Tag Archives: gay rights

Link Dump: #10

Let me just get this out there: I love the movie Cat People. I love it so much that I’d be OK with it if, every time I was aroused, I turned into the movie Cat People. Don’t question how that’d work. The point is that I really, really love that movie. I love its brevity, its odd visual poetry, its confusing but wonderful morals; I love Tom Conway’s sleaziness and, most of all, Simone Simon’s fractured innocence. Cat People is complex, poignant, perverse, and really sexy. I fucking love Cat People. Anyway, I just wanted to talk about that because I haven’t touched on that movie at all this month. Oh, and I have some links! Read them at your leisure.

  • Have you bought issue 10 of Paracinema magazine yet? If not, look at this. Now are you convinced?
  • Wow, even Fangoria hated the I Spit on Your Grave remake! Then you know it’s bad.
  • THIS is an incredible video and I love it. It’s just so in-your-face and totally refuses to bullshit. Fuck hate! Fuck yeah! (Share it with everyone you know who can take the word “fuck”!) [Via Four of Them]
  • Here’s another great video, this one being an ultra-NSFW song by MC Sex about period sex, accompanied by clips from dozens of gory horror movies. [Via Hold onto yr genre]
  • This is a really, really stupid NYT article that just wastes space. Oh no! We don’t have lines like “Stupid is as stupid does” in movies anymore! How can we endure?
  • Christopher Nolan is finally disclosing some Batman 3 – excuse me, “The Dark Knight Rises” – details. I’ve been back and forth about Nolan lately, but I have to admit a measure of excitement for this movie. And I, for one, thought it was obvious that he wasn’t going to use the Riddler, since 1) how would lime green fit into the Nolanverse color scheme, and 2) wouldn’t another joke-cracking villain be redundant??
  • Neil Gaiman on Arthur. This makes every fiber of my being happy; while watching it, I was literally giggling with joy.
  • And speaking of Gaiman, want to be one of his most iconic characters, Death from The Sandman, for Halloween? Well, The Powder Room’s Locus Ceruleus Media will tell you how with this awesome makeup tutorial.
  • Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, here’s a listing of some great Japanese horror movies, including a few we’ve talked about on this blog. Any list that includes Jigoku is good enough for me!
  • A few sites have pointed out this video of a Texas NBC station asking the leading question, “Will acceptance of gays lead to the downfall of America?” Jesus. Fucking. Christ. It’s pretty abhorrent and unbearable, and it just gets worse toward the end. People like this make me fucking sick.
  • There comes a time in every boy’s life when he has to explain the Internet to a 19th century Cockney street urchin. This flowchart should help.
  • To tie it back to Paracinema, their blog has been doing a Halloween Countdown of their own! It’s got snuff films, Japanese wackiness, Vincent Price, and more. And on a related note, Stacie Ponder of Final Girl is rounding down her list-tastic Shocktober lists. Read both of these for some great movie suggestions as Halloween arrives! (Just two days.)

On the search terms front, we had some weird shit this past week. One searcher complained that “women never have sex with men”; another creepily wrote, “my daughter in law has good pussy.” I saw the perfectly unpleasant instruction (?) to “pull my pussy n hurt it grrr,” as well as the more reasonable injunction of “don’t piss off your plastic surgeon.” I’m sorry to say that I don’t know what “professor & the sexy girl japanese movie” refers to.

My mention of Ava Gardner’s performance as a real estate agent in The Sentinel earned us such anomalies as “real estate agent rape scene” and “simulated ava gardner naked fucking” (??!). Finally, my favorite two of the week: “licentiously yours,” which I think should replace “sincerely” or any similar sign-off in correspondence, and “recorded in bathroom, guitar, died, fall,” which is just… I don’t even know. What does that mean? I think it means “Happy Halloween.” So yes. Happy Halloween.

1 Comment

Filed under Cinema, Personal, Sexuality

Body-fascism in Avatar and homophobia everywhere

So: my first week of spring term has come to an end, and I’m finally ready to blog again.  I’ve watched a lot of movies lately, started some classes, read some comics & nonfiction, listened to the new Evelyn Evelyn album, and of course read a bazillion things on the Internet. Lately both Ashley and I have been browsing the very awesome website Sociological Images, which has stirred all kinds of new ideas about how bodies are presented in the media.

