Monday, November 12, 2007

On Veteran's Day, Gay Soldiers, and the MYTH of Gay Sissyhood

"sissy!"

"weakling!"

"faggot!"

Those are some of the words I heard growing up and the words I was taught were synonymous with being gay. It's one of the reasons I had so much trouble figuring out that I WAS gay - oh, I knew who I was attracted to and all, but because I wanted to grow up to be a man of strength and confidence, and I wanted to be held by another man of strength and confidence, the label "gay" didn't seem to fit.

In many ways, the popularity of Tom of Finland,



and the whole gym-bunny muscle-bound ripped-abs look, is a cultural response of Gay men to this myth of sissyhood.

Almost as if they're answering the schoolyard taunts: Gay men are sissies? Not if you look at my biceps!

And, I'll add - not if you look (really look) at history!

Here's a great quote about Alexander the Great:

"His primary love seems to have been reserved for his companion from boyhood, the brilliant Hephaestion. According to Plutarch, when Alexander came to the site of Ancient Troy, he laid a wreath on Achilles' tomb, and Hephaestion laid one on the tomb of Patroclus: a clear and public avowal of their relationship, given that the ancients commonly supposed Achilles and Patroclus to have been lovers."
Here's a cool image from a mosaic showing Alexander in Battle:



But despite the historical record (often hidden and "straight-i-fied") about famous warriors (like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Trajan, Frederick the Great, and Lawrence of Arabia) being Men who loved Men, American culture continues to steep us in this falsehood.

And then there's the opposite supposition about Lesbians - that their women-loving ways make them hard, masculine, unattractive. In fact, there's a misogyny at work here in the prejudice against women who have power - look at the efforts to portray Hilary Clinton, a U.S. Senator, the front-runner for the Democratic Presidential Nomination, a true Woman of Power, as a lesbian.

What about the Women of Power and Beauty in Herstory who were womyn-loving-womyn? Queen Christina of Sweden, Russia's Catherine II (1729-1796), and England's Queen Anne (1665-1714), and, of course, the AMAZONS!?! Once again, the facts are ignored, overlooked, buried.

The unstated bias is that a woman of true power couldn't be "normal." She must be trying to be the "man," in that quaint (and insulting) concept some straight people have that in a gay or lesbian relationship, the sexual roles remain classic, only with one effeminate man playing the "woman" and one butch woman playing the "man."

So, saddled as we are with these ridiculous and patently untrue stereotypes, we have the disastrous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, despite many other countries letting openly Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender soldiers serve without any loss of "unit cohesion" or "military readiness." Look at the experience of Spain, Canada, The Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Australia, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Great Britain and Israel.

In fact, when you check out the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network's website, they have an HONOR EVERY VETERAN campaign. In their words:

"One million lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans have served in our armed forces. Yet, the Pentagon fires two people every day for being gay.

LGBT service members have served in every conflict since the American Revolution. Since World War II, however, our government has discharged more than 115,000 brave American service members who had been willing to die for our liberty, even while denied their own because of who they are."

It's amazing how homophobia can become policy, and policy can foment more homophobia.

But the opposite is true as well - policy can show equality and respect, and thus a culture of equality and respect is encouraged to grow.

So it's Veteran's Day. And like that amazing line from the movie "300"

"Freedom isn't Free."

We're a country at war - a very unpopular war - and no one here at home seems truly affected except for the military families whose lives revolve around constant crisis and sacrifice.

So it's a day to honor our Veterans, to honor our current serving members of the military and their families, and also a day to remember what this country stands for: Liberty and Justice for All. And that includes all the servicemembers who have been discharged for being who they are - and it includes all of us, too: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Queer Americans - sissies and musclemen - bulldykes and lipstick lesbians, everyone in-between genders and stereotypes, all of us!

Maybe Today is a good day to realize that if freedom isn't free, perhaps equality - true equality - is a goal everyone in our community, and all our straight-and-not-narrow allies, need to stand up for, shout about, and vote for as well!


And one last thought for this Monday, in images:

The Gay Pride Rainbow Flag is this:





and the Italian PEACE flag is this:




I like how they've been brought together.

Here's to a world at peace...

Namaste,

Lee


(Great information on Alexander the Great, Queen Christina and other Gays and Lesbians of Power came from pgs. 56-59, and pgs. 98 - 101 in "The Gay 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Gay Men and Lesbians, Past and Present" by Paul Russell.)

1 comment:

bbovenguy said...

Hello there,

I'm Robert A. Black, and you have two of my books listed in your "Books Still to Come" list. It's great that you noticed them, but only The Real Life Channel has any GLBT themes in it. Liberty Girl doesn't.

If you're interested, you can find out more about The Real Life Channel from the time it was featured as part of "GLBT Month" at the YA Books Central website. Take a look here:

http://www.yabookscentral.com/cfusion/index.cfm?fuseAction=authors.viewAuthor&author_id=3071