Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Coming Out as Homophobic Day

New York, you did National Coming Out Day wrong. The point was to come out as gay or bisexual, not as anti-gay.

Of course, my office did Columbus Day wrong, too. Banks and government entities had the day off. Many of our vendors and clients were either closed or on half-day schedules. My office was soooo open. Notice that I did not say "productive." The halls in my office feature flat screen TVs that are usually turned to the news channels or various chat shows. This is so we're all kept updated on current events, situations that may affect traffic, how the market's doing, etc. Yesterday morning, the big event, and the talk of the office, was Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino.

Paladino was in Brooklyn on Sunday. L'Ailee and I didn't know he would be. We'd love to have done or said *something*, though it's probably best that we didn't. Where Paladino was at, women weren't allowed to go inside and listen anyway. He pitched himself as the "religious values candidate" to Orthodox Jewish men in Borough Park. In the printed prepared remarks his campaign staff passed out, he was quoted as saying, "There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual...that's not the example that we should be showing our children." He went on to say, "I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don't want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option. It isn't." He promised that he wouldn't sign "immoral" bills. His opponent Andrew Cuomo has promised to legalize same-sex marriage in New York.

He went onto the morning chat shows on Monday to dig his hole even deeperdefend himself. On Good Morning America, he claimed that he's "not a homophobic." He talked about his gay nephew, who I hope has a different last name and looks nothing like his uncle. He tried to wax sympathetic about the bullying this young man faces, then blamed it on his homosexuality rather than other peoples' reactions to it. Of course he did, because otherwise he might have had to take responsibility and perhaps examine what he's said at family reunions.

As he did at the synagogue where he spoke, he slammed Cuomo for going to a Pride parade. Paladino found a line about "grown men in Speedos grinding on each other" at the parade he's too good a Catholic to attend so intriguing that he used it on at least three networks. Of course, he doesn't hate homosexuals--he even has one on his campaign staff! (Where do all of these masochistic "homosexuals" who anti-gay bigots like to trot out when they're cornered come from, anyway?) If blame-shifting burned calories, he'd have weighed 90 pounds by noon.

Paladino's remarks are easy for me to condemn. They're part of a general pattern of being an ass. (How's that for objectivity?) He is running for governor of my state. If elected, he'd be making decisions about my, my wife's, and several of our friends' lives, and he wouldn't decide in our favor. But some calls are a little bit harder to make.

We office drones needed to be rewarded for all the voice mail messages, "out of office" e-mails, and Paladino slime we were getting. A couple of executives decided that we should be allowed to turn the TVs to the hockey games being played Monday afternoon. Of course, it just so happens that they're huge New York Rangers fans, and that team was playing the New York Islanders at 1 pm. (The two New York teams have a vicious long-standing rivalry, and the Islanders in particular love those holiday matinee games.) Even the non-hockey fans liked it better than the news. I heard more of the game than I saw. Since I hate the Rangers with an undying hate, I enjoyed hearing their fans cuss in the first period as the Isles went 2-1.

Then I heard about "the gesture." I started reading about it on Twitter, too. The Isles' James Wisniewski and the Rangers' Sean Avery got into a dispute. After some shouting, Wisniewski made a very evocative and NSFW sign that looked like giving a hummer in Avery's direction. You can see it here. It was replayed in slow motion, too, so that all the drones and people waiting at the doctor's office and kids watching at home could get a real good look. My entire office got into a debate over it, which totally boosted productivity, let me tell you. Rangers fans were, in general, more upset than Islanders fans.

But I'm a Penguins fan. My positions for free speech and LGBT civil rights butted heads on this. I thought it was tacky as hell. I don't expect the Islanders' players to know it was National Coming Out Day, but most people in the NYC area know about the gay men in the Bronx who were tortured by a gang last week, as well as the many recent suicides among LGBT teenagers. Also, unlike a finger given by one NASCAR driver to another, children at the event could clearly see it. (NASCAR drivers may think thoughts similar to Wisniewski's, but they wouldn't give *that* exact sign in a car--they'd wreck.)

Wisniewski will almost certainly be fined and/or suspended--Sean Avery was for saying that another player had been with his "sloppy seconds." It would only be fair, going by NHL precedent. But I'm not sure that Avery should've been punished. I say this as one of the many hockey fans who hates Avery--he's based his career on being a pest, and is the kind of player you only like when he's on your team. Hockey is a physical game where players stand an excellent chance of getting hurt on any given night. Emotions run high and players let off steam. They cuss in multiple languages, and they trash-talk just to distract the one with the puck. They reach right for the sexual insults. As a fan, I wouldn't want any of that to change. The game itself would be different, and not nearly as much fun to watch, if it did.

Wisniewski most likely didn't mean to insult all gay and bi men at a particularly bad time, although he accomplished that. He didn't think about the young boys--straight, bi, and gay--who were watching him. He didn't consider that there might be gay and bi male fans, such as our friend A., who took his 9-year-old daughter to the Pittsburgh Penguins/New Jersey Devils game in Newark later this afternoon. When S., his husband, goes with them to the arena, their daughter knows to refer to him by his first name or as "Da's friend," not his husband or her stepfather.

No, probably Wisniewski wanted only to get inside his opponent's head. He needed to out-pest a notorious pest. The fact that he felt calling Avery queer would be effective is more of a problem than the actual gesture. More knowledgeable writers than myself, such as Justin Bourne, have called for changing the culture. That's a hard row to hoe, considering the state of the rest of our culture. It's going to take a lot of things, including fans saying "That's not right". So here I am, saying "That's not right," though nobody will hear it. This is the point of Coming Out Day. We speak our truth and hope that somebody will listen.

By the way, the Islanders beat the Rangers, 6-4. Then the Penguins beat the Devils 3-1. And that's what really counts, right?

Links, links:

Coming out at work, or, "Be gay over there"

The Insane Clown Posse has been a couple of born-again Evangelical Christians all along. Boy, they hate science. And boy, they've got issues. This will tell you what the "Miracles" song--"Fuckin' magnets, how do they work?"--was about. One of my younger cousins used to listen to them because his fundamentalist Christian parents hated them. I'd love to know what he thinks of this.

A male college student managed to drug most of the female guests with rohypnol at a party. Twelve women ended up having to go to the hospital. Because they are under 21, they may end up being expelled for drinking alcohol.

A USA Today travel writer claims that bedbugs are no big deal, really.

Finally, 20 real, hilarious, and unfortunate company names around the world.


bluzdude said...

Aww, man... you got to watch hockey at work!

I had to DVR the Pens game and watch it later.

BTW, there's another anti-gay, anti-women episode that bubbled to the surface in yesterday's news (around here.) I posted on it here:

Eugene said...

One website that deserves an honorable mention on that list of unfortunate company names is whorepresents.com. It's actually "who represents" (as in agents for celebrities) but when the words run together in the url it appears to be something considerably different...

Unknown said...

I am clearly naive and clearly unaware of the hassling that LGBT people have to deal with just for being LGBT. I was particularly struck by your comments about your friend whose daughter calls her stepfather by his first name when they are out. I am truly astonished that there are enough stupid people in the world that means action like this is necessary. My social conscience has been tweaked.

Raven said...

I'm so sick of religious conservatives pushing their anti-gay agenda in the political realm. It's maddening. And insulting. And it has no place in politics. Religious organizations should stay out of politics, or be taxed!

Dr. Deb said...

I couldn't believe the coverage content of the day in NYC. You're right. They got it wrong!

Juli said...

I don't understand how candidates like Paladino can be running for office. That's not right. So sad about what happened to those guys in the Bronx.