Speaking of which! This morning I was reading the latest issue of Sight & Sound and received a pleasant surprise. In the Letters section on the last page was a missive from Dariush Alavi complaining about Avatar; he pointed out how S&S‘s review of Cameron’s mega-opus was, like everyone else, “cheering the money” despite the film’s “execrable politics.” (Politics which Ashley and I have attacked ourselves at great length; see here.) Alavi’s letter really struck home with one particular portion, which highlights some very problematic parts of the film I noticed, but hadn’t been fully able to vocalize.

Avatar must be one of the most racist, body-fascist and unimaginative high-profile American movies I’ve seen in a long time… With their cornrows and ‘generic African’ accents, [the Na’vi] represent all the worst aspects of the notion of the ‘noble savage’, and are evidence of the movie’s patronising attitude to its characters and audience. The uniformity of the Na’vi appearance – from the perfect teeth to the ridiculous waists – is almost as horrific as their facial features, which seem to be an extrapolation of the ‘nipped and tucked’ look favoured in California.

I think this letter makes some fantastic points. Superficially, Avatar is a simplistic man vs. nature epic, contrasting the technology and violence of the humans with the Na’vis’ spiritual connection to their environment. But the Na’vi (aka symbolic Native Americans/Africans) aren’t given subjectivities of their own, and Cameron colonizes them – and all indigenous peoples by extension – just as much as his evil humans do. They’re not characters so much as aesthetic objects, and they remain entirely passive (albeit still so visually pleasing) until brought into action under Jake Sully’s leadership.

And this passivity and objectification is intensified by Cameron’s total disinterest in individualizing the Na’vi. They live communally, I guess, so they don’t need to bother with any but the most cursory personalities – the chief, the priestess, the princess, and rival, and… the rest. Most of the Na’vis’ roles in the film pretty much amount to being eye candy – their director’s motion-captured harem. As Alavi points out, this isn’t just creative laziness: it’s also a desire to put good and evil in the most audaciously obvious of physical terms. Colonel Quaritch is scarred, therefore he’s evil; the Na’vi are enviably tall and thin, a race of Mary Sues, therefore they must be good. The most apt descriptor for them as a race isn’t even “peaceful” or “meditative” so much as “beautiful.”

As was discussed at length, Avatar‘s story basically mirrored that of District 9, but made everything so much easier. In District 9, Blomkamp asks his protagonist and audience to empathize with a race of spat-upon, crustacean refugees referred to only with the pejorative “prawns.” But who’d think twice about becoming a Na’vi? Every subversive piece of Cameron’s story was itself undercut through extreme use of cliché, and the glamorous, better-than-human appearance of the Na’vi fits in this pattern. I think “body-fascist” is the perfect word for a movie that makes its oppressed minority into a species of supermodels, out of the fear that if any Na’vi were possible fat, or ugly, or not quite so sparkly as Edward Cullen, then the audience might fail to identify with them. By which I mean, fuck James Cameron.

Anyway! That’s enough for now about Avatar, the movie so bland it earned a zillion dollars. Why don’t we move on to something more interesting, like flatworm reproduction? Or alternately, also worth discussing: another letter from Sight & Sound, in which Andrew Brettell writes, “Why do film directors feel the need to add these qualifications to works about gay characters?” He refers to a statement from A Single Man‘s director Tom Ford, wherein he said, “It’s not a gay story, he just happens to be gay.” This ties in beautifully to a book I’ve been reading for months, Vito Russo’s classic study of LGBT images in film, The Celluloid Closet. [Caveat for what follows: I have not yet seen A Single Man.]

Russo introduces the chapter “Frightening the Horses” with a series of quotes from filmmakers involved with LGBT-themed movies of the ’60s and ’70s – William Wyler (The Children’s Hour), Rod Steiger (The Sergeant), Gordon Willis (Windows), Rex Harrison (Staircase), and John Schlesinger (Sunday, Bloody Sunday). The gist of all these quotes? The films aren’t about homosexuality; they’re about some other, non-gay theme, usually loneliness. It’s strange that despite the passage of 40 or so years and the flowering of a whole queer independent cinema in America, directors of mainstream movies about homosexuality are still compelled to qualify their work, and even when the directors themselves are gay, like Tom Ford.

