Thursday, October 9, 2014

Homophobia is Alive and Well

I wanted to draw your attention to a podcast I listened to today that I personally found a bit disturbing.

It's a weekly podcast hosted by the author Bret Easton Ellis, where he discusses Hollywood, movies and popular culture with a different celebrity guest each week. 

This week his guest was actress turned director Rose McGowan, who organized the "Gay-in" at the Beverly Hills Hotel in May this year, in protest against the anti-gay laws in Brunei.

She's very articulate and makes some good points about, for example, people being hypocrites by boycotting the hotel while doing business with Saudi Arabia. But unfortunately during the interview (listen from 27:30 to 42:00) she launches into a rant about the gay community and gay men in particular.

She accuses gay men of being misogynistic, in her own words "just as, if not more, misogynistic than straight men." This really upset me, because although some gay men can be very disrespectful towards women, referring to them as "cunts" or "sluts", [straight men, too -- Bill] I know a great many gay men who have fantastic friendships with women, and are very supportive of gender equality and feminism. [Hear! Hear!] What really got my goat, however, was when she asserted that "not one single gay man has spoken out in support of women." Here I call bullshit. [You said it!]

I'd really appreciate if you could listen to that segment of the show, because I've heard this opinion voiced so many times by so many different people, and it always upsets me. I'd love to have a really pithy come-back when people say that to me! I think such a common accusation leveled against gay men would make a great topic for Ask Dr Bill. What do you think?

Btw it's the podcast dated 10/6/2014.


Many thanks for calling my attention to this. I agree that that old stereotype of gay men as women-haters -- which is essentially what this lady is saying -- should have fallen by the wayside by now. How a man thinks about women [or some women] depends on the individual man -- not on his sexual orientation. 

Rose McGowan is a young lady who seems unaware of a lot of facts about the gay community and the gay rights struggle as well as the community's relationship to other human rights organizations. Many years ago New York's Gay Activists Alliance, the country's first militant [non-violent] Gay Rights group decided to focus on gay rights only because in previous groups the members -- also committed to black rights, women's rights, etc. -- were so busy rushing off to one rally after another that they never got anything done pertaining to gay rights. GAA supported other organizations and the members could selectively choose to attend any rallies etc. that they wanted to, but if they hadn't stayed focused on gay rights they never would have achieved anything. You can say the same thing about gay groups that followed, and women's and black groups as well. NOW [National Organization of Women] may well have supported gay causes but you can believe they stayed focused on feminism or they would have accomplished little. McGowan seems to think that because some states have gay marriage that the whole struggle is over and gay groups should just disband or lend a hand elsewhere. For heaven's sake, didn't the fact that the gay movement expanded to become the LGBT movement, embracing and including bisexuals and transsexuals, prove that many Gays and Lesbians were not solely focused on themselves? Besides, with the scary things going on in Russia, China, Turkey, and other nations pertaining to gay/human rights violations, only a totally self-absorbed stereotypical "Hollywood" type would think there is no homophobia anymore. That's just as ridiculous as saying there's no racism or sexism. Or is that just "narcissistic gay self-victimization" as Ellis calls it? [More on that later.]

Well-adjusted gay men are not misogynous -- either toward straight women or lesbians -- and as you rightly point out many have loving relationships with females. Self-hating gay men may have issues, but it's simple ignorance for McGowan to "indict" gay men and suggest that most, if not all, fall into the sexist category.  In my experience there is often a bond between many gay men and women, both of whom have been subjected to abuse by what used to be called the "hetero-sexist" society. I have personally met many male "feminists" and I myself have supported women's rights my entire adult life. McGowan is taking incidents -- unpleasant gay men she has met -- and using them to back up her theory, which is so homophobic in one sense [the old "gay men hate women" canard] that it's almost scary. I am not familiar with her work, which hardly makes me a woman-hater, but she has perhaps on occasion gotten negative reactions for one thing or another from men who happen to be gay and allowed this to knock her scales out of whack. 

Not to slander heterosexual men, and not to indulge in the kind of generalizations that characterize Ms. McGowan's thinking concerning gay men, but I think "straight" men in general are a lot more misogynous than gay men. It usually isn't Out and Proud gay men who rape women, batter their wives, become deadbeat daddies and so on. Gay Men don't get sore at women due to romantic disappointments. Sure, there are fucked up gay men out there, but to say they are typical of the community is ludicrous and offensive. 

I have a feeling McGowan doesn't mean to be homophobic, but is speaking out of simple ignorance. Both she and Ellis exhibit that kind of [admittedly stereotypical] lopsided, off the cuff, kind of superficial thinking that seemingly dismisses people who fight for gay rights or have concern for gay issues as merely belonging to a cult of victimization or as being "morons." Some people actually care about gays in other countries who are suffering terrible abuses; others just care about themselves or what's going on with their careers, no matter how much they may protest otherwise. It's like "Some bitchy queens diss my work -- gee the gay male community must be fucked up." 

And consider where Ms. McGowan is hoping to find men [gay or straight] who are progressive and committed to women's rights [or gay rights for that matter]: Hollywood? (Forgive me if I'm indulging in some stereotyping of my own.) Even Ellis doesn't seem much committed to anything; perhaps in this I'm unfair but he gives no opposition to McGowan's words.

Sadly, you can always find men of whatever persuasion who have a problem with women (and vice versa). To suggest that most or all gay men have that problem ignores both history and reality.

If you want a comeback when someone brings this up to you again say: "I don't have a problem with women; maybe you have a problem with men like me."

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