The End of Gay Apathy

May 20, 2009
Category: Politics

I have watched this entire Miss California episode with equal moments of disbelief, disgust, and complete disinterest, but now my over-stimulated media-hijacked brain is thinking something quite different.  That this means something… this is important.

Unless you don’t follow gay, or any, news at all, you know that the runner up to the Miss U.S.A. pageant, Carrie Prejean, recently may have lost due to an answer she gave celebrity blogger Perez Hilton regarding her beliefs/stance/opinion regarding gay marriage.  She went biblical, Perez went ape shit, and what should have been a thirty second piece on Access Hollywood has turned into a media, and now cultural, firestorm.  She has now completely overshadowed the winner by surfing her polarizing answer through the choppy media waters, making a connection with the National Organization for Marriage (who already had their own problems), and has now come under fire from the Miss California Organization who thought her communication breakdown with them was a little too biting the hand that feeds and blew the whistle that yep, they paid for her Miss U.S.A competing fake breasts.  And then the nudie pics surfaced.

I’ve followed the whole sordid tale and have read a LOT of opinions on the whole topic.   Who is hurting gay marriage equality more, Carrie Prejean or Perez Hilton?  How unfortunate that a nasty blow-hard like Hilton is the spokesperson for us and this important human rights issue.  How this is a free speech issue, shouldn’t she have the right to her (religious) opinion?  How she represents not only the majority of the State of California, but the country, and also has the same stance on this issue as the current Secretary of State as well as our President, Barrack Obama.  And how much of a moron she is because regardless of her religious beliefs as they pertain to the issue, she stumbled over her answer, incorrectly stating that most of us actually have a CHOICE of gay marriage, and also introducing a new term, “opposite marriage,” which is, in a way, related to, such as, “The Iraq.”  Jeez… we need a map to navigate all of this.

So as the talking heads churn this to death and keep this as the story that will not die, it occurred to me just how important this whole thing is.  That this crazy seemingly innocuous event actually signals that we are at the precipice of something huge…  here we are at the tipping point of a cultural shift that may prove that it is no longer acceptable to be publicly homophobic.  It is impossible not to see the connections between this moment in gay civil rights and important moments within the Civil Rights Movement.  We now take it for granted that a Miss U.S.A. contestant would never even THINK of making a statement like, “My beliefs, and how I was raised, forbid me to stand by interracial marriage.”  And while Ms. Prejean has come out to say she has many gay people in her life and is not trying to “offend” anyone, what we all know is that her stance on gay marriage still makes us an “other.”  And until the Unites States laws on interracial marriage was changed by the Supreme Court in 1967, those laws still kept the unfortunate mindset that the African American was also an “other.”

I believe this entire discussion, and the slamming of her (as well as Hilton,) are ultimately tied to an “enough-is-enough” feeling from the gay members of this society.  Post Stonewall, and the little advancements the movement has managed to do in the decades since have all been important, but the passing of Proposition 8 was the first big step BACK we’ve had.  We’ve been accustomed to the uphill battle, and the baby steps, but Prop 8’s win has been our biggest loss to date, and I argue that that has been the end of gay apathy.  We’re not taking it anymore, and we’re refusing to let people hide behind religion on this issue.  When gay journalist Rex Wockner interviewed Carrie Prejean shortly after the storm started he asked her; “Are we having a moment?” Are we at this time in our cultural history when it will no longer be socially acceptable to be homophobic?  She couldn’t answer that, of course, because of what she and others on her fundamentalist crusade know: We ARE having that moment.

And when the Miss California Organization let out the truth that they paid for her breast implants and most recently nude photos emerged (which is against Miss America policy) it’s become the fruit pie in Anita Bryant’s face...  this all proves that something big is happening in our culture that could affect all of our lives much sooner than later.  Not only are we no longer letting public figures make homophobic stances, we are taking great measures to insure that someone else might think twice of doing the same.  That this beauty pageant contestant is literally the last of what this fundamentalist movement has to offer is huge.  We’re all used to hearing about long roads on issues like this, and if the history of human civilization should be given any weight, these religious arguments will continue to be fought for years if not centuries to come.   But the future is NOW brothers and sisters… because despite this uproar coming from “just a pageant contestant” it is, like it or not, part of the silly culture we come from.  It holds weight.  Ultimately she didn’t take the crown… she is number two.  NUMBER TWO.

