Thursday, October 12, 2006

Letting the Homophobia Out of The Closet

by guest blogger Nadja Spiegelman

October 11th is National Coming Out Day, a day for people to proclaim loudly and proudly who they are and how it is that they identify. This year, on Yale’s campus, this has been extended beyond gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender identities for whom the day was designed. Some on this campus wish to let their homophobia out of the closet.

Along with the numerous LGBTQ co-op emails informing people about the exciting activities the co-op planned for the day, on Wednesday many Yale students woke up to find thinly veiled hate speech in their inboxes in the form of a joke email. Disguised as a letter from the co-op board, the email is signed by the National Organization to Gain Acceptance for Your Sins (NO GAYS). It urges people to “come out” as male chauvinists, Nazis, or racists. “Are you a homophobe?” the e-mail asks, “So was JESUS.” The letter ends with “There’s no shame in being who you are. Just remember, admitting it doesn’t make it right.”

How hard it must have been to keep these vehement and hateful feelings under wraps for so long. On a liberal college campus, the life of the bigot must be a difficult one. In an environment where queer students who come from repressive communities or un-accepting homes are finally able to be themselves without fear of being ostracized, reproached, or victimized by hate crimes, the latent homophobes among us must be livid.

On Yale’s campus there is little queer political action. There are the valiant and heroic efforts of QPAC (the Queer Political Action Committee), and there is the LGBTQ co-op, newly invigorated under Anna Wipfler’s (BR ’09) leadership – but mostly, in the gay community, there are parties, drinking, and hook-ups. In part, this is due to the fact that, up until now, most of the homophobia present has been subtle – acts that, while hurtful, are easy to ignore and difficult to protest (the pandemic use of “that’s so gay,” and the general separation between the heterosexual and gay male community being but two examples). An email signed by NOGAYS on the other hand, is everything but subtle. If everyone who received this was even one tenth as outraged as I was, then this is a very effective call to arms.

I must admit – this is refreshing. Someone is finally taking a stand. And, even though you are hiding behind a hidden email address and anonymously posted flyers, mystery sender, we will find out who you are and confront you directly. Please do not think for a moment that your cry for help has been ignored. Whoever you are, I hope to shake your hand in front of Excom.

Let me now address all the other homophobes still languishing in the closet: show yourselves. Lets confront this issue head-on. If, in this day and age, you are still misguided enough to truly think homosexuality is wrong, then let us show you otherwise. Come to our co-op meetings. Come see the faces of the people you are condemning. Come see our struggles, our bravery, and our strength. If you hate us for religious reasons, come talk to those among us who are religious and learn about the incredible hurdles they’ve overcome. If you hate us because you are ignorant, come educate yourselves. We are people and we are good people. Stop hating us in silence or from behind hidden email addresses. Come talk to us. You’ll be surprised.


Jim Stanley said...

Well said. I received that email and saw the posters this morning and was absolutely stunned. If it was meant as a joke, it was perhaps in the poorest taste I've ever seen. I can appreciate a joke about our differences (i.e. the recent Rumpus and Record articles that I have absolutely no problem with and think are hilarious), but that was so ridiculously offensive. Of course, what's scary is that it was probably sent in dead seriousness. The fact that whoever sent it did so anonymously just underscores the fact that it was wrong and they knew it. If only they had the stones to "come out" as the bigots they are. I can only hope that they're not Yale students.

Adda said...

Its interesting to me that your bring up The Record and Rumpus articles, because I think that this event gives us a good case study to compare those events to. Like both the Rumpus and The Record, the posters were written in a sort of comedic tone, and yet we all register them as being TOTALLY offensive, whereas the reaction to the Record and the Rumpus was much more mixed.

I definitely agree that there are very specific, important qualitative differences, but I still wonder why everyone seems unitedly up in arms on this one.

nadja said...

interesting. here's what i think:
1) the rumpus/record articles were written with the intent of being funny, and were offensive only as an accidental byproduct of that, whereas this was clearly intended to be hurtful (nogays? come on...) and was disguised as humorous.
2) the record and the rumpus are humor magazines, and the general trend in todays humor (see southpark, vice magazine, etc.) is to be un-pc. This was different. This was a well-thought through and well organized homophobic attack on an event thats supposed to be about acceptance.

Anonymous said...

plus, people proudly take credit for herald and rumpus jokes -- whereas whoever made these posters KNEW that they were more offensive, less funny, and didn't sign their names...

Stephanie said...

A big problem is that many progressives are approaching the issue as if homophobia is only a fringe - when in reality a significant part of the mainstream is still uncomfy with homosexuality - you only have to look at those American states where you can be legally fired or otherwise discriminated against for your sexuality - and those states where anti-gay marriage ballots are winning - to understand that. There needs to be a changed approach or things will continue to be this way.

Anonymous said...

Good for you, Nadja Spiegelman. You speak the truth!