Tag Archives: homophobia

Police Raid Shanghai Gay Bar and Detain More Than 60

Two things:

I visited Shanghai for a seminar last May. There you would see women clasped arm in arm, hand in hand, walking in public.  Any Chinese girl you made friends with wanted to take your hand.  My professor, Bill Mullen, who had lived in China for a while after college a few decades ago said that Chinese men used to do the same until the past couple of decades.

And China always seems to be walking a fine line between maintaining government control through police powers and pissing off the people.  This detainment, along with the detainment of the recent Jasmine Revolution protesters, seem like just the trick to shake things up.

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By ANDREW JACOBS at the NYT.  Published: April 4, 2011.  Read the story in its entirety here.

BEIJING—More than 60 patrons and employees at a gay bar in Shanghai were swept up in a police raid early Sunday morning and held for more 12 hours, according to the state media and several of those detained…

The raid, which coincides with one of the most concerted government crackdowns on dissent in a decade, sent a chill through China’s burgeoning gay community, which in recent years has grown self-confident despite intermittent harassment from the authorities. Gay activists say they cannot recall an incident in which so many people were taken into custody in one fell swoop.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1997 and officially removed from a list of mental disorders in 2001 although it remains largely taboo, and invisible.

During the past two years, organizers in Shanghai have tried to stage a low-key gay pride festival, although on both occasions the authorities have ordered the last-minute cancellation of several events — including social mixers, film screenings and a play performance — without explanation.

After bursting into the bar shortly after 1 a.m. on Sunday, the police allowed foreign patrons to leave but took almost everyone else to the Xiaodongmen police station, where they were photographed, questioned and held without food or water until the following afternoon, a number of those detained said….

Read the rest here.

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Uganda: Gay Rights Activist Found Murdered

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Global Voices:

Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato was found murdered, just weeks after winning a court case against a local newspaper that had called for Ugandans to “hang” homosexuals.

Kato was an advocacy officer for gay rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda, which published a press release reading:

David was brutally beaten to death in his home today, 26 January 2011, around 2pm. Across the entire country, straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex Ugandans mourn the loss of David, a dear friend, colleague, teacher, family member, and human rights defender.

David has been receiving death threats since his face was put on the front page of Rolling Stone Magazine, which called for his death and the death of all homosexuals. David’s death comes directly after the Supreme Court of Uganda ruled that people must stop inciting violence against homosexuals and must respect the right to privacy and human dignity.

Uganda has been in the news for gay rights issues since October 2009, when Member of Parliament David Bahati tabled a bill that would provide for life imprisonment or the death penalty for not only homosexuals but also anyone found to be supporting or promoting gay rights.

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The proposed bill has stirred up considerable anti-gay sentiments in Uganda, including the publication by local newspaper Rolling Stone [no relation to Rolling Stone Magazine] of a list of 100 suspected homosexuals and their addresses. Kato was on the list, and his face was on the paper’s front page.

Rolling Stone "100 Pictures of Uganda's Top Homos Leak: Hang Them"Photo via Gay Uganda.

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NPR:

Ugandan gay activist David Kato was murdered this Wednesday at his home in Uganda’s capital Kampala. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda. Kato gained international attention when the Ugandan newspaper Rolling Stone published a picture of him and several others next to the words “Hang Them.” In 2009, the Ugandan parliament was considering a bill that imposes the death penalty on people who are found to engage in homosexual activities. The bill was introduced after American evangelicals came to Kampala for a conference. Other Ugandan gay rights activists say Kato’s death resulted, in part, from sentiments that those evangelicals brought.

Statement by the President on the Killing of David Kato

January 28, 2011

I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder of David Kato. In Uganda, David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate. He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom. The United States mourns his murder, and we recommit ourselves to David’s work.

At home and around the world, LGBT persons continue to be subjected to unconscionable bullying, discrimination, and hate. In the weeks preceding David Kato’s murder in Uganda, five members of the LGBT community in Honduras were also murdered. It is essential that the Governments of Uganda and Honduras investigate these killings and hold the perpetrators accountable.

