version, is a TV show that encompasses both positive and negative messages to it’s viewers. Similar to the L Word, it is a show that tried to convey what a gay lifestyle was during the time that it was on air, but it was from the point of view of gay men and the people in their lives. The show made a decent attempt at trying to portray the various different ways a gay man could live his life, as well as the different obstacles gay men faced and were burdened with. The downfalls of this show are the same downfalls that plague most media outlets: although the show presented a few forms of the “gay lifestyle” alongside showcasing many of the obstacles that are attached to such lifestyle, it did so by neglecting people of color and people of lower socioeconomic status, which make up a large portion of the LGBTQIA community, as well as reinforcing gay stereotypes and societal norms.

The first time I watched this show, I was celebrating the end of finals for fall quarter and I needed a show to binge watch while eating my favorite snacks. It was recommended to me being that I had already finished watching the L Word. Right from the start, I had a feeling that the show was going to have a very sexualized perspective on gay men simply because the intro was male go-go dancers dancing sensually half naked.

After watching the show, and thinking about things the way I do now, I realized that there was something very important missing: where were the black or latino gay men? where were the lower class men who were not only struggling with their sexuality but with their status? 

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The show centered around a rich 30 year old white man who identified as gay and brought home a different “trick” every night. He prided himself on his “heterophobic” mentality and his 17 year old “boyfriend”. His friends, all gay men with the exception of a lesbian couple, were all caucasian and middle class. So while the show was “groundbreaking for the gay community”, it was also exclusive of all lower class gay people of color. With the opportunity and means to draw attention to overlooked issues such as poverty trends in the LGBTQIA community, writer Russell T. Davies (who is gay himself) passed over the opportunity to bring real issues and real characters to life on the big screen and to draw attention to communities left in the dark. The characters that Davies wrote about all fell into some sort of stereotypical mold of “the gay man”. Rich, powerful, sexy, and promiscuous; your average joe with a steady well-paying job who wanted to be loved; the 17 year old boy curious to explore his sexuality; the “Queen” with a heightened sense for fashion, emotions, and so-called femininity; and the fit, athletic professor who could pass for straight. In every episode, the group of friends went to Liberty Avenue, which was the gay friendly street, and went to gay bars and nightclubs where they would “cruise” men looking for someone to take home for the night. Each character was the patriarchal stereotypical character, and while trying to gain exposure for the gay community, they had to do so while still falling under patriarchal societal norms such as whiteness and superior class, and the notion that the gay lifestyle was all fun, lights, parties, promiscuity, and that money could buy you everything.

In comparison to the discussion of “Paris is Burning”, and the questions of whether having a gay writer excuses the lack of correctness or exposure, or if having gay writers or creators gives authenticity to the characters regardless of the sexuality of the actors portraying such characters, I would say that it does no such thing. Having experience in life as a latina does not give me rights to talk about life as a black man simply because we share “minority” status. The same goes for “Queer as Folk”. Just because the main writer and creator were gay doesn’t give them the right, nor the insight or experience, to speak of or portray something that is supposed to generalize to all gay men.

While the show was a step in the right direction, as far as getting media coverage for gay men and women goes, it did not do the gay community justice. Instead of conveying to the audience that being gay changes nothing about a person other than who they choose to spend their lives with, or shattering the stereotypes, they REINFORCED the stereotypes of gay men as well as women. They went with the grain of societal expectations of the gay community and even went as far as making it out to be an extravagant lifestyle. The exclusion of people of color and people of a lower socioeconomic status undercut the possibility of showing genuine struggle and sharing genuine stories. You can’t help but wonder why such important groups and stories would be purposefully left out, and the answer is simple: because the truth, especially a harsh truth, doesn’t make for good entertainment.

Links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_T_Davies

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVjkNdxix1g

https://www.youtube.com/channel/SWAcp06iIjl6U

Midterm: Queer As Folk(s Would Like You to Think)