And that sound you hear is “the other,” taking the win.

Tags: Gay Marriage
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Post written by Cyrus (View Author Profile)
About this author: Writer, DJ, driven, and clueless... I'm still just trying to work it all out, and hope I never do.
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You pose the question whether this is a "free speech" issue, and whether Prejean shouldn't have the right to express her religious opinion. The answer is that yes, she has a right both to hold her opinion and to speak her opinion, and neither of these rights is being abridged. Prejean does not, however, have a legal 'right' to be Miss U.S.A.

Prejean is not being jailed for holding or stating her (biogted) opinion, nor is she facing any governmentally-imposed legal sanctions or prohibitions for either holding or stating her opinion. She is not facing loss of life, or imprisonment, or loss of any legal rights, such as the right to legally marry the person she loves, or the right to receive pension benefits upon the death of her spouse, or prejudicial tax treatment of receiving insurance benefits through her partner's employer, or the right to adopt---to name just a few of the REAL legal obstacles and economic disparities that gays and lesbians face.

Freedom of religion and freedom of speech are constitutional issues, not social issues. What Prejean is facing is social opprobium for (very, very) publicly stating her bigoted social views, akin, as you correctly point out, to saying that her upbringing does not allow her to support interracial or interfaith marriages. The consequences she is facing are social consequences, not legal ones. Losing a Miss U.S.A title is neither a legal consequence, nor an infringement of her rights.

Editorial comment: Third paragraph, I think you meant to say 'sordid tale' not 'sorted tale'. Or perhaps you meant 'sordid tail' as pertains to Prejean.

Thanks for saving me the trouble of pointing out Cyrus' "sordid" error. (Can we spin that as a typo, Dubya-style?) Nice touch, though, the "Number Two" euphemism we all learned as children, for what this poor bimbo/child's brain is filled with. Forgive the preposition.

Your views are, naturally, U.S. based, and as an Englishman who was out on those Gay Liberation Marches in London in the 70's and HAVE seen major advances, I can only empathise with your situation, in the same way that I try to empathise with those who suffer under the weight of prohibitive regimes where our sexuality is punishable by death. For the first seven years of my active sex life, my own sexuality was punishable by two years in prison. None of these now historical advances, however, mean that we should be complacent about current events.

The Miss California episode was new to me. We don't get that kind of coverage of US news. I was, frankly, shocked. Not only by the fact that people feel free to make homophobic remarks in public but also by the fact the people are surprised that there are still homophobes around.

I live in the Netherlands now. Gay people have the same full and equal rights as the wider community, including marriage, parenting, adopting and inheriting. Does that mean the homophobes have gone away? No, of course not. Gay bashings increase around the Gay Pride weekend, City officials publicly refuse to marry same-sex couples on the grounds of their own relgious beliefs, and I have been verbally abused far more in the last seven years on the streets of Amsterdam than I ever was for the 30 years I was in London. So, the Gay bashers get punished. The City official gets fired. The verbal abusers (hopefully) grow up and get educated. The point is that even with full equality the homophobic attitudes have been aired in public once again. And they always will be. Of course we don't think that homophobic views should be acceptable. But don't we also believe in freedom of speech? Unpleasant views feel harmful but they do give us the opportunity to stand up and be counted and speak. If we spoke without just cause we would be labelled a bunch of whiners, wouldn't we? You're right, this is a great opportunity for you guys over there and I hope you make the most of it.

On a different, but related point, I don't believe that ALL gay people necessarily think that Gay marriage is a good thing. We DO all believe in equality, of course, but my personal view on marriage as an institution in the whole community is that it has had its day. That's got nothing to do with sexuality.

Hear! Hear! Very well-said; most especially your last sentence. Thank you.

Since the whole idea of Miss America contests is a colossal waste of time I don't know why anyone is so excited about it.

