May 1, 2009

Column exhibits stereotypes

Forget about having PRIDE all wrong, it sounds like Luke Dumas would like to throw away 15 years of progress and turn having a gay sexual orientation into being, by nature, some Fox sitcom’s gay supporting character. He references “the campus’s deep-seated need for ostentatious homosexuality” (“Having a Gay Old Time,” 4/28/09)—what is this? Does he mean the need for a safe space for those individuals who happen to be ostentatious and homosexual? The sentence as it stands seems to imply that there is something intrinsically ostentatious to being gay. That just because one is gay, then one needs to be this 1960s archetype. Last time I checked, that’s an incredibly offensive and hurtful stereotype that empowers religious conservatives more than queer individuals. Dumas’s references to “all the real gay stuff: The Liza Minnelli Discussion Club, the Celine Dion Karaoke Nights” is way off the mark. Real gay stuff is men who like men, women who like women, and people who don’t identify in conventional ways. The things he lists are fun. And I suppose there is something to be said for the (socially constructed) sub-culture of queer people, which can be inviting in its solidarity. But the bottom line is that neither of those things are “real gay stuff.” Unless you are using gay in the derogatory locker-room-banter way, that’s not what “gay” really means. Those are offshoots of the generalizations made about the gay community, at times to unite and uplift, but just as often to marginalize and pigeonhole. I can appreciate the sentiment that he wishes things were a little more cutting-edge and “loud.” But that’s a problem with the U of C in general. We don’t have a lot of fun; a lot of the student body just isn’t that daring. But his article makes it sound as if it’s a queer person’s duty to be this larger-than-life caricature. That sounds like a sure way to regress rather than to progress. Paul AccardiClass of 2009