LGBT rights are not special rights; they are human rights. My Administration will continue to strongly support human rights and assistance work on behalf of LGBT persons abroad. We do this because we recognize the threat faced by leaders like David Kato, and we share their commitment to advancing freedom, fairness, and equality for all.

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The Plastics at Morehouse

With all of the recent dialogue over homophobia due to the recent teen suicides, we need to have a better discussion about the intersectionality of race, gender, and sexuality.  In my most recent post on C. J. Pascoe’s Dude, You’re a Fag, I included a snippet from her section on the racialized contexts of the use of homophobia epithets.

One issue that she didn’t get into is the pressures of heterosexuality within the black community, especially for black men.  After reading Vibe’s article on the new dress code at Morehouse and how it affects transgender students, I felt like I needed to go read some bell hooks.

I initially heard about Morehouse’s changes in its dress code policy when I attended Agnes Scott College – an all women’s college not too far from Morehouse.

In our day and age, traditional femininity is devalued.  (More conservative) Parents expect their daughters to be born fragile, vulnerable, and domestic because they believe these characteristics are biological.  Parents, therefore, encourage girls to be more masculine – more powerful, more engaged in sports, and louder.  Women are lauded for having a balance of both characteristically masculine and feminine traits.

Young boys, on the other hand, are expected to be born masculine, and any hint of femininity is perceived as homosexual, feminine, and therefore weak.  In saying, “Don’t be a sissy, don’t cry!” parents force their boys to continuously “accomplish” their masculinity throughout their lives as they feel that they constantly need to prove it to themselves and others.

Combine this incessant quest for masculinity with the issues of race and you’ve got a hell of an article.

Although it would be great if all Princess Boys could grow up in loving families with supportive schools, Morehouse shows more discussions are needed in how institutions help reinforce heterosexual masculinity.

Here are some excerpts from Vibe’s article “The Mean Girls of Morehouse.”  Read the FASCINATING story in its entirety here.

You should also check out the comments, where you can witness largely black men and women criticizing the actions of these Morehouse students because it reflects badly on the race.  Take, for example, this comment by Desiree, (1 of 234 comments) who stated:

If you dont know about Morehouse College, then you would not understand what the president is coming from… I go to Clark Atlanta University, which is right next door to More house College. What would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr (who graduateed and tought at Morehouse) say if his school all of a sudden had male students looking like women.
As black people we can not turn our cheek and let foolishness continue. We need to make our ancestors proud and be better for our future. I do not have a problem with gay men because they know what they want, men. I have a problem with Men looking like women claiming to be men and a gay guy looking for a women like man to be his boo, then find a female….
Posted 10-12-2010 01:27 pm
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And finally, some excerpts from the article:

WITHIN THE OPENLY GAY COMMUNITY AT ATLANTA’S MOREHOUSE COLLEGE, THERE’S A SUBGROUP: GENDER BENDERS WHO ROCK MAKEUP, MARC JACOBS TOTE BAGS, SKY-HIGH HEELS AND BEYONCÉ- STYLE HAIR WEAVES. CAN A MAN OF MOREHOUSE BE GAY? ABSOLUTELY. BUT CAN HE BE A WOMAN? MEET THE PLASTICS.

Diamond Martin Poulin, 20, teetering in strappy sandals with three-inch heels, steps into an eclectic clothing boutique in Little Five Points, a quaint cluster of shops and restaurants two and a half miles outside of downtown Atlanta. “Ooooh,” squeals Diamond. “What about this?” Holding up a white floor-skimming skirt with an eyelet hem, he swoons. The proprietor of the store looks up at Diamond, does a double take, and immediately picks up the cordless phone at the register. “There’s a man in here with heels on!” she whispers loudly into the phone. Diamond raises his eyebrows and continues browsing the racks. He shrugs when asked if the comment bothers him. “Isn’t it true?” he says, chuckling. “There is a man in here with heels on.”

Nibbling on sushi later that day, Diamond explains why he left after one year at Morehouse. A bastion for producing leaders in politics, community service and medicine, Morehouse College has long been viewed as the ultimate HBCU for young Black men, who are conferred with the mystique of being “Men of Morehouse.” Established in 1867 in Augusta, Georgia, as the Augusta Institute, the school counts such luminaries as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Atlanta’s first Black mayor, Maynard H. Jackson, Jr.; financier Reginald E. Davis; School Daze writer/director Spike Lee; the late Keith “Guru” Elam of Gang Starr; and the late Def Jam exec Shakir Stewart among its graduates.