I don’t necessarily blame the people making these statements, but I think it does provide insights into our straight society’s attitude toward stories about, gasp, gay people. It’s as if straight moviegoers need to be cajoled into the theaters. “Don’t worry; you won’t be asked to share in Colin Firth’s homoerotic desires. It’s just about loneliness! You can identify with loneliness, can’t you?” So maybe this method of framing movies is double-edged: it certainly looks like cowardice, backing down from the content of your own film, but it can possibly serve as a Trojan horse, a way to lure vaguely homophobic or at least homo-anxious people into a movie they might not otherwise see. They sit down in the theater, they start identifying with Colin Firth, and by the end they might say, “Wow! Oppression based on your sexual orientation does suck!”

So that’s a possible defense of these wishy-washy statements, which admit that the characters are gay, but insist that the movie’s about more universal themes: they’re giving a special point of entrance to ignorant, self-absorbed straight viewers. I think this also reveals a lot about how straight is seen as the incontrovertible default or norm. (Kind of like, oh, how women are women and men are people, or how black is an alternate option.) Even now, homosexuality is identified as, yes, different, strange, abnormal, wrong, sinful, and of course as synonymous with sex-obsessed. So gay men can’t be trusted with Boy Scouts, for example, or if you try to incorporate a gay character into children’s fiction, you’re perverting them and soiling their innocence.

Do you remember the outcry over King & King? Or any number of books for children with totally nonsexual presentations of gay characters? This is the big issue here: even though stories for kids are absolutely full of hetero relationships, whether it’s between princes and princesses, or mothers and fathers, or animals that fall in love, once you switch the genders, then it becomes dirty and sexual. Because male/female relationships are always pure and chaste and kid-friendly, and they reproduce in clean and unobjectionable ways, right? But if you say the word “gay” to a child, you may as well be shouting “ANAL SEX!” in their ear over and over. Except… that’s not true; the image of homosexuals as always craving and having sex is just a malicious stereotype. However, since the people (men) in charge – whether socially, politically, or economically – decide the stereotypes, they decide the children’s books, and they decide what’s normal.

There’s also been an outcry over mentioning homosexuality in middle/high school sex ed courses. Which basically shows how parents want their kids to grow up either not knowing that gays exist – invisibility – or else regarding them as weird, vaguely predatory, but ultimately pitiful creatures who crawl around the fringes of cities (i.e., the dominant image presented pre-1960s, and sometimes post-). There are so many entangled fears here that it’s hard to straighten them out, but I think a huge one is fearing that their sons/daughters just might be gay (“I knew I shouldn’t have listened to so much Elton John when I was pregnant!), and if they learn about homosexuality in an accepting social climate, then dear God, they might just feel comfortable coming out. And then not only will the queers have invaded the TVs and radios with their icky, anal-sex-having selves, but they’ll have invaded poor God-fearing folks’ families, as well. As if homosexuality is a tumor you can eliminate with enough bigoted chemotherapy.

So that’s my brief take on, oh, the fears that put the “phobia” in “homophobia.” It reminds me of a basic tenet from my melodrama class last year, propounded by Linda Williams: “home as a space of innocence.” One of her exemplars of this theme, it’s worth mentioning, is D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, which could make a pretty good template for the kinds of new homophobic myths that have been developed over the past few decades. According to these hateful, deluded people, they’re just protecting their homes – be that literally, or  referring to all of America as Reagan’s “shining city” – and spreading homophobic lies is just like preemptively nailing all the doors shut or putting up a fence. Thankfully, through the beauty of tolerance and increasing education, that’s all starting to change.

4 Comments

Filed under Body, Cinema, Media, Politics, Sexuality

Mississippi Hetero-Prom Bullshit

So, I’ve been stranded up here in suburbia lately, with my only Internet access coming in bite-size chunks at the public library. That said, I’m going to take the scant time I have to write a little. Ashley’s been working on a post about the history of Disney princesses in relation to feminism, and I would like to eventually comment on similar topics, as prompted by The Princess and the Frog. In the meantime, however, I want to address an ongoing controversy involving institutionalized homophobia. It’s the Fulton, MS Prom Discrimination.

