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Thursday, March 01, 2007

"Sing If You're Glad To Be Gay"

Some old Tom Robinson song is stuck in my head.

I didn't comment on the Tim Hardaway gay bashing comment the other week because I just didn't have anything fresh to say about it. I noticed TH on the Hating section of Tom the Dog's sidebar. I did note in Gay Prof's comments on the subject that I thought the Hardaway incident was a good thing because it got the topic out there. GP's best line, BTW: "I think Hardaway harbors resentment that he has a last name well suited for a gay porn star."

I am annoyed that Hardaway, and, for that matter, Isaiah Washington of Grey's Anatomy, also accused of gay bashing one of his co-stars, are black, based on the obviously faulty and naive notion on my part that, being aware of the discrimination placed on their own people, that they would be more sensitive before castigating others.

In any case, I am intrigued by three pieces of legislation that may be addressed by Congress, noted here. One is "a measure that would outlaw workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation"; I think this a no-brainer, though proving such behavior towards women and blacks, for instance, is often difficult. Even more hard to prove, unless it's as blatant as a Matthew Shepherd type of situation, is a "hate-crimes bill that would cover offenses motivated by anti-gay bias." I favor both, and both are expected to pass.

The other item in play is a bill seeking repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bans openly gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the military. The edict was established in 1993, when Bill Clinton, in pretty much his first act as President, authorized it.

I never much liked it, thinking that it created a class of people who essentially had to lie by omission about who they were. At the same time, I heard about how even being suspected as gay in the military could be very treacherous. A new wrinkle is that, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an advocacy group that supports lifting the ban, the policy is disproportionately affecting troops in key specialties:
Of 742 such dismissals in fiscal year 2005, the highest number than in any category — 49 — were medical personnel. An additional 40 were law enforcement officers, along with 14 intelligence officers, 35 infantrymen, and seven nuclear, biological and chemical warfare specialists.
This generally squares with the Government Accountability Office's 2004 study, which found that of the 9,488 service members who at that point had been discharged from the military for gay and lesbian conduct since 1993, approximately 757 — or 8 percent — "held critical occupations," meaning the kinds of jobs for which the Pentagon offers selective reenlistment bonuses. That number included 322 with "skills in an important language such as Arabic, Farsi or Korean."

So, besides the deception aspect, the policy may not be working.

I think I understand the notion of closeted gays. The imperfect parallel I can relate to is when a black person "passes" for white, and wants to hide his/her darker skinned relatives, lest someone find out the terrible secret.

But, from this vantage point, it appears that coming out is very liberating. I don't hear as many snarky comments about Ellen Degeneres as I did a few years ago: (Post 9/11/2001 sample from a particular blowhard that I will not name: "This is the second time in a row that God has invoked a disaster shortly before lesbian Ellen Degeneres hosted the Emmy Awards.") I don't know what particular disaster has supposedly befallen America now that she's hosted the Oscars.

John Amaechi, the target of Hardaway's attack, is now an official spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign's Coming Out Project, a program designed to help gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people come out and live openly.

But no one I recall has been more liberated in coming out as George Takei, Mr. Sulu from Star Trek, as seen here:



1 comment:

GayProf said...

Yeah -- It is disappointing that oppressed groups feel at liberty to oppress other oppressed groups. Empathy seems to be a difficult concept for people.