Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Homophobia Who Is Responsible

I found this video at the  Advocate. 

Approximately 15 youths physically and verbally taunted a gay man as he was leaving Twin Cities Pride in Minneapolis on Saturday, in an incident captured on video.

The Somali youths asked the man if he was gay, and when he responded yes, the young people yelled "I hate gay people" and reportedly threw rocks at the man, whose name is not known.

On the video various youths can be heard saying "I hate gay people" repeatedly, along with "Gay is not the way" and "Fuck gay people. They can go fuck each other."

About one minute into the video, a police officer can be seen walking through the crowd of young people.

The man who was taunted walked away, telling the kids, "See how I'm not scared at all?"

Let me start by saying that no one deserves this kind of treatment.  People should be able to walk down the street without being harassed for who or what they are

You will note that the author of the piece took great care to point out that the youth gang that was attacking this man were Somali, without any discussion as to why homophobia continues to be such an issue on the African continent.  Homosexuality is considered a perversion engaged in by whites and Blacks that are gay are viewed as internalizing White values. 

When Africans react in a homophobic matter much of the basis of such beliefs stem from colonialism.  When they move westward and see that a GLB identity is once again understood as white there is no reason for them to consider changing their thought patterns. Many African Americans were offended by the commentary of Dan Savage post prop 8 and yet he still continues to appear in the mainstream media as a prominent voice of the GLB community.

Another point worth noting is that some of these children are prepubescent.  They are claiming to hate an identity they may very well become as their sexuality becomes apparent to them.  Everything that they have been taught reifies heterosexuality as good.  In a world that values the expression of power and privilege, the young learn very early that oppressing others is often considered a positive manifestation of all of the dehumanizing lessons that we teach them. 

When the police officer noticed their behaviour and did not intervene, what did they learn but that it is appropriate to harass someone for their sexual identity?  Imagine if these same black youths were publicly taunting a white male with the exclusion of sexuality; I believe it is fair to assume at that point law enforcement would intervene as whiteness is above question in our society unless it is mitigated by a spoiled identity i.e homosexuality.

I worry when I see images like this that it will further cement the divide in GLBT issues when it comes to race and sexuality.  There is no doubt that an intersection exists, however people of color are not uniquely homophobic as often projected by the elite HRC crowd.  What happened to this man was wrong and inexcusable but it is the result of a society that is determined to see difference as unequal. 

These children have been failed by their parents, the education system and every other agent of socialization.  It is easy to look at what happened and feel rage because this man should not have been attacked, however I feel the anger would be misplaced if it is targeted solely at these children.  They are a product of our society and if we feel anger, it should be at the way that we have failed to endow them with a sense of value.  Each and every single person matters and until we can pass this message on to our children, we are avoiding the most basic lesson in how to be a decent human being.