The situation, which can be understood from glancing over a few news sources, is relatively straightforward. Constance McMillen, an 18-year-old student at Itawamba Agricultural High School, asked if she could attend the prom with her girlfriend, and wear a tuxedo. School officials told her no. Then they cancelled the prom itself, claiming that they were “taking into consideration the education, safety and well being of [their] students.” Students become upset with McMillen, although supposedly she wasn’t the reason for the cancellation, controversy flared nationally, and the ACLU sued the school district.

The results? The judge found the school district wrong, but felt it would also be wrong to forcibly reinstate the prom on April 2, because apparently it would “only confuse and confound the community on the issue.” Fulton sounds like a community that’s pretty easy to confuse and confound. Since the news broke of the school district’s bullshit decision, however, McMillen has become a rallying point for the rights of LGBT teens. A Facebook page called “Let Constance Take Her Girlfriend to Prom!” has hundreds of thousands of fans, and Dan Savage recently advocated donating to her cause. So, awesome! A lot of cool people are very much behind this brave young woman.

I think the above paragraphs should give you pretty much the objective background necessary to form an opinion and, if desired, show your support. And now I must subjectively say: Fulton, Mississippi, what the hell? Both my father and girlfriend went to school dances with same-sex dates, just because they wanted to, and neither was held to some nonsensical, arbitrary school policy. I don’t want to invoke my Yankee bias against the intolerance of the Deep South, but I see few other answers here.

The ACLU has also helpfully turned up a flyer handed out to Itawamba High students, informing them that their “guests… must be of the opposite sex.” You may notice that these aren’t “dates,” but “guests,” and it looks like as long as the two of you make a nice hetero couple, your “guest” can be just about anyone of any age. Why, exactly, was this rule in place? According to McMillen, the principal’s excuse involved same-sex students not in relationships trying to buy the cheaper tickets for couples instead of two more expensive individual tickets. Uh-huh.

So basically, in their effort to force students to pay through the nose for prom tickets, the school was willing to dismiss the existence of homosexuality. Ahh, what a pastoral dream world those Mississippian school administrators must be living in. Where women wear dresses, men wear tuxedos, and the two go together like peanut butter and jelly. (And you’re also forbidden from mixing peanut butter with peanut butter?) Here’s a little video where you can hear from Constance herself on the matter.

The matter of the tuxedo is similarly baffling. It reminds me of a story from last October where Ceara Sturgis, a 17-year-old lesbian student in Jackson, MS, was banned from wearing a tuxedo in her yearbook photo. As in McMillen’s case, it was chalked up to the ominous but inevitable “school policy.” I.e., it’s always been this way and that’s how we likes it. Granted, I don’t know why these girls want to wear tuxedos; in my thankfully limited experience, they’re uncomfortable as hell, and I’d rather wear a dress in an instant.

But then again, that’s why I’m me and they’re them, isn’t it? Because I’d prefer a dress and they’d prefer those stiff, black-and-white iron maidens we call tuxedos. And I’d also guess that just because they’re in Mississippi and surrounded by heterosexuals (and bigots), that doesn’t mean said identity rubs off on them. So thankfully the tide is turning and such outdated school policies are starting to change. As the Facebook page I linked to above mentions, a recent attempt by a Georgia high schooler to take his boyfriend to prom was successful, and McMillen’s trials may well have been a factor.

This piece of Internet access is rapidly coming to an end what with the library closing, so I’ll conclude hastily. The school district’s actions in this case is just self-evidently ridiculous. It reminds me of last Christmas, when Ashley’s hometown of Chambersburg made national news for its decisions about the displays in the town square: If the atheist veterans are going to get one, then no displays for anyone! Apparently the school administrators of Fulton have a similarly childish approach, and it’s kind of blown up in their face. I say good luck to Constance McMillen and the ACLU with their struggle to get this all sorted out in the name of equal rights, and fuck you to oppressive, illogical school policies everywhere. Now, take everything I said and apply it to gay marriage, too.

