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You’re here, you’re queer- OK, just shut up about it

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A recent Gallup opinion poll of American attitudes toward homosexuals seems to show something of a backlash against gays. Asked whether same-sex relations between adults should be legal in July 2003 only 48% said yes vs 46% no. This compares to 60% yes vs 35% no as recently as May. These represent the highest negative numbers in almost a decade.

Of course, they come in the wake of the recent ruling in which the US Supreme Court unilaterally did away with all sodomy laws, and in the midst of talk that the Massachusetts supreme court will soon basically take it on themselves to force gay marriage on the whole nation.

Take these poll numbers with some grain of salt. I find it unlikely that anything near half of the public would in fact support sending people to jail for homosexual acts. I would certainly HOPE not, at least. I would take these numbers more just as a sign of irritation.

Some of this negative backlash comes from homosexuals being too damned pushy. Sure, beating up homosexuals or just being mean is hateful and wrong. Live and let live. Most everyone would agree with that. But many homosexual advocates won’t accept simple tolerance. Any hint of criticism or disagreement will likely get your roundly denounced.

The obvious current example of this is gay marriage. Now, there are perfectly legitimate issues about wanting common legal protections for inheritance and making medical decisions, etc. To that end, even many social conservatives are willing to endorse some sort of civil union giving equivalent legal rights to homosexual couples. They just don’t want to call it “marriage.” It’s not really the same thing in their understandable if debatable opinion.

Yeah, well they’re HOMOPHOBES for saying that. They’re stupid and evil. Gay advocates start up with the specious “separate but equal” analogy, insisting that this position is equivalent to Jim Crow.

See, homosexuals could get tolerance and a reasonable attempt at equal legal protection, but that won’t do. Tolerance isn’t good enough, only complete moral and social endorsement will do.

I suspect that many Americans WANT to be tolerant of gays, they just don’t want to have homosexuals stuck up their ass. “Gay Pride Parade Sets Mainstream Acceptance of Gays Back 50 Years” That was a typically prescient Onion headline two years ago.

One such example mentioned in nearly every news story about this recent poll was Will and Grace. This jumped out at me, as an episode of this half-assed sitcom got up under my skin a couple of months ago.

Jack (the really, really gay guy) had been flirting with some older guy. Then he got the idea from somewhere that this stranger might in fact be the father that he never knew- something about wearing a Nixon mask and humping Watergate era strangers.

Already, YUCK. Then the nasty… {mustn’t use any of the natural, obvious words or ol’ Al will be the bad guy} bastard sloughs it off when confronted with the possibility that this guy he’s hitting on might be his SON. Hey, apparently there were a lot of people wearing Nixon masks and humping strangers at the time. No need to let a little thing like that slow down the fun.

For starters, this was all treated as light comedy. It’s no big deal if Jack manages to catch it up the ass from dad. Shit happens. Pretty funny, really.

Or to put it differently, that’s just nasty and offensive. Like the fictional gay pride parade in the Onion, this just gives truth to every worst idea anybody might have about homosexuals being depraved.

Leave homosexual issues per se out of it for a minute. No version of this would be likely to play out in a pleasing manner. It wouldn’t be much better if it was a mother hitting on a long lost son, or a father hitting on his daughter. YUCK.

But of course, no straight oriented show would be likely to go there. It’s a queer thing, apparently.

Worse yet, this show was on our local broadcast channel 4, a WB affiliate, in the 7 pm hour when lots of children will inevitably be watching. The gay soft porn of the yucky Queer as Folk is on a premium cable channel, and in late hours. That’s easy enough to just ignore. Will and Grace, on the other hand, is right there in your face.

OK, got it. You’re here, you’re queer, just shut up about it.

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  • Doc

    Seen an not heard? Yes, massa. You str8 folks sure are special. We’re not your retarded cousin kept locked in the attic as a family embarassment.

