Thursday, May 13, 2010

Kagan, Oprah--I'm Sick of the Who Is Gay or Not Mudslinging

We can agree that it's wrong for straight people to go on gay hunts like Puritans looking for witches. But I also wish the gay community would look at itself and realize some of its members do the gay rights cause a disservice when they try to make people who declare themselves to be heterosexual feel ashamed for saying, "I am straight."



Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan's life
lands under the microscope. At BlogHer.com,
I recently posted "Should we care whether
or not Elena Kagan is gay
?"
You know how it goes. Someone comments on a post, and you have a bee in your bonnet. You don't disagree with what the person said about the topic, but something else that's been sitting on your head for too long starts zipping back and forth and you swat at it. This happened to me at Blogher.com when someone commented on my post about Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan and rumors that she is gay.

The person was disappointed that the Obama administration said definitively that Kagan is not gay. She wished the White House had answered "That's none of your business." So do I, but we know that's not the way of American politics or our polarizing culture.

Keep in mind that I said just yesterday on Twitter that I "gave myself a headache ranting about folks speculating over Kagan's sexual orientation." I went off talking over the issue with my adult daughter. So, while I cut my commentary short at BlogHer.com, here is what I wanted to say there.

Yes, It Would Be Nice (if we could say none of your business), But No Dice

You share my daughter's opinion that the Obama administration should have said "it's none of your business" regarding Kagan. However, as I explained to her and you have said and as we can see by the lives of people such as Clay Aiken and Oprah, the "none of your business" response doesn't work like it should. People pick and pick and pick. In Kagan's case, too much is at stake to let political operatives on both sides turn her nomination into a debate about don't ask, don't tell or gay pride.

I get that people are afraid to stand up and say "I am not gay" once a rumor like this starts because the denial can then be twisted, making it appear that they are saying that there's something wrong with being gay. This is why Oprah Winfrey tried to avoid commenting on the gay rumors about her and Gayle for so long. This is where I say I was angry at Rosie O'Donnell for not telling Howard Stern , "You know, it's none of your business, Howard," when he asked Rosie about Oprah's sexual orientation last year.

African-Americans sometimes get into this kind of debate with who might be black speculation. The subject becomes painful when dealing with racists who claim black people are inferior. So, black people pull out responses such as "Well, what about W.E.B. Dubois?" They start rattling off the names of smart or talented black folk."

At this point their antagonists may challenge with data about the number of drops of black blood the person named had and then attribute any intelligence to white blood instead. Or they will declare that the person named was not actually black, as often happens if defenders of blackness name a figure from ancient history or tries to claim the Egyptians. They might shut up racists if they switch to naming Nubian conquerers, but not for long because if one group only feels superior by downing another group they don't give up in the face of facts.

What do these debates tell us? Consider Tiger Woods and blackness. Does it matter? Trying to claim people who don't want to be claimed is as much about your insecurities as it is theirs. And if a gifted or powerful person proudly claims to be black, does that acknowledgement mean anything to people who want to believe black people are inferior? They have eyes that refuse to see life differently. Their ears most likely tune out facts that negate their beliefs as well.

People who want to devalue others based on race or sexual orientation are not easily swayed with information like "so and so is ______ like me." Take it from someone who's heard white people say too often, "But we're not talking about you. You're not like those other black people."

The thing about sexual orientation, however, unlike race, when discussing Tiger Woods or Lena Horne, Barack Obama, New Orleans black Creoles or Jesus, is bloodlines tell it all. Facts are facts when it comes to who is and who is not of African descent. DNA, to my knowledge, does not accurately reveal sexual orientation. So, unless the person makes a point to tell you he or she is gay or to project to the world some caricature of homosexuality, sexual orientation does not announce itself as African blood usually does by increased melanin in the skin and hair texture.

Frankly, I'm kind of sick of the whole name that gay person insanity. I think anti-gay gossips need to stop trying to out gay people to score political points, and I think gay activists should stop playing this game as well.

The only time I think it's okay to out a person is when gay activists out closeted politicians who are hypocrites, meaning they vote for discriminatory laws and policies by day and so slam the GLBT community, but cruise by night for gay lovers. Despicable.

However, for everyone else I say that if you choose to keep your sexual orientation to yourself, then that's your right to do so. If you choose to announce it, whether gay or straight, that is also your business. We can agree that it's wrong for straight people to go on gay hunts like Puritans looking for witches. But I also wish the gay community would look at itself and realize some of its members do the gay rights cause a disservice when they try to make people who declare themselves to be heterosexual feel ashamed for saying, "I am straight."

It's just wrong to want your right to declare your sexual orientation as a gay person and rightfully face no stigma for doing so, but then to turn around and penalize a straight person who does the same. I've been annoyed looking at some gay rights sites that claim certain historical figures are gay for the sake of "gay like us" points when those statements are not based on the person's diaries or well-documented information. They are instead the website's producer presenting as fact what the historical record reveals was rivals of that historic person spreading rumors to ruin a career. We could go centuries saying it doesn't matter because there's nothing wrong with being gay, but is it ever okay to promote lies and misinformation?

I have been of the same opinion when Afrocentrists declare historic figures to be African or to have black blood based on questionable evidence, sometimes outright fabrication. I think it weakens our celebrations of our heritage.

In addition, I think gay activists do the gay rights cause a disservice when they publicly hound entertainers and other public figures, excluding political hypocrites, who are in the closet to come out. You can't make others love themselves.

I wish we could say "none of your business" to all who question sexual orientation and that would be enough, but sorry; humans in American aren't there yet. Until then, can't we let fact be fact and self-declarations stand on this topic?

Of course, I come from a time when girls could walk down the street together holding hands and giggling in each other's ears, and nobody questioned why they liked each other. Now I hear same sex teen friends are afraid to show each other affection in public because that will only lead to their being ostracized at school, which is why the Boondocks video, "No Homo" is both amusing and sad.

I may be shot from both sides on this one, but that's life.

Nordette Adams is a BlogHer CE & you can find her other stuff through Her 411.

1 comment:

le0pard13 said...

Hear, hear. Thanks, Nordette.