And now that I’ve pretty much resigned to using the Counter Critic as a platform for advocating for all things gay–for the time being–I’d like to share with y’all a Fan Page I started that is dedicated to drawing attention to and discussing the ideas in Sarah Schulman’s groundbreaking book “Ties That Bind: Familial homophobia and its consequences.”
In reality, this site has always addressed queer issues. C.C. has never shied from nor apologized for, well, being gay. Steady readers would figure out pretty quickly that the man behind the mask is a big homo. And the more I really consider the world and its parts, the harder it is for me to separate in any real sense homosexual politics from anything we experience in our culture. The fact is that “the homosexual” has been politicized by society, and this politicization (via suppression, oppression, and repression; pick your favorite) is evident in all aspects of culture, from works of art themselves (their content, their context, their reception) to how these works of art are produced (who’s making them, who’s curating them, how they are being written about), and that we can observe this as an injustice in virtually anything we experience. So, I guess I don’t think that using this site to explore homophobia is really a departure. And I hesitate to define the choice as an obsession, or a higher concentration of explicitly queer subjectivity. I’m more inclined, if anything, to feel that this lean would actually be more representative of the actual world in which we live, make work, and experience art. And I don’t believe in the neutrality of the critic, since gay critics have to repress their own gay subjectivity, while straight critics enjoy the privilege of not having to worry about it. (I suppose this begs for a whole other article about critics and the closet. Good idea!)
At any rate, what difference is there really between our experiences of art and life? Art is part of life. And vice-versa. So now I’m giving you a full fusion of my art (CounterCritic) and my life (Facebook) and some ideas that are pertinent to both, since it is all the same fucking thing.
Thus, here’s is a topic of discussion that I hope C.C. readers will find interesting. And if you haven’t read “Ties That Bind,” please do so now:
I’ve been thinking more about the case of Brian Burke, and it seems more and more to represent to me how limited our conversation on homophobia is, namely, that homophobia need only be addressed and confronted once a homosexual person in our lives is identified. That is, that we don’t need to worry about our homophobic tendencies as long as we don’t think there are any homosexual people around.
Quick note: Mr. Burke has chosen quite bravely to speak out about his life and his relationship with his son. It is in that spirit of openness and discussion that I’m writing out these ideas. I am not callous to his situation, or to the awfulness of his loss. I hope he would appreciate my interest in his story, and my willingness to engage in conversation.
That said, it struck me as worth considering at more length the way Mr. Burke reflected on how he raised his son after his son came out to him. His immediate conclusion was that he “never told his children that there was anything wrong with homosexuality.” For the record, and coming from a family that did exactly the opposite, I think that’s very commendable.
But I’m curious about how not teaching that being gay is wrong is somehow equated with or understood to include teaching that being gay is good. In actuality, these are not the same thing, and one can easily do the former without doing the latter.
I would posit that if there were actually no homophobia at play in Mr. Burke’s family, then his son would never have had to come out to him in the first place. If families were really not homophobic, and were really open to seeing for their children all the possibilities of future happiness, they would create for their children, from their very earliest age, an environment in which the homosexual potential was equally celebrated as the heterosexual potential.
An example. When a three year old boy would tell his mother, “I want to marry a boy,” instead of either correcting him erroneously by saying “boys can’t marry boys”–because they can in several places in this country and in the world–, or instead of freaking out and changing the subject, or leading her son toward looking at girls instead without explicitly saying there is anything wrong with wanting to marry boys, the non-homophobic mother would instead say, “Oh, good. Which boy do you want to marry?”
But this doesn’t happen, does it?