"Diamond"That pedigree is what brought Diamond (pictured left) to Morehouse, but he says the school’s social conservatism drove him out. In October of last year, the Morehouse College administration announced a new “appropriate attire policy.” The dress code stated that students, referred to as “Renaissance Men,” were not allowed to wear caps, do-rags, sunglasses or sagging pants on the Morehouse campus or at college-sponsored events. But what raised most eyebrows was the rule about women’s clothing: no wearing of dresses, tops, tunics, purses or pumps.

The new dress code resulted in a flurry of media coverage, prompting Dr. William Bynum, Jr., vice president for Student Services, to release a statement to several news outlets: “We are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress a way we do not expect in Morehouse men.” During a recent visit to the campus, the poet Saul Williams wore a skirt in solidarity.

“Morehouse wasn’t ready for me,” says Diamond, who has the word “unbreakable” tattooed on his collarbone and the acronym C.R.E.A.M (“Cash Rules Everything Around Me” coined by rap group Wu Tang Clan) wrapped around his right wrist. “I’m about freedom of expression. I’m about being whomever you truly are inside. I came to Morehouse because of all the historical leaders that attended and impacted the world so heavily. You know, I really wanted to follow in their footsteps. I don’t think Morehouse believes that someone like me—someone who wears heels and dresses—can uphold that reputation. But they’re wrong.”

“We respect the identity and choices of all young men at Morehouse,” Dr. Bynum said via email. “However, the Morehouse leadership development model sets a certain standard of how we expect young men to dress, and this attire does not fit within the model. Our proper attire policy expresses that standard.”

Diamond now attends American InterContinental University, majoring in fashion marketing and design. “I want to, like, teach at Parsons. Or you know, maybe even in London—who knows?”

“I was in the cafeteria, and I had on this cropped hooded sweatshirt. So my stomach was out,” he recalls. “I had on a nice pair of jeans and some sandals. And this boy, a football player, said something that sounded like ‘faggot.’ Before I could even stop myself, I threw my plate of food at him. That’s not even my style. I’m more of a middle-finger kind of person. We ended up yelling at each other for a few minutes, but nothing really came out of it. He could have hit me, but he didn’t. But he didn’t have to. I was already hurt and embarrassed.”

While Diamond insists he’s happier at AIU, his tone and demeanor suggest that he wishes he’d had the opportunity to prove his worth at Morehouse. “I wanted to go to an HBCU,” he says, dipping shrimp tempura into soy sauce. “I wanted the whole African-American experience. I thought it would be a beautiful thing.”

After leaving Morehouse, Diamond would return occasionally to see friends at the school and use the computer lab. Earlier this year, after the new dress code was enacted, he was asked to leave by school security officers. “I had my Nicki Minaj-style Chinese bangs,” says Diamond, a defiant twinkle in his eyes. “I showed them my ID from AIU. I didn’t go to the school, so the dress code should not have applied to me. But they wanted me off campus anyway.”

Kevin Rome, Ph.D., Morehouse class of 1989, is the former vice president for Student Services for the College. He says that people like Diamond are a small minority of the students at the College, and shouldn’t make up such a large percentage of the press the school has received about the appropriate attire policy. “There are nearly 3,000 students at Morehouse, and maybe three that [the ban on women’s attire] applies to. We’re giving such a large influence on a minute population. It’s not representative of the school.”

This is not the first time Morehouse has had to deal with controversy surrounding its gay community. In November, 2002, Morehouse student Gregory Love suffered a fractured skull after being beaten with a baseball bat in a dormitory bathroom shower. A fellow student, Aaron Price, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and served seven for assault and battery. The attack was reportedly prompted by what was thought to be a sexual advance from Love.

Diamond believes he’s a trendsetter. While the population may be small now, he sees the gender benders as a growing group. And as for the future gender benders at Morehouse, Diamond is hopeful. “Even though I’m gone, the Plastics are still represented at Morehouse,” says Diamond. “And I think as time goes on, the administration will have to accept the different types of men enrolled. They need to look to the future. It didn’t work out for me, but I put in the work for people like me to come to Morehouse….”

