Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Ultimate Big Deal

Here's the article written by Jason Collins, the active NBA player who has come out of the clozz.

There are two types of homophobes. The ones who are out in the open about their hatred, and the ironically named "closeted" homophobes. This second category has come out with muffled engines roaring, saying how "this shouldn't be a big deal."

First, let's not get that confused with someone like me saying it shouldn't be a big deal. When I say it, it means that I think it's ridiculous that society has pressured people to have to hide who they are in the first place. A utopian version of America would have nobody afraid to be who they are, and nobody judging anybody else based on it, with equal rights for all. But as it is now--as Martina Navratilova said, "We don’t want it to be a big deal, but it is, because we don’t have equal rights."

But when the closeted homophobes spring the "not a big deal" line, they mean something entirely different. They're basically saying, "I don't want to hear about your super-gay gayness, keep it away from me and my wholesome family. And my other wholesome family in Cleveland that they don't know about."

This is the same kind of bigotry we heard when that Boston sports journalist came out. The preposterous notion that an oppressed person simply saying who they are somehow oppresses his oppressors.

A few weeks ago, when there was news that there might be a few NFL players coming out as gay, WFAN's Mike Francessa took a call that went like this:

"Mike, this is ridiculous, society is going down the tubes. I mean, if I saw a gay guy, I would treat him with respect, but I don't wanna hear about this stuff. It's always shoved in our faces, people should keep their private lives private."

At this point, I was hoping Mike would come back with, "folks, I let this call go through so you could hear an example of what kind of backwards attitudes still exist about gay people in 2013." The caller was practically writing an All in the Family episode right there on the air, and I thought Mike was gonna jump all over him. I was wrong.

Mike came back with his Mr. Casual routine, saying, "I can see that." To me, not ripping into a caller like that is tantamount to agreeing with him. Any time the subject comes up, Mike will give it the passing "I don't know why it's a big deal" comment. But again, he doesn't mean it how I mean it. He means that is shouldn't be news, and that "we" don't care about the struggles that gay people have, and that maybe if they'd just stop being so damn gay, they wouldn't have to worry about coming out of the closet.

So next time someone gives you the "not a big deal" line, tell them why this IS a big deal. Especially if you're talking with a sports fan, who should damn well know better. Society has a problem. People are afraid to just be who they are, and it's not their fault. We can solve this problem. Steps like "gay guy on the basketball court" are significant. Sports is where machismo lives, and machismo is practically synonymous with homophobia. If we can have a person saying "I'm gay" in a club like that, imagine what things can be like in the everyday world.

********************

Bonus Note #1: I've said this before, but I think the reason homophobia exists is because people hear "gay" and they think "gay sex." The outward gay-bashers aren't reacting to to a guy simply saying "I'm gay," they're reacting to what they're hearing in their head, which is "Men touching men! Penises touching! Male buttholes!!!" If some public figure held a news conference where they unveil graphic pictures of them having sex (with another man, a woman, a dog, whoever), then yes, the proper reaction would be to say "we don't want to see what you do behind closed doors." But a person simply being who they are is not that at all. Not even close. And if it embarrasses you when you see a Pride Parade with men in skimpy outfits kissing each other--first of all, you're missing a great party, and second of all, remember that heterosexuality is flaunted at all times in our society. Remember when you were a kid, and on Mother's Day or Father's Day, you'd ask why there wasn't a "Kids' Day"? What did your parents tell you? That's right, "Every day is kids' day." Gay people aren't trying to push stuff in your face, they're pushing back at the rules and laws and attitudes that have been forced up on them for generations.

Bonus Note #2: I'm glad that the player who came out is one I rooted for! You might not know that I grew up as the state of Connecticut's only New Jersey Nets fan in the 80s. All the other kids liked Bernard King--I liked Albert King. Other kids were fans of Larry Bird--I preferred Otis Birdsong. By the time the early 2000s rolled around, the Nets had partnered with the Yankees, and between that travesty and me wanting to reclaim some of the calendar year back from sports, I had to break off the relationship. But those last few years of my Nets fandom were the years they finally got good, and Jason Collins was our center!

Comments:
Jere,

Some people just don't like anyone talking about their beliefs, orientation, etc. no matter how they do it. I've been to the South, and some people still call it "the War of Northern Aggression."

There's a singer named Cee Lo Green who, a few years ago, changed the lyrics to John Lennon's "Imagine" from "and no religion too" to "and all religions true" and even after he clarified that he "meant no disrespect by changing the lyric guys! I was trying to say a world where u could believe what u wanted that's all" people were still pissed off!