    Considering that interacial marriage is *nearly* as unpopular (and in the 70’s was MORE so than the number now), I don’t give a crap what you or anyone else thinks about me or my husband. But the law is a different. I’d like to move up to second class citizen. And that’s why I’m moving away from the US, giving up my US citizenship, and loving every minute of it.

  • What if it were your child who wanted to be allowed to marry the person of their choice? Would you simply encourage then to just be happy with what they have and not rock the boat? Not to make waves? Would you tell your child that marriage is just for the privileged?

  • Al,

    There are plenty of other shows on TV that push heterosexual mores on the public, so what’s the problem with having a couple of shows which contain drama and/or comedy about homosexuals?

    Your attitude of “shut up about it” proves that there’s a long way yet to go on the issue in the USA. For example, did you know that hate crime against gays and lesbians doubled in the USA between 1992 and 2002? You want gay people to be quiet about their sexuality as if there is something inherently wrong with it. There isn’t. They are as perfectly entitled to be open about their life as a heterosexual person. If you don’t like it then you can avoid the shows where it’s shown.

    Personally, I find the depictions of homosexuals to still languish in the doldrums of stereotype on mainstream TV. It’s all screaming queers and uber-camp gays – something which TV audiences seem to accept. There is a huge range of homosexual lifestyles but most TV shows and movies like to corral them into the safe option of the flaming gay comedic sidekick. (I’m not denying that camp gays exist, merely that they’re not the be-all and end-all of gay culture) I suppose it’s good that they are represented somewhere, even if at the moment it’s in a rather cheesy way. I do think that “Six Feet Under” is going some way to show another aspect of gay culture.

  • Oh, and on the marriage issue, I cannot fathom why gay people are barred from being married.

    Personally I don’t even like the institution of marriage, but realise the useful things that come with it such as the legal issues regarding inheritance, tax, pensions rights, hospital visitation rights, etc. Other people view it in a spiritual/religious ritual and want the right to be married because that just what they want. I can’t see any reason to deny them that right. Most arguments against it appear to be based on an ingrained prejudice that is based on spurious notions inherited from Christian dogma formalised several thousand years ago.

    If people love each other, what’s the problem? That’s something to be celebrated in this world.

  • can we complain about how horrible it is to faced with the specter of hetersexuality day in and day out, against our will? if we have to put up with the likes of you, then turnabout is fair play. we don’t want homosupremacy, merely equality. it’s sad so many hets insist on being top dog and having the rest supplicate themselves to you. not happenin’, pal.

  • This issue is a winner for Democrats in 2004, if they spin it the right way.

    Democratic nominee Howard Dean simply needs to frame fundamentalist zealot George W. Bush as “anti-hospital visitation.” Over and over and over. Dean is not “pro-gay-marriage”–the law he signed was for limited “civil unions”.

    But many people think “civil union” is a code word for “marriage.” It’s not. It’s a code word for “hospital visitation.” Why is George W. Bush opposed to giving gays the right to visit their partners in the hospital?

    Polls show that huge majorities are in favor of giving that right (as well as inheritance and others) to gays. It’s always a matter of how the question is raised. “Gay marriage” scares people into thinking (vaguely) that their church will be forced to host gay marriage ceremonies.

    But the issue, really, is “hospital visitation.” Is George W. Bush so committed to his extremist Christian ideology that he would deny Mary Cheney the right to visit her partner in the hospital?

    This forces Bush into a corner. If he stands firm on his anti-hospital-visitation position, he looks evil. If he allows that homos should be able to visit their partners in the hospital, well, welcome to the slippery slope toward a real debate about the rights in question.

  • I can’t believe it’s 2003 and we’re still arguing about gay people’s rights. Or rights of anyone, for that matter. I just don’t understand how anyone cares that much about someone’s race or sexual preference when they can’t even be bothered to care about the welfare of their own neighbors. People die because the neighbors didn’t want to “get involved,” but oh! oh! someone who’s gay wants to get married! We can’t have that! Neighbors can beat each other or abuse their kids under my nose, but when it comes to some unknown-to-me gay person, you better bet I’m going to get involved if they’re talking about getting married. Because that is just so wrong.

