Friday, February 03, 2006

What They Don't See

There is another aspect of Will Hall's quote from the Times article that inspired yesterday's post that is troublesome. He worried that fans of the film End of the Spear might look up actor Chad Allen on the internet, and discover that he's openly gay.

Yesterday I focused on his bizarre comment that people should not question church teaching or what they read in the Bible, but I left much unsaid about the other implication of Hall's comment.

Conservative Evangelicals have focused a lot recently on what they call "positive depictions" of homosexuality in the media, ranging from a children's show on PBS that showed a families in Vermont headed by lesbian couples to the controversy over Brokeback Mountain. When they say "positive depiction," what they mean is any reference at all; an Alabama congressman is trying to ban The Color Purple and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof for their "positive" references to the "gay lifestyle."

What Hall is really afraid of is that people will look up Chad Allen and discover that not only is he not heterosexual, he's not a monster. The anti-gay movement wants people to believe that homosexuals are predatory creatures living flamboyant, debauched lifestyles, and that they troll around looking to seduce children and convert them to homosexuality. They want people to believe that the "gay lifestyle" (there is no such thing) is so inherently detrimental that legal recognition of committed same-sex relationships will result in nothing less than the collapse of civilization.

So when Postcards from Buster doesn't depict man-hating lesbians chanting "Vote for Hillary" while standing in a pentagram illuminated by candles made from cats' blood, and when Brokeback -- lighthearted and hilarious as it is -- doesn't depict two swishy, effeminate men hanging around elementary school playgrounds handing out NAMBLA brochures, they start to get nervous because this undermines what they want people to believe about gayness.

You might have thought I was kidding two posts ago when I suggested shouting "Homosexual coming through!" to disperse crowds in Times Square, but honestly I wasn't, and this is why it works: when certain people hear the word "homosexual," they think of something monstrous and bizarre. They grab for their children and look around to see where the threat is coming from. At this moment I quite literally disappear to them, because what they see does not match what they expect to see. The confusion caused by this visual disconnect renders them stunned just long enough for me to pass through their midst.

This is exactly what Christ meant when he said "They see without seeing," also known as the Liberace phenomenon.

Faith is belief in the unseen, not denial of the plainly visible.


little-cicero said...

Are you implying that Liberace was a homosexual?

Anthony said...

Austin Powers was certainly under that impression.

Mary Ann said...

Andy, excellent insights as always.

I'd like to comment on the "positive depictions" vs. negative of homosexuality in movies, tv, etc. There really has been a shift. I can think of two movies from the early '80s (and I'm not a movie freak or super-interested in charting hollywood's shifting depictions of homosexuality) that include obviously gay side-line characters who are every inch greasy, slimy, BAD people. If you'd like I'll google the bits I can remember of the movies to find their titles.

Anyway, a definate transition has occurred, one that I think is much for the better.

Kard said...

I'm quite sure we all live with some form of prejudice around us. But I'll back you on that bit about "want people to believe about gayness."

I'm surrounded by gay-friendly people and I suppose, it wasn't until recently that I've seen the bigger reality out there and it's just amazing what the stereotypes about gayness is (if there is such a thing as "gayness"). Initially I thought perhaps the younger generation of Singaporeans are more receptive and open about such a thing, but apparently not.

I'll agree to what you said about the ""gay lifestyle" (there is no such thing) is so inherently detrimental that legal recognition of committed same-sex relationships will result in nothing less than the collapse of civilization." That too amazes me to end when people here are beginning to say things like, "Oh, you're gay? You surely will get AIDS." Simply Amazing. Attributedly, that can be blantantly pointed to the senior minister of health making a statment that HIV positive cases are on the rise due to gay men and one of the possible causes of this increase is due to the annual gay parties held in Singapore. This is in reference to the annual gay party being held in Singapore (until 2004 afterwhich it was banned) by Fridae.

I'm not sure about the children bit but I suppose in time I'll be sure to hear something along those lines too.

On a side-note, with all that overpopulation bit, I suppose it wouldn't hurt to have some gay/lesbian people. Population control folks :P

And of course I believe you had said that before Homosexual coming through. :P