Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Who’s the One Being Divisive?

By Tripp Gustin

Michael Patrick makes a select few good points in his opinions article “Sexuality Not So Divisive,” but is hardly being as helpful to the gay community as he seems to think.

Ultimately, it boils down to a rant about how gay people, especially public figures like Perez Hilton and Adam Lambert, need to stop acting so … gay. It’s not as if all gay celebrities are flashy and flamboyant – he names several himself, such as Ellen Degeneres, Neil Patrick Harris, and countless other musicians, politicians, actors and celebrities who are virtually indistinguishable from their straight counterparts in behavior.

I would say that the Chris Crockers and Lady Gagas of the world are the vast minority compared to those that do behave in “heteronormative” ways (not to be confused with whatever “normal” seems to mean to Patrick).

But even so, are gay kids who don’t behave in a way that’s considered “normal” not allowed to have role models? Are those fabulous few not allowed to feel comfortable being themselves, because other people have a problem with it? Who needs individuality when you have the wonders of conformism?

I hope Patrick realizes that “normal” is an imaginary standard that doesn’t exist, at least not in the objective way that he’s using it.

I would say that plenty of “straight” behaviors aren’t normal – wearing Nike Tempos in the freezing cold, for example. But should those who do that stop acting that way because I don’t understand it, or because it doesn’t fit in with what I consider to be “normal” behavior? No – I think they should do whatever they damn well please, because that’s what makes them happy.

As a gay kid, I have to say that hearing my church tell me that all gay people are going to rot in hell, growing up hearing my conservative parents tell me how abnormal and unnatural gay people are and having other kids at my high school calling me a queer or worse made me seriously consider suicide a hell of a lot more than any gay pride parade did.

Yeah, I watched shows like “Queer As Folk” – I didn’t necessarily like them that much at the time, because the freewheeling lifestyle it often depicted was never me. But at least the people on the gay pride floats, bizarre and as unlike me as they were, looked happy. It gave me hope that no matter what “being gay” means to the individual, it’s okay.

Whether you want to have a domestic partner and adopt kids, or be some old guy cruising bars and picking up 18-year-olds, there are people who will love and support and cheer for you in a parade because they don’t care that you’re different. For them, doing what makes you happy is “normal,” not acting like other people want you to act.

Patrick himself is obviously not in support of homophobes – his article makes that much clear. However, I can’t agree with his statement that we should ignore the rantings of homophobic figureheads. Yes, silent homophobes in our society do the most direct damage against our youth … but it’s one thing to be silent and alone in your intolerant thoughts and quite another to have them validated by the media.

There is still racism in the world, but how much more of it was there in the years when it was still PC for political figures to openly spout hate, such as good ol’ Governor Wallace?

You can’t expect so many people to think for themselves or go against the norm. If the norm on TV is hate, the general opinion will mirror that … and the opposite is true as well. We’ve come a long way since the conservative backlash against homosexuality in the 80’s and 90’s, and the media and public opinion reflects that. However, we still have a long way to go.

Never make light of hatred, ignorance, intolerance and bullying. They’re a lot more deadly than a bunch of oiled-up guys wearing leather and acting weird on a float. After all, how many of those gay suicides in the past three weeks were because they watched “Queer As Folk” or attended a gay pride parade?

Tripp Gustin is a junior majoring in advertising.

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