Thursday, December 11, 2008

Picturing Equality

In Road to Freedom, I wondered if things might be different if there were more images of the LGBT Civil Rights Movement. Eric comments that there are images out there alright!
It's interesting that you bring up the power of images. One thing I've noticed(and please correct me if I'm wrong) is that many of the images associated withLGBT are sexual, which completely misrepresents what the LGBT community isabout. Because these images are so prevalent and are linked to the LGBT community, I feel like that is unfortunately how the majority of people develop stereotypes of LGBT, even if its is inaccurate. You can try searching "gay" or "LGBT" or "homosexuality" on Google images and many of the images will contain pictures with kissing, partial nudity, or even full nudity. It doesn't seem to be that way if you type in "African American" for exampl. Anyways, I know this isn't directly related to the point of your post. Since you mentioned "there are no images of lesbians and gays...", I thought what kind of images are there of lesbians and gays.
I googled images using the keywords "gay," "lesbian," "homosexual," "LGBT," and "heterosexual," and my unscientific study seems to bear this out. Of a hundred "gay" pictures, 27 were sexual (includes partial nudity, suggested sexual acts & kissing) and 73 non-sexual. Of a hundred "lesbian" photos, 44 were sexual and 46 non-sexual. Among the "homosexual" ones, 21 were sexual and 79 non-sexual. In contrast, only 11 "heterosexual" images were sexual. While it might seem surprising the there are more sexual images of lesbians, I suspect that some images are products of heterosexual fantasy. As for "LGBT," mostly logos came up. Only 1 in 100 was sexual.

Eric is correct that sexual images of lesbians and gays are out there. He is spot on about the common perception of the gay "lifestyle." As prim and proper Pat Boone puts it, "hedonistic, irresponsible, blindly selfish" and now "homegrown sexual jihadists." While we all know that most lesbians and gays lead normal, responsible and loving lives, the fact remains that negative stereotypes prevail and need to be countered and replaced. This will not be easy, considering that people, particularly those who protest too much about shameless homosexuals are inexplicable drawn to images of man-on-man or woman-on-woman action and will persist in pointing them out and wagging their fingers. Hank Stuever attests to this fascination in his Washington Post article about men kissing in movies.

Perhaps it is like driving by a car wreck where people slow down to have a look, hoping to catch a glimpse of gore. Disgusted, yes, but. In the Post article, Corey Scholibo of Advocate magazine explains, "Everything in culture is rooted in the idea of masculinity, patriarchy . . . hegemony. You have to be disgusted by two men kissing, otherwise there goes [your] masculinity. If an actor were to say he enjoyed a scene where he kisses another man, then he's somehow less of a man."

Or perhaps God-fearing and nation-loving citizens uphold these perverted gay images to compare and contrast with their perfect lives (never mind the fact that more evangelical teenagers get pregnant out of wedlock and the fact that divorce rates among conservative Christians are significantly higher than other faithful folk).

Bottom line is we need to show that we don't prance around decked in patches of leather with our tongues stuck in one another's throats. We need people to see us as no different from their next door neighbors. So my gay sisters and brothers, start posting pictures of your "wild" lives. Start with the one visiting grandma on Thanksgiving.

Image from American Pollution.

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