    Ludicrous. Let people be happy together, regardless of the sex they choose to be happy with. I’ve got more important things to worry about than gay marriage. Everyone else should, too.

  • What if it was your child…

    If a child in my family turned out gay, they’d probably be real glad of having me at their back.

    I would demand basic TOLERANCE for them. That’s the main thing. No screwing with my people, or you’re asking for Uncle Al’s boot in your ass. No harassment or intimidation is acceptable.

    I would not expect the government to specifically sanction a gay “marriage.” If I had a nephew with a boyfriend wanting to have some kind of religious ceremony, there are numerous churches that would do that.

    It WOULD be nice, though not totally critical, if there was some type of contractual civil union to help keep the property and such things straight. However, official government recognition of the sanctity of the the relationship would be the least of my concerns. Hospital visitation would not be an issue, as no one in MY family would be so asinine as denying a loved one visitation.

    Governor Flemming seems to regard Dubya as hostile to gays, which he is not. Maybe I’m missing something, but I doubt he would be opposed to some legal recognition of civil unions, as long as it didn’t involve absolutely calling it “marriage.” This is a big point for many religious people, and a reasonable point for compromise. It’s reasonable to expect the freedom to live your life unmolested, with equal protection under the law. It is not reasonable to demand that everyone sanction your lifestyle.

    Yet none of you has acknowledged any legitimacy at all to anybody else’s legitimate concerns. Are none of you put off by the decadence of Will and Grace or Queer as Folk? Do you not see how such things reflect badly on the gay community?

    I would expect basic tolerance for a gay relative, and encourage pride in their whole being, not merely their sexual preference.

    On the other hand, I would also expect some respectfulness and pride in their decorum. If I found a nephew in a gay pride parade doing something half as stupid as the stuff in the Onion parody, I’d grab him by the ear and drag him right off the grounds my damned self.

    I’d tell him that this kind of nasty display does not constitute any showing of pride, but rather of SHAME. A truly PROUD gay person would not be making such a public ass of themselves. It reflects badly on them, their family, and other gay people.

    As to Natalie’s complaint, I wouldn’t be much more happy about a similar display from a heterosexual relative, though I’m hard pressed to imagine what would be equivalent. I’ll just say it wouldn’t do for me to find out a niece was in a Girls Gone Wild video.

    I would not for a second expect gays to act ashamed, or stay closeted. I would like for them to show some basic pride. If you want to be respected, then you need to act in a respectful manner.

  • mike

    AlBot: I do believe you’re projecting. Let’s re-write one of your paragraphs from the “gay” perspective:

    “Some of this negative backlash comes from heterosexuals being too damned pushy. Sure, beating up heterosexuals or just being mean is hateful and wrong. Live and let live. Most everyone would agree with that. But many heterosexual advocates won’t accept simple tolerance. Any hint of criticism or disagreement will likely get you roundly denounced.”

  • Dew

    “But of course, no straight oriented show would be likely to go there. It’s a queer thing, apparently.”

    Have we missed ever soap opera of the 20th and 21st centuries?

    “The gay soft porn of the yucky Queer as Folk is on a premium cable channel, and in late hours”

    Queer as Folk is younky but Sex and the city is tasteful.

    I’m no advocate of gays just people and I think their plight is a valid one, so let them have it.

  • Dew- Good point. Actually, I have no use for the Sex in the City show, though it does have the minimal virtue of being a cable thing. My minimal viewership of the show suggests that they’re just dumb, boring sluts who think they’re much cooler and more sophisticated than they are.