He wasn't testifying about Jesus or inserting "Allahu akbar" into the song. He was preaching tolerance via acceptance but that wasn't enough for those who think ANY mention of religion is "shoving it" in someone's face.
 
Hey Jere, thanks for this. I've been trying to articulate why the "why is this a big deal" trope is homophobic, without much success. Well done and thank you.
 
And if it embarrasses you when you see a Pride Parade with men in skimpy outfits kissing each other--first of all, you're missing a great party, and second of all, remember that heterosexuality is flaunted at all times in our society. Remember when you were a kid, and on Mother's Day or Father's Day, you'd ask why there wasn't a "Kids' Day"? What did your parents tell you? That's right, "Every day is kids' day." Gay people aren't trying to push stuff in your face, they're pushing back at the rules and laws and attitudes that have been forced up on them for generations.

This is your best stuff right here. I'm repeating it for emphasis.
 
Laura, thanks! It's disappointing when people get fooled by veiled homophobia. And thanks for the repeat...

Liam: as I am the person you're referring to who was pissed about Cee Lo, I will say: Religion is a choice and homosexuality is not. And in your argument, the religious people are the oppressors, not the oppressed, so it makes no sense to compare the pro-religion side of that argument with the pro-gay side of the other one.
 
MOM HERE:

EX-SQUEEZE ME BUT:

"Circular 50
2  50.0712
Copyright
Registration for
Musical Compositions
The copyright law of the United States provides for copyright protection in
“musical works, including any accompanying words,” that are fixed in some tangible medium of expression. 17 U.S.C. §102(
a)(2). Musical works include both
original compositions and original arrangements or other new versions of earlier compositions to which new copyrightable authorship has been added.
The owner of copyright in a work has the exclusive right to make copies, to
prepare derivative works, to sell or distribute copies, and to perform the work
publicly. Anyone else wishing to use the work in these ways must have the permission of the author or someone who has derived rights through the author.
note: Copyright in a musical work includes the right to make and distribute the
first sound recording. Although others are permitted to make subsequent sound
recordings, they must compensate the copyright owner of the musical work under
the compulsory licensing provision of the law (17 U.S.C. §115). For more information,
see Circular 73, Compulsory License for Making and Distributing Phonorecords.
Copyright Protection Is Automatic
Under the present copyright law, which became effective January 1, 1978, a work
is automatically protected by copyright when it is created. A work is created
when it is “fixed” or embodied in a copy or phonorecord for the first time.
Neither registration in the Copyright Office nor publication is required for
copyright protection under the law."

MOM BACK: I HOPE CEE LO GREEN HAD HIS ASS SUED. FURTHER NOTE: ANYONE WHO THINKS HE OR SHE CAN IMPROVE ON THE LYRICS OF JOHN LENNON IS AN ARROGANT MORON.
 
I'm still so pissed about that. I mean to think that someone wanted to promote peace and getting along, so he thinks, "well, that song Imagine would be perfect, EXCEPT for one part which I'll need to change." At which point he changes a part that gives it the opposite meaning!
 
Jere,

Yes, I was going for obvious. My point is that some people will always think that ANY mention of a particular subject (sexuality, religion, politics) is too much. Some are outraged by people's bedroom activities with other consenting adults. Some are outraged when a singer changes four words to a particular rock song. I think both are examples of people not thinking their position through to its logical end.

But on what grounds are you arguing that religious people aren't "born" with a predilection for belief in the way a homosexual person is attracted to members of their own gender?

As per your claim that "religious people are the oppressors," that's a stereotype that, based on the number of self-identified Christians who are supporting Collins (Kobe Bryant, Lance Bass, President Clinton) a rather fallacious one. There are, no doubt, especially in this cultural milieu, a number of prominent voices who attempt to justify their prejudices with religion, but a look at the history of homophobia shows you don't have to be religious to engage in such bigotry, just as there have been religious people who have long advocated for an end to this type of prejudice.
 
Jere's Mom:

Ono did not sue. Her only response was, via Twitter, “Imagining Peace – that’s something that we can all do together – even when we have different opinions about so many things!" Imagine that, being tolerant rather than calling for his head on a stake?

And Green is hardly the first person in music to make changes to a particular piece. I wonder if you were equally outraged by the alterations Aretha Franklin made to Otis Redding's "Respect?"
 
I wasn't saying religious people are oppressing gays (though obviously some do), I was saying in the "religion vs. non religion" debate, the religious side is the majority, in other words the equivalent to the straight world in the "straight vs. gay" debate.

Also, calling someone a dick isn't the same as calling for his head on a stake.
 
Liam from Mom.