Read on, friends!

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First Open Transgender in Division I College Basketball

Yes, you heard right.

Having done a post a few months ago on gender and sex discrimination in women’s basketball and viewed the degrading treatment of record-breaking runner Caster Semenya just last year, this story appears to be a remarkable precedent for gender and sexual equality in sports.


Here are some portions from Matt Norlander’s article, “Transgender George Washington player a fascinating, inspiring story,” via Rivals.com to give you the basics. 

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The George Washington junior — who used to be known as Kay-Kay — is referred to on the school’s website as a “male member of George Washington’s women’s basketball team.”

Allums wants to be identified as a male, though he will not begin any medical or drug protocols until he graduates in order to preserve his eligibility on George Washington’s women’s basketball team. OutSports.com reported Allums will be the first publicly transgender person to play Division I college basketball.

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So you might be wondering how this is all possible – how can he play for a women’s basketball team as a man?  The NCAA states that as long as Allums doesn’t take testosterone, he qualifies to play on a women’s team.

This very thorough and fascinating article from OutSports.com describes how this situation isn’t just black and white, female or male:

The issue remains a complicated one for many to grasp. One coach who asked to remain anonymous said he might have a problem if a team in his conference had a player who identified themselves as a man. The reasoning: Because Allums identifies as a man, everyone should treat him as such and he should be playing men’s sports.

Still, Allums’ education is on the line, and he has a scholarship to play on the women’s basketball team. No such scholarship has been extended for him to play on the men’s team.

“There’s not just a one-sentence answer,” said former NCAA basketball head coach Helen Carroll, who co-authored NCLR’s trans-athlete report. “It’s much more complicated than him being a man so he should play men’s sports. Kye as an athlete should have an opportunity to play sports. Period. What that looks like gets complicated because Kye is a transgender athlete.”

To hear more from Allums on his difficult experiences hiding his gender and how his current decision is affecting his teammates and coach, check out OutSports.com.

Now to leave you with some very positive insight from Allums himself on how society can be more open-minded aabout transgenders:

“I used to feel like trans anything was really weird and those people were crazy, and I wondered, ‘How can you feel like that?’” Allums said. “But I looked it up on the Internet and I thought, ‘Oh my god, I’m one of those weird people.’ And I realized they’re not weird. It’s all in your mindset and how you think.”

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Dude, You’re A Fag: Compulsory Heterosexuality in the Making of Masculinity

This was taken from a paper submitted in my Sociology of Gender class.  Hope it breeds some interesting discussions!  Check out this fantastic article by Michael Kimmel, sociologist and historian of masculinity, for his analysis of the recent gay suicides.

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Zach Harrington

On October 10, 2010, National Coming Out Day, another homosexual teenager, Zach Harrington, took his life after a night of repeated bullying.  Harrington’s tragic death is part of a larger trend of recently publicized homosexual teen suicides as the result of bullying.  Publicity surrounding their deaths has helped spread awareness about the issue of violence in schools and has given hope to thousands of homosexual teenagers through such aid organizations as the It Gets Better Project and The Trevor Project.

News articles and websites repeat their names and stories: Justin Aeberg, Billy Lucas, Cody Barker, Asher Brown, Seth Walsh, Tyler Clementi…yet, despite the obvious pattern of predominantly male aggressors and victims, discussions have focused on homophobia as the root of the attacks.

By examining the homophobic harassment these young men endured at t

he hands of mostly white heterosexual men, it becomes apparent that heterosexuality, masculinity, and power are linked.  The use of homophobic epithets, physical violence, and sexist remarks by white heterosexual boys serve as a form of gender policing to reinforce masculine dominance.

While the main goal of these projects is to prevent suicidal teenagers from taking their lives, dialogue about their harassment has revealed how commonplace homophobic bullying actually is.  After spending a year at a California high school, C. J. Pascoe, in her book Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School argues that in using such homophobic epithets as “gay” and “fag” towards other heterosexual males, straight boys “repudiate the specter of failed masculinity” and reinforce their masculinity and power over other men, homosexuals, and women.