    Even better point about the daytime soaps. God, but those things are awful. The whole tone of those things is awful, the faithlessness and shallow type of romantic fickleness, much more than specifically any sexual content. I’ve long said that people would be better off watching porno than soaps.

    Whatever “they” wants Queer as Folk or The Young and the Restless can have them. They have every right to put out their shows- but why would they want them?

  • Mike- Not at all. Heterosexuals are not out of bounds for criticism. Boorish behavior by straights is perfectly well open to criticism. The Man Show, for example, might be criticized on numerous grounds. It doesn’t particularly bother me, but it’s certainly fair game. No one would say otherwise. Some may agree or disagree with the the particular criticism, but no one would be upset simply that the show gets criticized.

  • I know what the problem is: YOU’RE WATCHING TOO MUCH G-D TEEVEE!!!!

    Stop watching teevee and all the problems will go away.

    And give me the GeeDee clicker box!

    You do realize you are worrying about opinion polls and imaginary people?

    What’s next? The elves stole your underpants?

  • By the way Al, stop watching CBS while you’re at it, because they’ve declared: “We’re Really, Really Gay!“.

    And what’s up with Shrub using “Fab-u-lous” in press conferences? What with the stuffed crotch and saying hello to sailors, I’m starting to have my doubts.

    But then John Wayne was gay.

    Miller: John Wayne was a fag.
    All: The hell he was!
    Miller: He was, too, you boys. I installed two-way mirrors in his pad in Brentwood, and he come to the door in a dress.

  • At 17:44 -0500 8/1/03, al barger wrote:
    Do ya think I’d have a chance with Dubya? He was looking pretty cute in
    that flight outfit.

    Sorry, but like smoking dope and being a lesbian, you gotta chalk that down to college experimentation, and being privileged to the rituals of Yale secret societies and frat houses (how much more gay can you get than a frat house?).

    So, I guess your opportunity is passed.

    But you could try to go gay in your own living room, just get some stylish clothes, some facial cleanser, and tell Oprah, “you go girl”, or something.

    I’ll leave that up to you. You could perhaps pitch the networks for a “Gay At Home” board game for their shows. (If you do, I want 15 per cent commission). It should have “fabulous” prizes.

  • Jim, critiquing media is what we do here.

    Note that my objections to these shows are not that they have gay characters, but that they have poor characters both in dramatic and value terms.

    For a counter example with gay characters worthy of interest and even praise, check out The Shield. Officer Julien Lowe is a real 3D dramatic character, conflicted between his homosexual proclivities vs his Christian religion. The boyfriend Tomas also made a strong impression.

    Julien’s internal emotional issues and vulnerability and his relationship with Tomas and beyond are quite fascinating. They even have some relatively explicit sexual content which I find totally convincing and appropriate.

    This would be just one more good reason to buy the DVDs of the first season. Go ahead, do it.

  • I don’t have cable (or access to the cabel), but if you want to send me the DVD’s, I’ll get all over that.

    How ’bout I set up an Amazon wish list, and you fill it, big boy?

  • Um….. I think gays will shut up when they are finally given the same benefits and protections from the government as every other American receives.

  • Dew

    “Whatever “they” want Queer as Folk or The Young and the Restless can have them. They have every right to put out their shows- but why would they want them?”

    First off I’ll assume the quotative they has some type of referential implication but its early and I’m slow so I’ll move on to the next point. (D’oh)

    To answer your question, who cares why they want them. I’m not sure why the Wayne Brady show was nominated for an award, why playboy still sales, why Krystal’s has a salad, why J.lo and Ben think they’re fooling anybody, why The National Enquirer is still one of the best selling magazines yet everyone claims to hate the tabloids, why Bigger longer and uncut wasn’t nominated for at least a musical Compisition Oscar, or why Oprah has a cult like following. But its not for me to know or understand. Everyone deserves their own freedom of release, expression and entertainment even if its something I do not agree with. Luckily I have a remote and radio with an off button and a field of vision that says I can looks else where. Yay!!