Prejean, thanks largely to Perez, has potentially become the new Anita Bryant..... she has received an avalanche of publicity from this debacle; she has made history....she would have been just another beauty contest babe and, deservedly, passed into the veil of contest history.
At least she didn't refer to us as "unnatural"...a wise choice for someone who is plastic from her hair roots down.
Remember that press conference after Trump defended her and allowed her to keep her crown (she owes the Donald "what" remains to be seen)? Just when you thought things could not become more surreal, Ms. Prejean took the mike and actually started crying, because she had been "punished" for her beliefs....for this privileged piece of synthetic white bread to play the Christian martyr card was just too priceless...what next? Petition the Pope for sainthood? As if she had to endure hardship....that's he thing about free speech...YOU have a right to say what you want....and other people have the right to respond....that goes for anyone with regard to any issue....that's why it's called "free speech"! Get it?
At times like this, I wish there really existed a Heaven and Hell, Perez has perform cunnilingus on Ms Prejean for eternity! She is condemned to have no one but straight hairdressers and stylists work on her...forever! That and she loses the boob job and her nose goes back to its original size.

Miss California has probably made herself a rich woman over this issue and knows exactly what she is doing. But a long blog, which probably required HOURS spend watching and reading about the issue is nothing but time lost.

The End of Gay Apathy? It would be much better to experience The End of Gay Apologism.

Perez Hilton is probably as vile a person as he appears, but whether or not he "harms" the gay marriage cause is only another shooting-selves-in-foot episode gay men need to cease and desist from. He's one of us and he had the guts to air a fair question. We don't need to "distance" ourselves from him - that's exactly what our enemies know gay men ALWAYS do... we can always be relied upon to be divided and conquered because so many of us are just gutless apologists.

Carrie Prejean is undoubtedly as disgusting a human being as she appears. But a beautiful girl playing victim can peddle an agenda of bigotry and divisive hatred like nobody on earth. And she did so most effectively with her prepared speech. She's a disgrace to Christians and unfit to represent California as anything but a satanic skank with rubber tits. Screw her right to run her foul mouth off: she is fueling hatred, dividing communities and her actions will undoubtedly create violence, hatred and more setbacks. Even if just one more gay kid is bullied in school because of her widely-covered hate-mongering it's one kid too many. Her message was clear: "If you oppose equality stand up and fight like me."

This really isn't about gay marriage or Perez Hilton or anybody else: it's about how we must see this as the propaganda which is actively swaying minds who support the laws which destroy our lives. It's appropriate to vilify and shame Carrie Prejean, but not without angrily and forcefully focusing on demanding full citizenship which is protected and policed by law.

Now it looks like both of her parents might be gay or bi and that was at least part of the reason for their divorce--which may explain her animus toward gays.

This isn't the first big setback we've had. The assassination of Harvey Milk and the passage of Amendment 2 in Colorado are other examples.

I have no doubt that the steamroller of times to come will sort it all out. The momentum of gay equality has begun to finally develope. Once one has a taste of freedom, there is no real way back. Perhaps a few checks and balances,but, it's just a matter of time. Racial equality developed in a like fashion of awkward steps, a few back, then slow, and painfully forward, Until, the blossoming of acceptance finally burst forth(not that it will ever be perfect). From where I have personally seen us come, in all this resent confusion, I believe we are alot farther along than most can grasp. I have faith, and that makes it a joy to work more towards the goal. It is the spelling & grammar Nazi's that worry me!

WHO worry me.

I have judged many prelimary pageants for different states. We are not allowed to ask any questions regarding religion or politics. I feel that Hilton may have been in the wrong on this one. Although I do not agree with her response, Prejean was simply answering the question she was asked. It is sad that Hilton has become such a "public figure" for the gay community. His biased opinions are no better than the closed minded people in my neighborhood.

Excellent post. Couldn't agree more with you about Perez Hilton - a loathsome publicity-sucking whore if there ever was one. The pageant concept is painfully anachronistic and there's no serious reason for someone like Hilton to be there except to generate controversy. And who really expects these contestants to be thoughtful or enlightened? She couldn't even articulate her own opposition to gay marriage with grace - she just started rambling on in a way that ought to make any reasonable person wince. I thought her answer was stupid and shallow, but it was just bizarre for Perez to ask the question in the context of a beauty pageant anyway.

If a straight conservative judge asked that question and got a pro-gay marriage answer AND then flunked the contestant because of it AND then went on to publicly label her a bitch and cunt...Any clue as to the response?

What galls me is that Hilton, who embodies a hemisphere of revolting gay stereotypes, gets an almost total pass from the "LGBT" community for behaving in a way that, were he on the "other side" would have had the usual suspects screaming "Nazi!" in a heartbeat.

