Thursday, June 2, 2011

NOM Commenters Question Utility of Homosexuality

[TW: Homophobia, eliminationist rhetoric]

On May 24, 2011, the National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage (NOM) criticized an ABC piece featuring a waitress who was rude to a lesbian-headed family. Although, of course, lesbians, bisexuals, and gay men have such encounters with rude, intolerant folks in the real world all the time, NOM called this piece "outrageous" and "prejudiced stereotyping" implying that we don't actually ever have these experiences.

Again, to be clear, NOM was criticizing not the waitress' behavior, but ABC, for portraying an instance of lesbians being abused. NOM actually didn't denounce or condemn the waitress' behavior.

No surprise there coming out of The-Gays-Are-Oppressing-Us HQ.

So today I'm going to suggest that turning a blind eye to the odious treatment of LGB people, especially when it happens at NOM's own blog, might be a bit problematic to NOM's victim narrative. It's a problem that is likely transparent to anyone who doesn't already agree with NOM about stuff and, honestly, reasonable people who might actually agree with NOM about the marriage issue.

Following a post about the Minnesota marriage amendment, some of the usual National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage commenters suggested that homosexuality does nothing for society except spread disease.

Mike Brooks, for instance, opined:

"I don't think there's a coalition of hate [opposing same-sex marriage], but I do think that heterosexuality and its procreational capacity is pretty special in contrast to homosexuality and its capacity to do nothing. Oh, wait, it's pretty good at spreading disease."

Commenter Mary Ann added:

"I'm trying to honestly consider social and natural benefits that homosexuality contributes to society...and I can't think of one. Interesting. I never thought about it that way."

While Michael Ejercito joined the chorus:

"...[I]f gay people were belittled for over a thousand years, they must have been doing something wrong, otherwise they would not be belittled."

Let's see here. Homosexuality contributes nothing but disease to society and gays deserve whatever abuse they get. Got it.

First off, here's a Helpful Hint for those definitely-not-bigots who question the social utility of homosexuality: Given the fact that homosexual behavior has existed among humans (and animals) for thousands of years, I encourage those who are genuinely interested in How Homosexuality Contributes To Society to do some basic research, perhaps using the Wikipedia article on the topic as a starting point. I don't necessarily agree with everything in that article, but if one were sincere in wanting to know whether homosexuality has social utility, one might do more than expect gay people to show up at anti-equality sites to present evidence for that proposition.

Two, my main point with this post is that what conversations like these do is put lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people in the position of having to justify our existences and relationships. If we think about the larger implications within this conversation, things can become quite scary for LGB people rather quickly.

Imagine- LGB people typically view our sexual identities as integral to our identities and often view the right to enter into same-sex romantic and sexual relationships as a large part of what it means to possess human dignity and autonomy.

Yet, here, within this nook of Internet, we have folks expressing a view that is, frankly, quite common among those who oppose equal rights for LGB people: The notion that who we fundamentally are does nothing for society except produce negative outcomes.

I have written before how it doesn't take a huge leap of logic to go from "x group of people contribute nothing to society except disease" to "and that's why they have to die."

And, whether or not the typical anti-gay person favors the literal extermination of LGB people, I do strongly believe that many anti-gay people believe the world would be a better place if homosexuality did not exist and, accordingly, if LGB people denied who we were and instead opted for a heterosexual lifestyle.

As a case in point, on May 24, 2011, NOM also posted its own helpful hint, with little additional commentary that: "We already know that there are still gay people entering opposite sex marriages, at least sometimes even after identifying as gay."

Yes, and? No one at NOM brave enough to make that implication explicit?

Probably not. For, the idea that LGB people should Just Enter Into Hetero Marriages, of course, also constitutes extermination, albeit of a different type- the eradication of homosexual behavior rather than persons, from society.

Because of these regular slips of the civility mask, I continue to believe that it would be unwise and unsafe for LGB people and our allies to assume that the majority of anti-gay folks would oppose measures as drastic as imprisonment or death for homosexuality. That's why I think it's important to express disappointment in what is perhaps the most prominent and active opponent of marriage equality in the US- the National Organization for Marriage- for fostering an online atmosphere where such conversations about the social utility of homosexuality are accepted as just a regular part of civil dialogue.

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