Monday, March 29, 2010

Deconstructing the American Closet

There are days I wake up and ask myself "Why the hell is America, in 2010, still so homophobic?"

All the discussion about Don't Ask, Don't Tell has had me thinking about this issue lately. While the President and most esteemed military leaders have come out in favor of repeal, there are others in the military who claim that having openly gay servicemen would destroy cohesion or make others feel uncomfortable. I really see no rational difference between this and claims of being uncomfortable around African Americans or Latinos. The military needs to grow up and hold itself to a higher standard.

On another note- today, Puerto Rican pop musician Ricky Martin came out about his homosexuality. He had this to say:
...I decided to move on with my life not sharing with the world my entire truth. Allowing myself to be seduced by fear and insecurity became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sabotage. Today I take full responsibility for my decisions and my actions...
...These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn't even know existed...
...I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.
Many of us could have guessed that Ricky Martin was gay, so why is this such a big issue? Why do we live in a world where homosexuals even need to "come out?" In Martin's words (I encourage you to read them all), we find an intense fear and sense of social pressure that drives many to keep quiet. It also brings to mind other celebrities that have been finding refuge in the "Glass Closet," where society is aware of one's sexual orientation yet no declaration has been made. Some, like American Idol runner-up, Adam Lambert, have recently come out officially. I commend him for doing so.

The current culture of "coming out" and the discussion of Don't Ask, Don't Tell should remind us of how far we have yet to come with regard to civil rights. We mustn't use the 1960s civil rights legislation or the 2008 General Election (during which Proposition 8 passed) to assume a state of arrival. We are far from the promised land.

In so many regards, whether it be economic justice for minorities and women, or civil rights for our GLBT citizens, the fight for civil rights in America is still alive.

I have a dream, that one day America will respect the marriages of all consenting adults, that Notre Dame will formally protect and respect its GLBT students and workers, and that our children will grow up in a world where the American closet is an antique in our history books.

Until then, fight on!


Kelly Smith said...

Hank, right on! Homophobia still runs rampant even on "liberal" campuses. We have a long way to go...but I have hope :)

Sara Bega said...

I agree completely. Nice post, Henry.

Charlie said...

Nice post, Henry! I agree, why do homosexuals even need to "come out?" Hopefully someday we won't wake up to news of another celebrity coming out because it won't be such a big deal anymore.

ShamRockNRoll said...

I was just reading about a girl at a high school in Mississippi who was banned from going to her prom with her girlfriend. When the court ruled against the school district, the school canceled the prom. This is the same behavior southern schools acted with when proms were racially integrated. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE???

Andrea Watts said...

Brendan, I read about too. It is all really infuriating.

Henry, stellar post!