Sunday, September 27, 2009

Since When Did 'Homosexual' Become a Bad Word?

I blogged the gay marriage controversy for months following the passage of Proposition 8 last November. With the California Supreme Court's ruling last May, some activists argued for an appeal to the U.S Supreme Court (an unfavorable venue, given the Court's current conservative majority). And just this week gay rights activists submitted a ballot proposal to the Secretary of State's office. A group called "Love Honor Cherish" filed the measure, but other groups have argued that 2010 is too soon for a new gay marriage push. Some fear that a failed campaign could set back the cause.

Meanwhile, voters in Maine, Michigan, and Washington State will have a chance to vote on
gay rights initiatives this fall, just one year after the contentious California gay marriage fight. In Maine, it turns out there's a big controversy over at a conservative advertisement that apparently changes an AP news headline to include "homosexual." According to AmericaBlog, "That headline only exists on anti-gay sites. It's not from the Associated Press." The orginal story is here, "Gay Rights Group: Maine Diocese Violating Tax Law. "

It's not immediately clear why the Yes on One campaign would alter the headline for the ad buy. Perhaps "Homosexual Advocacy Group" has more negative connotations than "Gay Right Group." No matter, the campaign should be criticized if they've dishonestly altered an AP report for political purposes.

Having said that, what's even more interesting is the reaction on the left.
Darleen Click points us to a Feministing post on the controversy, which includes this blast of hatred:

Truly fighting for equal rights requires a social change and public pressure. Why did textbook companies begin to consciously include photos of students of color in their course materials after the civil rights movement? Because diversity--of ethnicity, of community, and of culture -is the norm, not the exception. The idea of an "other," of a "minority," or even the implication of a same-sex marriage being "non-traditional," alienates and isolates queer individuals and families worldwide.

Teach children about same-sex marriage in schools.
Never refer to queer-identified individuals as "homosexuals." Treat churches who refuse to perform same-sex marriages like those who refuse to perform interracial marriages.

But if Maine's Question 1 is defeated, churches will remain the same, school curriculum will retain its heteronormativity, and "homosexuals" will still fear living openly. Maine conservatives have nothing to worry about.
Never refer to individuals as "homosexuals." But in fact, that's what they are. A look over at Wikipedia turns up this straightforward discussion:

Homosexuality is a sexual orientation. A homosexual person is sexually and romantically attracted to people of their own gender. Men who are attracted to other men are called "gay." Women who are attracted to other women can be called "gay" as well, but are usually called "lesbians". People who are attracted to men and women are called bisexual. Together homosexual, bisexual, and transgender people make up the "LGBT community." It is difficult to say how many people are homosexual. Homosexuality is known to exist in all cultures and countries, though some governments deny that homosexuality exists in their countries.
That's how I would explain what a "homosexual" is to my own kids. There's nothing discriminatory about it. Perhaps the Yes on One campaign sought to tap into "homosexual" as synonomous with "homo," which is an anti-gay slur. That said, the outrage among gay rights activists is even more cynically exploitative, and pushing "queer" as the acceptable postmodern terminology is bound to alienate traditional families. Certainly families in Maine have a right to be concerned that schools will ram down politically-correct notions of gay marriage as "normal" on children.

More honesty all around would be helpful. But if anything, this battle shows what
the gay-rights ayatollahs are all about. Just like last year, anyone of traditional orientation is likely to face Stalinist show trials should they deviate from the radical left's "queer" rights agenda.

What a disgrace.


Elizabeth said...

Gays generally don't like the term homosexual because it pathologizes our sexual orientation. It was a term invented at the turn of 19th century to clinically describe same-sex attraction, which was then considered a disease.

It is also not preferred because of its singular focus on the sexual aspect of same-sex attraction, overlooking issues of love and emotion.

I'll also add that I'm a gay who absolutely hates the term queer (most gays I know do as well). I don't consider myself queer; just a pretty ordinary woman who happens to be gay.