Monday, January 18, 2021

One, Two, Three Times a Lady...

It seems that liberals can only go for so long before they have to break out the homophobic insults.  A law professor named Josh Chafetz called foul on it today.

The responses were predictably stupid.  One I hadn't seen before was that "Lady G" is a nickname Graham himself asked the male escorts he uses to call him.  

I don't know whether it's true, but after decades of hearing gossip about possibly gay celebrities and public figures, I figure it's false.  And if it's true, it's irrelevant.

I don't want him to be exempt from name-calling. There are plenty of true and proper names to call Graham for voting against LGBTQ+ rights.  "Bigot," for one.  "Hypocrite" for another.  "Liar."  Even "coward."  Throwing homophobic abuse at him, or any closet case, means you're on the side of the bigots, and that you feel good there.  Isn't it funny, though, that when liberal homophobes get called out, they suddenly claim that calling their targets queer isn't really an insult?

And then there's the claim that it's okay to side with the bigots if we're gay, epitomized here:

I have little respect for George Takei anymore, but here's the thing about this one.  In my day (and though I'm younger than he is, I was out years before Takei crept out of his own closet), we queens called everybody by femme names. Singling out one hypocrite, in a time when every gay celebrity was closeted, would have been absurd (not that that would have stopped us).  We were partly engaged in a repressed form of resistance, but it also involved a lot of self-hatred.

It's one thing to play this gay parlor game among ourselves, but once you post it on social media, you're letting insecure straight boys think that they can get away with it too, like white kids who figure that listening to hiphop gives them a day pass to throw around n****r.  

Then came this familiar move:

I can easily believe that Graham is gay, though as Tallulah Bankhead apocryphally said when asked about someone else, "I don't know, darling -- he never sucked my cock!"  Numerous right-wing figures, including politicians, have come forward to be themselves over the years, and they remained terrible people without exception.  Some, like Andrew Sullivan, were already out when they burst onto the scene; same story.  Being a right-wing scumbag is who Graham is: racist, bigoted, dishonest, hypocritical, beholden to wealthy donors.

There were numerous variations on this:

Equating homosexuality to submissiveness (and vice versa) is the quintessence of homophobia.  In this case it's obviously ridiculous, because Graham is far from the only male Republican pol who has submitted to Trump.  Are they all closet cases?  Not impossible, but not likely either.

Which brings me to a curious paradox: In patriarchy if a male submits -- socially, erotically, whatever -- to another male, he is stigmatized as a faggot. On the other hand, patriarchy requires manly men to submit to the authority of other men.  It's not only acceptable, it's praiseworthy.  Even being penetrated sexually endows the recipient with the masculine power of the penetrator: for example, an ancient Roman dream-interpretation manual had it that a man's dream of being fucked by a social superior was a good omen, despite the normal Roman contempt for sexual passives.  In religion, men prostrate themselves before a male god.

And then there's the military.  Ah, yes.  Men prove their manhood through the trial-by-ordeal of basic training, called "ladies" by their drill sergeants, stripped of their individuality and generally abjected and abused.  I can't think of a better example than this segment from Stephen Colbert's 2009 visit to entertain US troops in Iraq.  Dressed in a camouflage suit, Colbert engaged in scripted banter with a general, who told him that if he really wanted to be a soldier, he would have to cut his hair.  Colbert pretended to demur, until President Obama appeared on a video screen and gave him a direct order.  In front of an audience of cheering grunts, the general administered a military buzz cut, which Colbert sported for the rest of his stay in Iraq. 

The sadomasochistic aspects of this scene are hard to miss; the comedy just enhances them.  Much of S&M is theatrics and ritual anyway.  Colbert was still playing his "conservative" persona at this time, but he still submitted to the authority of a "liberal" president.  That it was in the cause of Supporting the Troops ensured that Colbert wasn't unmanned by his abasement.  Context is very important: in another situation, or merely to hostile eyes, he'd have been feminized by it.  It's the ambiguity, the fact that a man can never be sure whether his submission is safe or not, that fuels male anxiety and homosexual panic.

One last comment in this vein: one guy tweeted "Just maybe, if and when Melanie drops trump, Donald & Lindsey may end up been [sic] a pair".  I noted that his bio IDs him as an ex-marine and retorted, "I bet you have your eye on Lindsey yourself.  But he's [also] a bottom, so you two wouldn't be compatible."  In my day, Marines were notorious among military trade queens -- gay men seeking to be penetrated by manly guys in uniform -- for flinging their legs in the air when one got them into bed.  I don't know how true this gossip is; but stereotypes have a way of backfiring, so I wanted to remind "The Captain" to handle them with care.