I think it is true that us gay men are divided and conquered and can be apologists. We are quicker to condemn our own than even our enemies. I was one of those kids who was bullied to the point of serious mental breakdown, during criminalization and non accepting times and am condemned by the new generation for talking about the old days like im unpatriotic and deserved everything I got.
I find it really interesting as I grew up in awe of Americas wealth and modernity( even the mention of gay in the American media in the 70s and 80s to me I realized i wasn't the only one.)I read about gay history in the U.S recently and went to see Milk and was really surprised how recent acceptance was even in San Fransisco. But there is gay marriage in a few American states now and Im under the impression parts of America are very progressive on gay rights(But if any of you Americans know better please excuse my ignorance as I have never had the pleasure to live in your country).
I think the way you guys describe what happened Hilton should have allowed her to speak her incoherent views without over reacting ,and her ignorance and bigotry would have harmed her argument in the eyes of reasonable and fair minded Californians.Henchard , is it true that conservative migrants to Amsterdam have fueled homophobia there, or are the Dutch becoming less tolerant?Please enlighten this quite unworldly soul.

As a gay man that came out long after the 80's AIDS problems, I find this whole crusade for gay marriage, well esoteric. I do agree homosexuals should be able to have the rights of a married couple as long as the concept of living a "married life".

I am tired of hearing about how wronged this group is over that group when you see all the ugliness that still occurs in the world. I have watched as a straight male friend slept with another woman on his wedding night....and then later his bride. Do I have an issue with this...well yes. This to me slaps the whole idea of marriage in the does not matter if it had been a gay or straight marriage. I do not care if someone argues that this is a "moral" or "religious" argument. I think the shift in the "me" mentality since the 1960's has ruined many concepts for us all.

I also am tired of the argument about adoption. I believe that a gay couple should be able to raise a child and can do it just as well as a heterosexual couple...and that if sex education were taught by kids' parents instead of being left to our schools, maybe we would not have so many children than are in need of good homes, instead of being taken out of the homes of unfit teen parents. I think it is not a good home life for any child when a mate (gay or staight) is detaching themselves for a fling on the side...whether it be known by the partner or not. When you put your own wants before the "needs" of the family you thought you had to have... well, then maybe you should have thought about it a little longer. How about those couples that put material things and careers ahead of family? How many news stories have there been about kids in affluent homes that were ignored and left to their own devices or allowed to do as the please? Have we ever heard of a family called the Kennedys? Or how about the Lohan family? And why are Madonna and Angelina Jolie going to foreign countries when there are so many children here that need good homes...because the system will leave a child in foster care to be sexual abused and worse than severe the ties and allow this child at some type of normalcy.

People can argue that my ideals are that from being raised in a religious background, but whatever happenned to being a decent human being? You are always going to have someone that hates someone for something about them and how we as a society have tried to fix it. We have now begun to see cases of affirmative action that go against the entire idea of why it was set up in the first place. When the candidate that was appropriate for the position is overlooked because a "quota" is needed. There was something about firefighters that were overlooked because they were white....have we now let reverse discrimmination happen?

I guess I am tired of looking at an argument too that overlooks an increase in the cases of HIV/AIDS in young people. What have we all been fighting for if it is all going to be in vain? I met a young man in his early 20's that was HIV positive and was asked if he told his partners his status...his response was he did not since it would limit his chances for sex as he continues to do drugs and sleep with random partners. This is considered acceptable by many, but not I now an "other". I was at a gay bar in NYC where the bartender was covered in staph sores...he told the patrons that the bandages on his arms were from a friend's cat scratching him....he lied to the patrons and some of them were HIV clientele....he could have comprimise their health when they are already comprimised, but he and the management of the bar did not care as long as money was being made. He would later get patrons drunk and turn them loose on one another and watch as they had sex in a bathroom. He did not know them or the HIV/AIDS status....this to me is reprehensible. I did the correct and "moral" thing and alerted the police...but nothing was done. The apathy that this commentary speaks of is everywhere in the world community....and is just as profound in the gay/lesbian community.

Again, whether you are gay or straight, if you do nothing about the little issues, the major issues are unimportant...and no issue should every be defined by the bed partners you keep. I think as long as people choose to live without considering the consequences for their actions, nothing will change in the idea of gay marriage. Furthermore, in my opinion, you can see the issues extend into many areas that no one wants to talk about and solve before worry about THIS issue. We just passed gay marriage in Iowa...the sad part is that one of the couples that were a major proponents for it, one of the men approached me for sex...and they have a daughter too....what's the point of the marriage if this is going to be how it is...a tax credit.

