S/he said: Latinos, Chinatown and the Oscars

By |2010-03-11T09:00:00-05:00March 11th, 2010|Opinions|

Compiled by Howard Israel

“Among Latinos, homosexuality is understood as a problem with your gender, and there is a lot of shame connected with that. The Latino culture is obsessed with the question, ‘Are you a man or a woman?’ Some gay Latinos are told they are failures as men or women. Some families say their disapproval is based on wanting to protect their children from growing up alone, being harassed or contracting HIV. There is some recent acceptance in Latin America: Mexico City legalized same-sex marriage in December; Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador allow civil unions. But prejudice remains high, with several generations caught in between. Many gay Latinos feel they must leave home, but that’s a ‘geographic pseudo-cure.’ Some Latinos come to the U.S. in order to find a more acceptable way to live their homosexuality. But those who have not received the family blessing remain conflicted. It creates a split because family is very important in the Latino community.”
– Rafael M. Diaz, professor, Cesar Chavez Institute at San Francisco State University, in an article titled “Often shunned by family, Oregon’s gay Latinos fight for respect,” about the struggles of LGBT Latinos, http://www.oregonlive.com, Jan. 16.

“Armies have to care about what succeeds in war. Unit cohesion is one such idea. We know, or ought to, that warriors are inspired by male bonding, by comradeship, by the knowledge that they survive only through relying on each other. To undermine cohesion is to endanger everyone. I know some will see these ingredients of the military lifestyle as a sort of absurd, tough-guy game played by overgrown boys. But to prepare warriors for a life of hardship, the military must remain a kind of adventure, apart from the civilian world and full of strange customs. To be a fighter pilot or a paratrooper or a submariner is to join a self-contained, resolutely idealistic society, largely unnoticed and surprisingly uncorrupted by the world at large. I do not see how permitting open homosexuality in these communities enhances their prospects of success in battle.”
– Merrill A. McPeak, former U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff 1990-1994, retired, in a column titled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Change,” arguing that homosexuals serving in uniform should stay closeted http://www.nytimes.com, March 5. In the 1990s McPeak argued against allowing women into the military.

“When I went looking for anywhere in the Bible where Jesus says anything – and I mean anything – about homosexuality, I learned that Jesus spent about as much time talking about gays and/or lesbians as I spend talking about button collecting and/or sea horses: none. Of course, it’s entirely possible that Jesus did say crucial things about homosexuality, but that when he did (curse the luck!) no one around him just then happened to have handy an ostrich feather, sappy stick, or whatever it was they used for pens back then. So I’ll attend my gay friends’ weddings, and I’ll do so in the exact same spirit I’d expect them to attend a similar function of mine. And if it happens that in the course of either of their weddings or receptions I find myself wondering if I’m doing the right thing, I’ll be sure to remember the first miracle of Jesus’ recorded in the Bible. It’s when he turned water into wine. At a wedding.”
– John Shore, in a column titled “What Would Jesus Do If Invited to a Gay Wedding?,” http://www.huffingtonpost.com, Feb. 28.

“I wonder whether Weir’s coyness, though, gives license for people to mock him with homophobic slurs. If Weir said publicly, ‘I am gay,’ then any media person who called him a ‘queen’ or mocked his costumes or manner would get immediate attention from GLAAD and other gay rights groups; he’d be officially one of us. People would be calling for public apologies and demanding action. And I bet a lot of these same media people would think twice about mocking a publicly gay man, fearing accusations of homophobia. But since Weir is not publicly gay, everything he does or says is fair game, since he might be an effeminate straight guy (and no one ever cries heterophobia). If Weir came out using the mainstream media’s standard, he would no longer give people the cover of saying they’re just speculating as a means to mock and deride him. They would be held more accountable by a wider range of people.”
– Jim Buzinski, in his column titled “Is Weir’s gay coyness fueling homophobia?,” about champion men’s figure skater Johnny Weir and the anti-gay comments made about him, http://outsports.com, Feb. 18.

“I still had to wonder whether the Dead-Homo Thing is simply a reliable tragic theme, or some vestigial holdover of internalized homophobia. Or maybe not so internalized. As we all know, the LGBT movement gained a foothold in mainstream America during the height of the AIDS crisis, when the stereotype of the homosexual man went from ‘predatory, mincing child molester in leather chaps’ to ‘pathetic shell of a man covered in lesions.’ Yes, we were officially Ennobled By Suffering. And while it’s better to be seen as a martyr than a monster, I can’t help but wonder whether some of our borderline friends are now a little miffed because some of us not only had the temerity to survive, but now refuse to shut up.”
– Simon Sheppard, in his blog titled “And the Dead-Homo Award Goes To…,: about the Oscars, wondering why so many good films still feature so many dead gay men,” http://carnalnation.com, March 1.

“They were there to educate the Chinese and wider Asian Pacific Islander communities that we are their daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, mothers and fathers. That there is no losing ‘face’ in acknowledging – and even being proud of – a queer family member. That we can be fully ourselves while fulfilling our responsibilities to the family and the community. Their participation in the parade shows recent immigrants and those who cling to old ideas that we live in a democratic and pluralistic country where all are equal and where there is separation of church and state. Their presence gave hope to closeted and recently arrived Asian newcomers. They empowered and they were empowered. Hats off to the courageous women and men who grabbed the tiger by the tail, came out loud and proud as LGBT and Asian, and challenged conservative Asian Pacific Islander communities to reconsider their antiquated ideas about us and our families. Thank goodness for the freedoms we have in this country. Freedoms that many immigrants did not have in their native countries and now enjoy. Freedoms which are ours as well – a reality which they have to accept and respect.”
– Erwin de Leon, in his column titled “Grabbing the tiger’s tail,” about the 300-strong contingent of queer Asian Pacific Islanders who participated in NYC’s Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade in the Year of the Tiger, http://www.dcagenda.com, Feb. 22.

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Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.