Friday, April 24, 2009

Perez Hilton Does Not Speak For the LGBT Community

Previously, we saw how "radicals" sometimes discount the concerns of women and use sexist language to make their points. Unfortunately, such disappointing behavior is sometimes used by others who are supposedly the natural allies of feminists and women.

Before I begin, I suppose I should disclose the fact that celebrity blogger Perez Hilton is not exactly my personal fave. I think he's basically a man who exemplifies every shallow queen* stereotype that is attached to gay men by making a pretty rich living appealing to the basest, snarkiest, superficial, and most juvenile sense of humor in people. You mean all I had to do to get rich and famous was draw ejaculating dongs over the faces of celebrities? Why didn't someone tell me this secret to success before I invested in a pricey education?

Anyway, perhaps by now you've already heard that Perez Hilton, while judging the Miss USA pageant, asked Miss California (Carrie Prejean) a question about same-sex marriage. Miss California gave a somewhat rambly answer suggesting that she opposes same-sex marriage. Now, my first thought upon hearing about this incident was pageants still exist? Oh, I should probably also mention that pageants are also pretty high up there on my list of things that are not my favorites. As a feminist, I dislike contests that promote the objectification and commodification of women's bodies and it just plain old gives me the heebie-jeebies when parents put make-up on babies. So, I suppose that when one combines Perez Hilton with Beauty Pageantry, the additive effect of Things That Annoy Me is almost too much for me to handle. Add Simon Cowell to the mix and it would be, like, the holy trinity of shallow, judgmental, snarky Annoyance.

But I digress. The point here is that Miss California opposes same-sex marriage. Yawn, right? Big deal. Lots of people oppose it. I disagree with them, but they're entitled to their opinions. I just don't think it's a national scandal for someone to casually mention her semi-articulate opposition to same-sex marriage in between changing into her evening gown and swimwear. I only say that because Miss California, who attends a biblical creationism college and is studying special education, has about as little authority on the issue as does gossip blogger and internet artiste Perez Hilton.

However, Miss California's answer angered Perez Hilton and he's turned his anger into quite the public display. While I can completely understand his anger, I strongly condemn his subsequent statements. In a totally unproductive and unfortunate move, Hilton called Miss California a "dumb bitch," apologized, later retracted his apology, and then added that he was really thinking that Miss California was the "c word." Klassy.

Liberal men, especially gay men, should know better than to call women bitches and cunts. *And speaking of which, why is it that when gay men are mean, they're likened to women (eg- "bitchy queen"). Misogynistic weapons have no place in the public discourse whether they're aimed at men, women, or those who oppose Very Important Liberal Causes like LGBT Rights. Advocacy for LGBT equality is important but to many people, Vagina-Americans especially, it's not the most important issue. Not only are many people fighting oppression on multiple fronts but gay men would do better to remember that sexism is the root of much of the homophobia they themselves face. After all, a big reason it's "bad" for gay guys to be "fags" is because to be a fag is to be like a woman and, in our society that overvalues masculinity, to be woman-like is a bad thing.

Like everyone, Perez Hilton is entitled to think whatever he wants about anyone. Sure, privately go on and think that women are bitches and cunts because they disagree with you. But deal with that anger, reflect on it, and come back and speak into the microphone when you have something more productive to say. Because frankly, when Perez Hilton speaks he needs to realize he has a national platform whether the likes it or not. Unfortunately, in our society, those who say the most outrageous, inflammatory, and divisive statements are often given the largest bullhorns. And, perhaps because millions of Americans themselves are angry and hurting, much like problem eaters raiding the fridge in the middle of the night, they delight in feeding off the poison that such personalities spew on a daily basis.

I think that Perez Hilton probably does feel the pain that many of us feel in being denied equal rights. However, our own pain is never an excuse to inflict pain or violence on others. It's human nature to want to lash out and punish those who have hurt us, and I do say that with full acknowledgment of my own human errors in this regard, but ultimately it comes full circle. Not only does he set back the cause, as does everyone on any side of an issue who lets their anger get the better of themselves, we can all be confident that the cycle of violence will return to us when anti-gays use him as an example of how the Angry Gay Mobs Are So Mean and Therefore Don't Deserve Equal Rights Anyway.

I find it all very sad. So say it loud, everyone. Perez Hilton does not speak for me. He does not speak for you. And neither does Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Fred Phelps, or [insert any one of a number of highly-rewarded anti-socials].

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