Wait, wait. If you're an artist and you're art is stolen, the thief should be sent to the Big House, whether he/she's stolen a painting, a sculpture, a piece of a book, a composition, a song lyric. The reason an artist's work is protected by copyright law, is that WE HAVE TO PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE. No problem there for Ono, naturally, but it is a tragedy that she isn't sensitive to someone changing John's lyrics for his own gain. And where the hell is Sean? Somebody get a response from him!

ps. If you look at a picture of Sean Lennon at age 10, and look at a picture of Jere, same age, they could be mistaken for identical twins.

pss. At to the larger picture (thank you, Jere), I heard a piece of talk radio, WTIC Hartford, home of the Red Sox, with people arguing most violently as to whether the gay basketball player had sex with his fiance before he broke up with her. Sometimes I don't get mad, believe it or not. Sometimes I get to laughing so hard at the neanderthalls who call into right-wing extremist hate radio shows, I have to pull over to the side of the road and re-compose.
 
Liam--you kind of sound like one of these "War on Christmas" people. I'm an atheist. I'm not saying being one is anywhere near as hard as being gay, but there's a similar thing where I can't tell certain people that I don't believe in God. Yet no God people ever have any trouble saying they believe. Because their way is the accepted norm. And here you are acting like it's the masses who are shooting down religious people thinking it's being rubbed in our faces, when the reality is that like heterosexuality, it's ALWAYS in our faces! WE the non-religious are the ones who are, like I said, "pushing back" as opposed to "pushing it in the religious peoples' faces." And this is a country that's SUPPOSED to have separation between church and state.
 
Jere,

C'mon. War on Christmas? No offense, but you're the one ranting over changing four words in a rock song. I wasn't complaining about the many times I heard the song with the original lyrics. But I also don't see Green's changes as being entirely opposite to the spirit of the tune. He clarified that he was trying to say people should be allowed to believe what they want. You're the one who seems to think him changing it was a "War on Atheism." Yoko and Sean didn't seem bothered, and they certainly haven't hesitated in the past about their speaking their minds on Lennon's legacy.

While I've no doubt you have and are going to encounter people who don't approve of your beliefs, I have to ask can you honestly say there is anyone who hasn't had similar experiences? You say that "No God people ever have any trouble saying what they believe?" Are you serious? Let's take a popular, recent example that you can read about. Francis Collins, current head of a N.I.H., had a scathing and purely prejudicial op-ed piece written about him when Obama appointed him. Was this on "atheistsrock.com?" No, it was in the 'The New York Times.' Sam Harris wrote it. Despite Collins' impeccable credentials (Yale graduate, MD from UNC at Chapel Hill, work on the Human Genome Project) Harris' main argument was essentially, well, yeah, he's a respected and accomplished scientist, but he's also a Christian. Change "Christian" to "woman" and tell me that type of tripe would get printed in the Grey Lady.

I'm not, contrary to what you seem to believe, insisting that the "masses are shooting down religious people." But it appears to me that all Cee Lo did was exert his artistic license as a performer with the song. He did not use government funds or airtime, nor, so I am aware, did he apply for a N.E.A. grant to spread the message of his new and improved "Imagine." So if this was "shoved in your face," what has that to do with the separation of church and state? What should have been done about it? Turn Green over to the Ministry of Love?
 
Jere's Mom,

I understand the importance of art as property in the commercial sense, but as I've mentioned, Ono seemed fine with it and Sean, who certainly hasn't hesitated in discussing his father's legacy in the past, has said nothing. Isn't it qui tacet consentire?

The situation reminds me of Ray Charles and the criticism he received for combining gospel and blues. Funny how with Green it was the atheists who pulled their hair and gnashed their teeth at someone making alterations to a piece of music.
 
Mom here.
Liam from Mom,
Maybe Ono is fine with shoplifting. But breakin' the law is breakin' the law.
And ah, the article "the". Da Yankee Fan once scolded me saying, I come in peace. I try to show that I do, too, actually, by pointing out things like Sean Lennon and Jere looking like twins when they were kids. I guess you didn't think that was neat. But I have to tell you that when someone puts "the" in front of words like atheists, blacks, feminists, gays, etc.; as with, "I have nothing against the blacks," my antennae start sizzling.
So I'm done here, but feel free to have a last word or two.

 
Jere's Mom,

The phrase "gnashing of teeth" is an allusion to Matthew's Gospel, and I thought the reference and hyperbole would capture the mock tone of a fundamentalist talking about "the atheists." Clearly it sounded funnier in my head, in that tone. Humor is an active part of conversing with me, but it's hard to capture in print.
 

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