Why It’s Difficult to Blog About Communicating Homosexual Stereotypes

September 30th, 2011 | Categories: Sexual Orientation

When I write a blog about communicated gay stereotypes, I often second guess my interpretation. I know the stereotype is there, but writing a blog about stereotypes requires disinterest and evidence based definitiveness that is often elusive in homosexual stereotypes.

Other stereotypes are more clear, simple, and target a single characteristic or aspect of the group being targeted: Blacks play basketball. Mexicans are lazy. Whites are racist.

Granted, there are stereotypes of homosexuals that are also this clear and simple: Gays are effeminate. Lesbians are butch. But that’s basically it.

In contrast, I could talk on and on about the simple stereotypes of other groups: Blacks also like watermelon and are good athletes. Mexicans also have large families and eat rice and beans. Whites also are rich and smell like wet dogs.

But these stereotypes are qualitatively different than the remaining stereotypes about homosexuals. This is because, these other stereotypes are… well, just less mean.

An overarching theme in most stereotypes of homosexuals revolves around one “characteristic.” Homosexuals are perverse. This is mean because it covers not one characteristic or aspect of who a homosexual is, but because it presumes to cover all aspects. Although homosexuality is a behavior, being a homosexual is an identity. So, to stereotype homosexuals as perverse is to characterize the identity as perverse. The stereotype says to a homosexual, “you are perverse for being who you are.”

The stereotype is also mean because it provides no outlet to escape or fight against the stereotype other than “switching teams” and engaging in heterosexual behavior or passing as if you do so. Either resolution is to deny the identity, not to enhance, develop, transcend, or embrace it. Consider the stereotypes of other groups mentioned earlier. Each of these stereotypes, if internalized by a target group member, could be shunned by changing behavior if the target was able to do so (not that they should). But, not the stereotype of homosexuals as perverse.

There is one other reason this stereotype is mean. That is because rather than reducing its likelihood of being communicated, that this particular stereotype is mean fosters its being communicated in how people talk about and respond to homosexuals or discussions about homosexuals. First, people may not want to view themselves as mean even if they hold that belief and, so, may communicate the stereotype in subtle ways without even registering the root stereotype they perpetuate by doing so. Second, because it is communicated in such subtle ways people may not even notice the stereotype when it is communicated. Third, even if people notice it despite its subtlety, people may be reluctant to call attention to this stereotype because they may not want to accuse someone of being that mean (e.g., “excuse me, but did you just say that person is a perverse human being?).

So writing a blog about homosexual stereotypes is difficult because ultimately, the overarching stereotype against homosexuals is … well, mean. Writing this blog is difficult because: 1) I am hesitant to speak overtly about the stereotype that homosexuals are perverse and inadvertently give it credibility. 2) I know it will be hard to make my argument about something so subtle. 3) Frankly, I don’t even want to admit that this stereotype is out there in the world being communicated regularly.

Consider the news that all major news sources are reporting about.
Southwest Lesbian Kiss Gets ‘L Word’ Actress Leisha Hailey Kicked Off Flight

How extreme would a heterosexual kiss have needed to be for other passengers on the plane to consider it “excessive” and complain? For a heterosexual couple to be approached about it? For it to warrant a heterosexual couple being “escorted” off a plane?

In her defense, Leisha Hailey tweeted, “Since when is showing affection to someone you love illegal?” It seems the former “The L Word” actress doesn’t realize or doesn’t want to draw attention to the stereotype either. Showing affection wasn’t what she was doing. Especially on a “family” friendly airline, the kiss was “excessive,” worthy of complaint, and the airline was justifiable in having the offenders escorted off the plane. According to the stereotype communicated by those on the plane, she was being perverse.

The same reason that it is difficult for me to write a blog about homosexual stereotypes is the same reason it is going to be difficult for Leisha Hailey to defend herself. Leisha is being too subtle, but I know why. The homosexuals are perverse stereotype is… well, just too mean to communicate- even when you are the victim of it.



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