21 March 2008

Stumbling Blocks To Gay Liberation: DENIAL

Stumbling Block

Denial is defined by Merriam-Webster as a psychological defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality. I agree with this definition 100%! Contrary to what you may have heard, Gay men aren't "queens", but we do tend to be Queens of Denial (thanks, Pam Tillis)!!!

We’re not the only ones, either. Lesbians and Pansexual and Transsexual folk all make the same royal proclamations: I'm "queer" and proud! “Queer” is the only word that’s totally inclusive of our community. The word “d*ke” isn't a slur, it just means “strong woman”. We have to endow "f*ggot" with alternative meanings that empower us. The tortured rhetoric, which reeks of internalized shame, speaks for itself! So does the idiotic idea that we can interface effectively with oppressors by presenting ourselves as the very sexual stereotypes they find contemptible!

We’ve convinced ourselves that the power structure takes our Gay Rights movement seriously, even though we encourage a carnival atmosphere around our primary political statement: The annual Gay Pride parade! If that isn’t Denial, I don’t know what is!

Denial about the epithets we use among ourselves is even more pervasive. For instance, the words “f*ggot” and “d*ke” both appear to have been derived from insults directed at women. Etymologists have traced “f*ggot” to an older root word used to denigrate elderly women. It had the connotation of “hag” or “b*tch” (a slur that working-class Gay men share with women). Contrary to what’s widely believed, “f*ggot” is not a reference to the kindling once used to burn Gay people at the stake.

The word “d*ke” has been traced to a vulgar expression for a woman’s vagina (similar to “c*nt”). It may also be an abbreviation of the word “hermaphrodite”, meaning a person with indeterminate genitalia. (This information was taken from the Online Etymology Dictionary.) Either way, it’s a reference to something between a woman’s legs; kind of rude, don’t you think? Naming a person after her reproductive organs?  Narrowing her humanity down to an anatomical slur?  "D*ke" is certainly not proper language to use around children!

There’s something else we can deduce for certain: Both of these slurs were coined by men for the purpose of insulting womanhood! Most, if not all Lesbians call themselves feminists. How can a feminist allow misogynist language to issue from her mouth, much less define her identity???!!!

I’ve been accused of “political correctness” for calling attention to inconvenient truths like this. So “political correctness” is bad . . . compared to what? Political naïveté is far worse! How is it possible to win a political struggle (what we claim to be engaged in) with politics that aren’t correct? Denial rears its ugly head again!

LGBT folk not only deny the negative effects our own actions can have, but also the crippling effects we suffer from Ignorance and the other Stumbling Blocks I'll discuss here. Refusing to accept these realities leaves us vulnerable to the forces that collectively seek to marginalize and disenfranchise us. Sadly, our Denial is so strong that we actually participate in our own disenfranchisement!

Here are examples of self-disenfranchisement: Gay people who embrace one-dimensional media portrayals of themselves. Gay people who endorse radical political strategy that alienates instead of inspires. Gay people who actively oppose marriage equality. Gay people who are indifferent when Lesbians and Gay men are denied employment/membership in religious institutions. Gay people who are more hostile to open military service for LesBiGay citizens than the Joint Chiefs of Staff! These kinds of incomprehensible positions pop up regularly in Gay political discourse. Of all the stumbling blocks, Denial is the oppressor’s greatest ally in perpetuating our oppression!

What Straight ally extraordinaire Jerry Maneker has to say about Denial cuts right to the heart of the matter:

The defense mechanism of Denial plays right into the homophobes’ hands . . . you are confirming, not only to them but to many who might otherwise be your allies . . . that you are truly outsiders who wish to remain on the outside . . . recognize that there are many LGBT people who seek the very same rights as heterosexuals (sic) . . . your use of pejorative labels when you refer to yourselves, and the Mardi Gras celebrations you have when you’re still on the outside looking in hinders and prevents (everyone) from acquiring those rights . . . you must be willing to move beyond your comfort zones . . . recognize your uniqueness as part of God’s creation (and) insist (on) having the same place at the table as do your heterosexual counterparts!

"Stumbling Blocks to Gay Liberation" continues with MACHISMO.

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