When I blogged about Garrison Keillor's ridiculous stereotyping of gay men as camped-up, self-obsessed, effeminate jerks, I got a lot of comments like "can't you recognize satire?" and "lighten up." I'm really baffled by these. No, actually, I'm pissed.
I think, and hope, if you've been reading my blog, you'll know that, yes, in fact, I do have a sense of humor. About queer issues. It is that same sense of humor that tells me Garrison Keillor's remarks weren't funny. Sure, I think they were meant to be a little tongue-in-cheek, but all in the service of saying, let's go back to that peachy simpler time when men were men and women were women and children were important. First of all, much to my chagrin, gender norms are still firmly in place. Go to a random person's house: Who's cooking? What does the husband watch on TV? Who quits to raise the baby? And children, sweet mother of God, children are still fetishistically important—especially to gay parents who pay good money and put lots of time and thought into the matter.
(Now just a quick aside, Mr. Keillor is a fine one to blame others for the passing of that sweet, simple time of the nuclear man-woman family. He has cheated on at least 2 of his 3 wives.)
But how is it that people are so totally ignorant about discrimination? Here's a primer:
Jokes are a big part of the problem!
They seem to be an especially big part when it comes to queer stuff. I've had more people make jokes in front of me in that "I'm only laughing at this because I know you know I'm too sophisticated to be a biggot, but you've got to admit the stereotype is really true (or else you have no sense of humor)" kind of way. Let's just say if I pooped the tiniest turd in the world for each of these remarks, I'd have taken a mighty big shit.
The funny thing is, these people—and Keillor is especially guilty of this—think the stereotypes are true because, well, because they think the stereotypes are true. If you aren't gay sensitive, it's likely the only gay person you'll know is gay is the one that fits your stereotype. Meanwhile, non-stereotypical gays are moving all around you. Now I myself am a fairly stereotypical homo in many ways--certainly the way I look. But does that mean I'm no more than the sum of my stereotypes? That's kinda demeaning, don't you think?
And then there's this comment: "I don't think that Garrison has evil intent or wants to hurt anybody. Just like Chris Rock when he says unkind things about EuroAmericans. If we are offended by what Chris Rock says, just don't watch him and/or Comedy Central shows." Pop quiz: How is a black man making fun of white people different from a straight guy making fun of gay people? Answer: Either the humor supports real-world oppression (and if you don't think there's any of gay people, are you dead?), or it challenges those oppressions.
By the way, that's also why "there isn't this kind of outrage when straight White men are lampooned, denigrated, and presented as the stereotypical bumbling moron white man daily in TV shows (Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens, Friends, etc.), ads, and in countless articles and blogs." Oh, and those shows are produced and written by the people they mock. Oh, and one other thing, the purpose of these shows is not to deprive straight white men of anything.