Miss California is entitled to her opinion just as I am to mine and you are to yours. The privilieges and perils of a free press. We all want our freedoms but never the costs that go along with them. If she was fired for the nude photos and those are the be it. Wasn't Vanessa Williams stripped of some kind of crown for this oh so many years ago? If you know the rules and drop you dress, do it for Playboy and walk away from these pagaents and give the spot to someone who plays by the rules and quit your whining. And besides, just a thought, how much of her getting where she is was done by the help of gay people. If anything, all her statements show is how foolish a person she is in biting the hands that have gotten her where she is...amazing when a person whines about an issue without using the common sense they are suppose to have.....and yet it is always someone else's fault....

I became acquainted with Justice Sotomayor in the 90s when we served on a NYC municipal commission together. She's extremely intelligent, accomplished and very personable. I'm glad she's on the Court.

But diversity in America is NOT about difference of outlook, views or goals; its about people of different backgrounds assimilated into the same paradigm of how society should be organized and work. Ethnicity, race, sexual orientation (for so-called Liberals anyway), religion, class origins -- all are secondary or allegedly unimportant to acculturation of governing cadres, and most of the public, into the dominant perspectives and values of what most people think is the larger society, and the ruling structures and classes of this society. That is why all these people -- Obama to Huckabee, Gonzalez to Sotomayor -- have such similar educational and professional resumes wherever they came from. It's what Antonio Gramsci identified decades ago as the hegemony of successful ruling classes; their ability to generate and sustain through the institutions of civil society a set a values and aspirations that most people internalize and strive to live by, even when those values are not in their interests.

I'm bemused by gay marriage. I certainly would vote in favor of it if it was ever on the ballot here in New York State. But it would be like my having voted for David Dickins in both his runs against Rudy Giuliani for mayor of NYC -- sometimes to have to thow in with people and causes you don't much care for; otherwise you're objectively allied with reactionaries. Dinkins was no prize, but the opposition to him was overwhelmingly a racist backlash against a black candidate. I had to vote for him, like I would have to vote for gay marriage. Gay marriage is about wanting "equal rights", but what drives it is a quest for social validation, acceptance, and integration into mainstream society; a multi-cultural mainstream of course. Yet for those of us who see little value in mainstream society, its ways of life, its underlying premises and structures, who cares? Gay marriage is primarily the agenda of a particular class-fraction: those elements of the upper-middle classes who are homosexual, and for whom gay marriage is a way of consolidating their positions and privileges within that class. The easiest way to identify this demographic to the general public is to point to the hyper-consumerist "gay friendly" media products targeted toward it: "Queer Eye", "Sex and the City", "Will and Grace" and most of the output of the Bravo Channel on cable . Think about what, and who, you see on these media products and you'll have an idea of who dominates this class-fraction. A good deal of research has shown how this class-fraction and its agenda seized control of the early gay liberation movement in the 1970s (see Steve Valocchi, "The Class Inflected Nature of Gay Identiy", Social Problems, vol 46, #2, 1999 for an intro into this analysis). Gay marriage is a continuation of that process. And for those who doubt it, ask yourself the following: is it any wonder that the issue of gay marriage was first put on the map as a political cause back in the 1980s by Andrew Sullivan, the Thatcher-Bush-Iraqi War supporting gay conservative, when he was editor of The Atlantic Monthly? Not to me, anyway.

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Well Miss runner up's comments elicited the predictable outcry from those of the Politically Correct persuasion, I will not join the chorus.

I am as queer as a three dollar bill, and do not care what kind of flak the Politically Correct str8 or gay wish to dish out at me. I do not think the definition of marriage should be changed just to placate the whiners and snivelers who think they are owed something. Marriage as it has always been known has been that way since the beginning of time in every culture, and every faith, not only Christian, and here is no reason to change it. If two men or two women wish to live together, that is fine. Whatever they do in their own space is nobody's beeswax. If you want to leave your earthly possessions to your BF or GF then make up a will and have it duly notarized.

I can just see the PC's seething with rage and wishing to crucify me. Tango Sierra........