Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Reversals: The Good and the Bad

If you're familiar with gay/lesbian political issues, then you must be familiar with California's Proposition 8 a couple of years ago. Essentially, California legalized gay marriage statewide, and then popular vote via an election in November 20008 reversed it, thus making gay marriage illegal in the state of California to this day. This pattern of a gain lost (or even a loss gained) surrounding LBGTQ issues is not all too uncommon in recent history. Here are some very current examples of such "reversals," some bad, some good, some semi-neutral.

CNN's "Does homosexuality need a cure?" segment
On April 6, 2010, CNN aired a segment debating both sides of the "issue" of whether homosexuality needs a cure. Of course, popular opinion
as of late has been increasingly in favor of homosexuality not being a choice and being perfectly okay. For CNN to have even thought it was alright to put such a question into the thoughts of millions of Americans is beyond me--in fact, it's downright silly and regressive. But not only does CNN (a supposedly more-socially-liberal cable news channel) allow Americans to think twice about the possibility of the existence of a homosexuality cure, but CNN also brings in author Richard Cohen (who is in favor of homosexuality needing a cure) for a debate even though Cohen has been discredited and even kicked out of the American Counseling Organization. To me, this seems like CNN is trying too hard to show both sides of an issue even though the sides are incredibly disproportionate concerning public support. This is definitely a step backward.

The decline of "gayborhoods"
Straight columnist Matt Katz put out a column on April 6, 2010, arguing that neighborhoods mostly consisting of gay/lesbian-identified populations (i.e., gayborhoods) are dead and gone. In other words, more and more straight people are moving into these neighborhoods, deconcentrating gay populations. Historically, gayborhoods attracted large numbers of gay populations because these such areas "fulfill[ed] [gay] stereotypes while simultaneously stimulat[ed] social justice
." That is, they had porn shops, stylish stores, community gardens, and all the lavish things gay men "typically" enjoy having around; and because there were so many gay people in one place, they could gather more easily for social justice causes. But then, the neighborhood style caught on. Straight people realized that it was cool to be associated with and live near most of the things gay men stereotypically found enjoyable, for straight people were "hungry for cheap space and a higher cool quotient." Since you can't really discriminate on sexual orientation for housing, straight people eventually moved into these gayborhoods, "de-gaying" them, so to speak. Is this a good thing? Maybe. On the one hand, the gay population may no longer be as "visible" as they were with their own neighborhood or region. But on the other hand, the reasons for the death of the gayborhood show that gay and straight people want the same things concerning their residences and are not that different from one another, which has been what was trying to have been said for a long time.

Being falsely accused of being gay is no longer slander/libel
As reported on April 4, 2010, a New Jersey district court reversed an earlier precedent case in 2001 where a television star had successfully sued a radio host for falsely calling her a lesbian. In the 2010 case, the judge ruled that even though some DJs falsely called a freelance photographer gay, it was not considered defamation of the photographer's character, so the photographer would not be able to sue. The rationale of the judge took into account the "evolution of the societal landscape
" and that by simply referring to someone as homosexual would not "tend to so harm the reputation of that person as to lower him in the estimation of the community as to deter third persons from associating or dealing with him. Happily, in today's climate, most right thinking people do not think less of you because of your sexual orientation." This is definitely a step forward. It's not so good for the homophobic people who want to be paranoid and sue people questioning their sexuality though.

Endorsement of the immediate treatment of HIV
As reported in a New York Times article on April 2, The City of San Francisco endorses the beginning of HAART therapy immediately upon diagnosis of HIV. Previously, HIV-positive people would generally not begin treatment until there were obvious signs of immune system deterioration. The backlash centers on the fact that HIV treatment medications can be pretty harsh on to some people's health, with long-term effects still relatively unknown. So even though this seems like a great reversal of previous precedent anecdotes, the issue is a lot stickier since people's basic healths could be at risk.

Historical letters reveal famous figure to be gay
Remember the 1996 movie The English Patient? It won 9 Academy awards back then. The Hungarian solider (Lazlo de Almasy) who was the inspiration for the protagonist of film is gay, based on some letters found that he had written to his male lover. In the movie, the protagonist is depicted as a womanizer who died while longing for the woman he loved. In reality, the man who provided inspiration for the movie never slept with a woman. Quite a reversal. This also showcases some heavy heterosexism going on.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the great entry. I always enjoy what you have to say Timmy.