(PS: regarding the tuxedos, it’s not like they were planning to go naked or topless or wear bikinis or anything. They were going to be very heavily clothed, just in clothes that weren’t strictly gender normative! Any school that has a problem with that deserves to have its idiotic intolerance plastered all over the national media.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Media, Politics, relationships, Sexuality

NY State Sen. Diane Savino on gay marriage

Really quick: courtesy of the blog Feeling Listless, I just found this video of New York State Senator Diane Savino speaking passionately and eloquently about gay marriage. She’s funny and moving. Enjoy!

[Sadly, the bill about which Savino was speaking failed by a vote of 38 to 24.]

1 Comment

Filed under Politics

Gay rights and the world of Jack Chick

This term is at last coming to an end, which means I will definitely now have more time for blogging. The only problem is that while my time is plentiful, my ideas are not. So at least in the immediate future, I’m grasping at straws as to what I should write about. You may point out the obvious solution and say, You’ve gone so long without blogging; why start now? Why does it matter? And I’d be hard-pressed to give you a convincing answer. But I think the salient part is that I must write as long as I have two hands and ten or so fingers in front of me, and that’s what I’m doing!

I have some vague desires, blog-wise: I want to write, for example, about visual arts (fim, comics, painting), sexuality, social norms, something along these lines. Yesterday, while conducting some desultory online searches, I found this abominable website, Defend the Family, which is basically nothing more or less than a hate site. I don’t know why I’m so drawn to websites so full of hate – I think it’s the same, unquenchable curiosity that drives a lot of people who investigate and write about radicals, maniacs, terrorists, cultists, and what have you. It’s this desire to find out just what drives these deranged, misguided passions.

What can lead someone to throw their life away on totally futile, objectively worthless pursuits, whether it involves hurting others, hurting themselves, or just harmlessly wasting time and money? They’re definitely relevant, important questions, since they speak to the darker sides of human nature, how easily people can be drawn into supporting malicious plots that cause unspeakable horror. (Nazi Germany is a tragic object lesson is this willingness to follow and believe no matter what the price.)

So it’s a desire to answer these questions – to figure out how and why people can do and think these things – that leads me to the atrocious, horrifying white supremacist website Stormfront (trigger warning of all kinds) and to, again, Defend the Family. Which, unsurprisingly, doesn’t really have anything to do with defending anyone’s family; a more appropriate name for the site would be “Persecute the Gay.” The question here is really, What isn’t wrong with this website? A banner ad along the side hawks books like Redeeming the Rainbow and The Pink Swastika, which the website claims to be “a thoroughly researched, eminently readable, demolition of the “gay” myth, symbolized by the pink triangle, that the Nazis were anti-homosexual.” I am not making this up. Somebody actually wrote this book, and this website is selling it at $16.95 a copy. The other side of the page has a big, bright, apparently family-friendy image:

Because it turns out that sunsets, smiles, beaches, and holding hands are to gays like garlic to vampires. Who knew? For you see, in a world where homosexuality is legal and publicly accepted, men and women won’t be able to embrace each other – brides won’t be able to wear veils! – children will be forbidden from sitting next to each other. Is that the kind of world you want to raise children in (except you won’t have children because the gays will illegalize it)?! Dear lord, how terrible.

You may notice that I revert to sarcasm a lot when dealing with this kind of idiocy. Possibly explanations may be that 1) I’m a pretty sarcastic person in the first place, or maybe 2) it’s so frustrating and ridiculous it’s hard to encounter with a straight face. And yes, I know that sexual identity isn’t the same thing as race or gender, but still, I’m so tempted to imagine. What if this were, say, the 1860s, the 1910s, the 1960s, or some other era when America/the world is poised on the brink of increased equality? Could you imagine a reactionary website from back then with an image like that?

A storm is coming. Do you want teachers telling your kids that black kids are just as good as they are?