  • Yes Dew, everyone has freedom of expression. That’s a big part of our pluralistic society.

    Another part of that same pluralistic free expression is critiquing those expressions, which is what we do here at Blogcritics. Consider it a dialoguing process.

    Most tv shows, movies, etc don’t particularly interest me. Wayne Brady, for example, means nothing to me one way or another. Jerry Springer’s show is distasteful to me, but very obvious in it’s lowness, and not interesting at all.

    Some products get my attention by actually being good. I can (and sometimes do) go on all day about The Shield, for example.

    Some other products get my attention for other reasons. Will and Grace, for example, makes a good taking off point for getting at some broader cultural issues, as per this original post.

    I don’t question their right to make the show, but I would like for someone to tell me how I’m looking at this wrong. How is this something appropriate for broadcast tv in prime time and even afternoon syndication to be viewed by young children? Why would even adults not be seriously put off by the incest theme in this episode?

  • Bachfan23

    I will always take issue with two words used often in the struggle of any subjugated section of the population: Respect and Tolerance. Used in context, I *respect* my friends? opinions, even though I may not agree with them. I tolerate a headache when I need to continue to do my job at work.

    What gay men and women are asking for in this country is neither respect nor tolerance. They are asking that they are treated equally under the letter of the law. Whether the majority of the nation respects that or not is of no matter. It?s the law. Just like a bigot may not ?respect? the laws that allow companies and institutions to use affirmative action regulations in their hiring practices, those institutions have every right to follow the law.

    And your reasoning that discrimination is expected because of some situational TV shows or ludicrous anecdotes about flaunting sexuality or incest is ridiculous. I once sat next to a straight man who told me he ?banged over 100 women.? Should I then think, in my obvious lack of sexual experience comparedly, that all straight men do not respect women, and therefore should not be allowed to marry?

    Mere ?tolerance? of gay men and women is insulting. To ask for tolerance is not enough; can you imagine Dr. Martin Luther King Jr asking that we ?tolerate? African-Americans in this country in the 1960s?

    I tolerate the laws that currently prevent me from marrying someone of my choice, but I will not sit idly by while the government sanctions discrimination in any form. Your article, though well-written, is not well-thought out. Go to a predominantly gay district and you will find men and women who are just like you, with ideas and dreams and children and family and issues. And yes, some of them have sex occasionally. Some more often than not. It?s not that much different than any other urban community where many single people live.

  • Chris

    Gay people deserve the same rights as anyone else. Alot of the issues straigt people have are due to the streotyped gays they seen on TV and in movies.

  • Leslie

    Intolerance, gay marriage, social endorsement, they’re all topics that people could argue over for hours. Your opinion is as valid as the next person’s, and I’m fine with you expressing it. But don’t diss Queer as Folk. Don’t you ever, EVER , diss Queer as Folk. It can’t be ignored no matter what time it’s on. It’s a freakin ART FORM. Appreciate it

  • matt

    Very entertaining and well written.

    I went to a gay pride thing on canal street in Manchester, I was in town so thoughtr I may as well have a look.

    There was a gay police officer handing out lolipops on the way in, OK I thought not too ropey.

    In I went, the thing is, in polite society especvially when there are kids about, it isn’t really good to have people in pvc costumes, people on dog leads or dildos on display. This is in the day time, I wasn’t too bothered but I don’t really care about anything, I can still see how they aren’t doing thereself any favours with the majority of people. They should definitely be more like Will than Jack, rather than being “a gay man” they should just be a man who sleeps with men, it’s the same as the difference between an “overly macho straight homophobe”, and a man who sleep with women.

  • gayprideapaloozainyourface 247

    I’m not a fan of gays and I will say it to their face without shame. You want rights? Well I have my right to an opinion and I have my right to not like you for any reason or be forced to like you because of laws. So remember gays, those that you demean who speak out against you have rights too you know.