By interviewing male and female students, along with teachers and school officials, Pascoe shows how this process of masculinity is not only harmful to homosexuals, but all members of the social order, as it prevents the development of multiple masculinities, genders, and sexualities.

Although these hypermasculine actions have been identified as virulent homophobia or dismissed as “boys being boys,” Pascoe’s work reveals how institutions are integral in influencing young adults to embrace these traditional gender norms and heterosexism, as this praxis of masculinity is reinforced through school rituals, pedagogy, discipline, and the ignorance of the damaging effects of bullying.

Chapter 3: Adolescent Male Homophobia

In this chapter Pascoe shows how the fag trope is used as a temporary identity to police heterosexual masculinity.

Its fluidity is powerful enough that boys police their behaviors “out of fear of having the fag identity permanently adhere and definitive enough so that boys recognize a fag behavior and strive to avoid it” (Pascoe 54).  Students responses to the use of “fag” clearly demonstrate the performance and accomplishment of gender, as boys “performed” male effimancy for laughs but quickly reinforced their own “correct” masculinity (Pascoe 61).

When called a fag, a boy immediately thrust the fag “hot potato” onto another boy to reaffirm his own masculinity.  Pascoe states that “gay” is gender-neutral and regularly deployed by both girls and boys against both people and inanimate objects.  The use of “fag,” on the other hand, demonstrates a gendered homophobia which equates effeminacy with powerlessness.

Racialized Contexts of “Fagness”

Although male students were quick to define faggotry and label others as faggots, Pascoe reveals how its definition was racially-specific depending on its context.  According to white boys, “fags cared about the style of their clothes, wore tighter clothes, cared about cleanliness,” and danced (Pascoe 60-61).

Although African American boys privileged stylistic dress and were renowned for their excellent dance skills, the fag epithet did not apply to them.  Pascoe interestingly compares the treatment of the openly white, gay dancer Ricky to the African American dancer K. J.  While both were very talented and both carefully crafted their dancing outfits, K. J. was lauded by the crowd for his obvious connection to hip hop, while Ricky was ostracized for his “faggness” (Pascoe 76).

Pascoe insightfully notes, “Precisely because African American men are so hypersexualized in the United States, white men are, by default, feminized, so white was a stand-in for fag among many of the African American boys at River High” (Pascoe 71).  Despite blacks’ limited use of the term “fag,” Pascoe states that African American boys were punished more frequently for engaging in fag discourse (Pascoe 76).

Chapter 4: Compulsive Heterosexuality

Pascoe argues that when boys sexually objectify, sexualize, or simply flirt with girls, they are reinforcing their own heterosexuality and protecting themselves from the fag hot potato.

By discussing how they could manipulate girls’ bodies, to “break their walls,” make them fart, orgasm, or defecate, as well as their actual physical manipulation of girls bodies through teasing or flirting, boys demonstrated dominance over the world around them (Pascoe 86).  These stories bolstered gender stereotypes of women’s bodies as out of control and reinforced men’s objectification and master over women.

Conclusion

More than ever, Dude, You’re a Fag proves deeply relevant to our current dialogue of homophobic bullying and the resulting teen suicides.  Less than two weeks before Harrington committed suicide he had spoken at a public hearing to declare October his city’s gay history month.

Although Harrington imagined more acceptance from the hearing’s adult attendees after years of being bullied by young boys, the council meeting quickly became “a place where the same sentiments that quietly tormented him in high school were being shouted out and applauded by adults the same age as his own parents.”[4] Nikki, Zach’s older sister who also attended the meeting, stated:

“‘When we talk about our feelings in a hypothetical way and we send our toxic thoughts out in a public setting that way, they will affect people in a negative way…People need to think about the things they are saying and ask themselves, ‘Is this right?’”[5]

Harrington’s case reveals the ultimate consequences of allowing such heteronormative and sexist performances of masculinity to continue in high school—after receiving years of positive feedback from other males and having their sexism and homophobia ignored or reinforced by school officials, young continue this toxic cycle of masculinity on into adulthood.

**If you have an encouraging message you would like to share with teenagers via the It Gets Better Project, click here.**

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