If you don’t want to be obligated to acknowledge the equality of others, that’s too bad for you. It does not mean that everyone around you should be bent to your will. Yesterday I read a blurb on this inane website mentioning something called the “Riga Declaration.” It goes like this:

Whereas freedom of religion has been protected in human rights law from antiquity, including the Charter of Human Rights of King Cyrus the Great in 539 BC, the British Magna Carta in 1215 AD, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789 and the American Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution in 1789…

[blah, blah, blah]

Whereas natural law recognizes a natural order in sexual and family matters…

[more bullshit]

Therefore, relying upon more than 4000 years of legal precedent and the moral and religious principles we share with the vast majority of the citizens of the world,

We Declare that the human rights of religious and moral people to protect family values is far superior to any claimed human right of those who practice homosexuality and other sexual deviance, and

We Call for the European Union and the international community to immediately abandon any campaign to create a human right for homosexual conduct, and to restore religious freedom and family values to their proper superior status.

Now, for one thing, this so-called “Declaration” isn’t actually anything real or significant in any way. Still, it’s pretty upsetting that some people think it is, or that it’s saying anything legitimate or intelligent. So what’s it really saying (not very coherently)? “We have a religion so your rights don’t matter.” This whole line of thinking is so obviously contradictory to the whole way democracy works; it’s impossible to reconcile wanting to live in a free society with wanting to deprive a group of their rights on such a shoddy basis – i.e., because we don’t like them.

And you know what’s even more sad about this? These claims and “declarations” and bullshit are all illogical and pointless, yet they hold sway over national law. (Just think about what happened in Maine a few weeks ago.) Recently, together with my school’s Gender and Sexuality Center and Cinema & Media Studies department, I helped out (very slightly) in bringing award-winning filmmaker Johnny Symons to campus, along with two of his films.

Daddy & Papa (2002) was very cute, based largely on Symons’ own experiences raising children and those of his friends; Ask Not (2008) was inspiring in its account of youth activism against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and thoughtfully presented numerous counterarguments – from data, from experience, etc. – against the failed policy. I highly recommend watching these movies if you can track them down.

In the end, people like these fuckers for “Defend the Family” are simply on the wrong side of history. Freedom of religion is very important. But so are other freedoms, and there’s no good reason why anyone’s prejudices should cause others to be penalized for private, consensual behavior. (Reality check: Lawrence v. Texas struck down anti-sodomy laws as unconstitutional in 2003.) Within a few decades (at most), I dearly hope that gay marriage will be legal in all 50 states, and this whole absurd debate will be a thing of the past. Till then, I suppose, it’s just a matter of keeping the activism going full force, and not getting discouraged.

(Before I continue: I saw this great website listed on a poster in a high school a few days ago; I plan to glance over it in more detail, because I think this is a fantastic idea. As long as homosexuality is equated with negative attributes on schoolyards across the nation, there is not tolerance. Besides, thinking b4 you speak is just a good idea in general, whether you’re going to spout homophobic shit or not.)

And so, along these lines, I thought I might continue my ongoing investigation into the life and work of Jack T. Chick. The last time I wrote about Chick, I received this very pleasant surprise; if you haven’t watched the documentary yet (it’s very short and informative), I highly recommend you do that now. Chick is endlessly appealing, yet endlessly repugnant, and it’s not unexpected that his stance on homosexuality follows this trend.

Being the wacky fundamentalist he is, Chick has consistently addressed “the gay agenda” in his tracts, using the same overblown, puritanical fury he uses for everything from Halloween to not preaching exactly the right type of Christianity. His most direct take on homosexuality was 1984’s The Gay Blade, where he proved that not only was he behind the times, but that he viewed gay culture with all the accuracy and understanding of a 16th century Spaniard documenting the West Indies. Which is to say, typical Jack Chick. I think I’ll spend the remainder of this post analyzing The Gay Blade; his other two tracts primarily on homosexuality, Doom Town and Birds and the Bees, are similar in structure and content. (Wounded Children is, sadly, hard to find online, but it’s a demented classic.)

So The Gay Blade begins with a scene that you’d think would be out of some futuristic nightmare, but no! It is, in fact (I guess), a current event: a man marrying a man. Chick dismisses the fact that same-sex marriage was recognized nowhere in the U.S. in 1984, and pretends that men getting married to each other, and then rushing into waiting vehicles framed against indistinct gray backgrounds, is the greatest threat to Christendom since whatever else has made mothers cover their children’s eyes while thinking, “Gulp!”

(Incidentally, I think Chick’s tendency of making his characters think onomatopoetic words instead of say them, like normal people do, is one of his most hilarious artistic quirks – he’s consistent about it, too!)

After expressing anxiety about guys with big hair holding hands, Chick puts the issue out there: “THE GAY REVOLUTION IS UNDERWAY. To most people, it’s a big joke… but is it really?” This is pretty symptomatic of Chick’s indecisiveness: he can’t quite pick whether gays are hated now and should keep being hated, or if they’ve got the full support of our sinful society and the government behind them. He flip-flops repeatedly over the next few panels.

Note the proud lesbian – apparently being leered at by guys with crooked heads? – wearing her requisite shiny black dyke uniform. So what is it, Jack? Are homosexuals “in a display of defiance against society… suffer[ing] the agony of rejection, the despair of unsatisfied longing – desiring – endless lusting” (yes, it really says that)? Or are they basically in control, as page 6 would indicate? He seems to want it both ways. They’re oppressed (good), but they’re oppressing (bad). If you’re confused… welcome to Chickworld.

The scene then changes, as Chick takes on a trip into the past, to the last time gays were given free reign to be their bad gay selves: SODOM. We see some valiant archaeologists uncovering millennia-old carvings and immediately covering their faces. One of them cries, “Good Lord, I can’t believe my eyes, we can’t publish this. It’s filthy!” The discovery of this ancient gay porn lets Chick segue into one of his usual long Bible stories, one he’d later recount in far more graphic detail in Doom Town. Lot lives in Sodom, gets visited by angels, the Sodomites get pissed, demand that he send the angels out “that we might know them (sexually),” and in the end, everyone dies.

Chick underpins this section, which is not all that artistically interesting, with a lot of Bible citations (Genesis 19:10, Genesis 19:11, Genesis 19:24, etc., etc.) and bullshit archaeological evidence. Then, mercifully, we return to the present day, where “new laws” are encouraging gays to take the offensive by grabbing people’s arms and refusing to let go, while simultaneously resisting Christ’s power. It also leads into one of my very favorite pages from this tract.

Is it just me, or did Chick somehow make his condemnation of the gay lifestyle unintentionally sexy? I’ve heard of unintentionally funny before, but – I mean, look at her, an attractive young lesbian, defying the idiocy of the very comic she’s in! Sure, she’s got a confusingly-worded biblical passage beneath her, but your eyes wander away from “…did change the natural use…” and you start thinking, Wow! She cannot change, and she doesn’t want to! I’m convinced. Gay lifestyle it is.

After this page, the tract mentions some old canards – gay men die young because they’re violent and get AIDS (and remember, it’s just because they’re gay men, has nothing to do with centuries of systematic oppression) – quotes some more paragraph-long Bible verses, and kind of gives up and goes home. “Homosexuality is one of many sins,” explains the second-to-last page. “There are also murder, lying, adultery, drunkenness, etc.” A scathing indictment of homosexuality, to be sure: It’s in the same ballpark as murder, lying, and stuff.

So what can we learn from Jack Chick’s outdated rampage of silliness and illogic? I see it as a glance into this madly homophobic thought process that helps drive shit like what happened in California and Maine. Men holding hands are different. They’re icky. They’re the Other, and we – being good normal straight white Christians – just don’t like ’em. Besides, they’re all proud and angry and God hates them and eww, they sleep with others of the same sex.

Ultimately, what evidence does Chick really have other than pages of gay caricatures far removed from reality, and reams of vague, randomly-applied Bible quotes? His main line of argument amounts to “Gays scare me, and that makes them bad.” Unfortunately, this isn’t limited to one crazy-but-massively-influential cartoonist. If you glance over some of these help-defend-marriage websites, as I sadly have, or even just look at the one I linked to above, that’s their argument. “My religion says gay people are bad. So take away their rights.”

It’s a pretty depressing viewpoint to think about. Hatred is all over the place. Thankfully, the tide is turning, and equality is going to win the day. We just have to keep fighting, keep arguing against this hateful bullshit, and soon the day will come when kids will call each other “gay” about as often as they call each other “straight.”

1 Comment

Filed under art, Media, Politics, Religion, Sexuality