Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Privileges of Heterosexuality

“Heterosexual Privilege” is a term used to refer to a society’s preferential treatment in regards to couples or persons whose sexual orientation is heterosexual. There are many ways in which this kind of prejudice is displayed. Many heterosexuals do not even know that they are actually receiving preferential treatment until they have been educated by a homosexual friend or family member.
Some of the benefits of being heterosexual are not even fiscal; they can be very broad. One such benefit would be the ability to show affection to the person they are dating or married to. While we live in a “free” country, many homosexuals are still afraid of public displays of affection due to the fear that they would be harmed or verbally abused. There have been many instances where people have been attacked not because they are homosexual, but simply because they were suspected of being so. It wasn’t until 2003 that the Supreme Court ruled that homosexuals have the right to engage in sexual activities in the privacy of their own home (Lawrence v. Texas).
There have been many laws to the detriment of the gay community. At one point in US history, it was illegal to serve a known homosexual alcohol and for more than two known homosexuals to gather in one place. It wasn’t until the Stonewall Riots that the community started fighting this oppression and it quickly spread across the country. Because of this wave of protest, there were some legal backlashes. In 1972, the Supreme Court ruled that it was not unconstitutional for a state to deny a marriage license for same-sex couples (Baker v. Nelson).
The Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 not only said that the federal government could not recognize same-sex marriage, but that each state had to decide for themselves whether or not to allow same-sex marriages on the state level. Many have called for a Federal Marriage Amendment which would effectively ban all same-sex marriages on the federal and state level by adding an amendment to the constitution.
There are still some people who don’t understand why marriage is “such a big deal” to the gay community. What they don’t understand is that there are over 1,000 rights and responsibilities that come along with lawful marriage. The obvious ones being spousal medical decisions or the transfer of property upon death without taxation but there are many more including: legal status with stepchildren, right of survivorship of custodial trust, right to change surname (at no charge) upon marriage, right to enter a prenuptial agreement, domestic violence protection orders, sponsor husband/wife for immigration benefits, per diem payment to spouse for federal civil service employees when relocating, threats agains spouses of various federal employees is a federal crime, spousal privilege in court cases (meaning you don’t have to divulge incriminating evidence against the spouse), alimony or child support, making or revoking post-mortem anatomical gifts, continuation of employer-sponsored health benefits, permission to make funeral arrangements, joint tax filing, insurance coverages, funeral and bereavement leave and so, so, so many more things. Remember, those were just the benefits of marriage currently being denied to homosexual couples.
Another major issue is gay adoption. In many sates, the laws are very ambiguous so to allow for individual judges to discriminate against homosexual couples. Four states specifically ban homosexual adoption, nineteen allow full adoption and one allows for stepchild adoption. The rest are considered “ambiguous” so that there is no “official” policy but it is usually very difficult for homosexual couples to adopt. The one redeeming factor is that a federal judge ruled that states have to recognize out-of-state adoptions because of the Full Faith and Credit Clause (Adar v. Smith). However, one can see how many obstacles there are for a couple wanting to adopt a child.
Yet another legal impediment is job security. 21 states and the District of Columbia have specifically banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in the work place (Texas is not one of them). While crimes committed to one member of a community (hate crimes) now includes sexual orientation and gender identity, there has been no such federal law in reference to employment discrimination.
Many of the things mentioned above have been about the legal implications of homosexuality. That is only the tip of the iceberg. When one remembers the social ramifications of being gay in our society, it becomes apparent that heterosexuals have a somewhat “privileged” life. Take, for instance, the very idea of coming out. According to the Ali Forney Center, 25% of LGBT youth are still kicked out of their homes for coming out. According to the Center for American Progress 25-40% of all homeless youth are LGBT, yet only 5-10% of all youth in the US are homeless. 1 out of every 3 LGB youths attempt suicide at least once (Trevor Project). 1 out of 4 transgendered youths attempt suicide at least once. 61% of LGBT report feeling unsafe at school (GLSEN). 55% of transgendered students have reported being physically attacked at school. As shocking as these statistics are, only 5-6% of American students are LGBT.
No one is saying that heterosexuals should feel guilty about being who they are. Being straight is beautiful and wonderful because it makes people happy. At the same time, so does homosexuality. Until we, as a society, demand equal rights and treatment for all, we cannot grow. We can’t charge forward into the future. Every minority has had to fight for its rights. Right now, its the LGBT community. My hope is that this will be the last one; the last time that the majority reprimands and abuses a minority for doing or being something they have no control over.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

When Freedom Impedes Freedom

Living in the United States, we have a somewhat unique view of the world around us. We, like some other countries (i.e. Britain, France, etc.) have the ability to say, do, think, eat, write, and print practically anything we want. But is there ever a time when there is "too much freedom"? Is there some invisible line that we should draw in the sand to say what we can and can't allow? Some people feel like their moral compass is the Bible or the Koran; possibly even ancient Sanskrit writings. But in a society where we have almost anything we can imagine, how do we decide what is the best way for all of us to interact with one another? For example, the Westboro Baptist Church recently won a Supreme Court case that entitled them to continue their personal brand of propaganda. The court case was brought on by their picketing the funeral of a marine names Matthew Snyder. Their signs typically say things like, "God hates fags", "Semper Fi, Semper Fag", "God hates America", "Thank God for dead soldiers" and other atrocious phrases. The Supreme court decided 8-1 in favor to WBC saying that what they do is protected under the First Amendment (i.e. freedom of religion). Because their "church" is religiously affiliated and the websites they use are affiliated with their "church", it was decided that even though its "hate speech", they still have the right to it. The most paradoxical part of the entire situation is that the military men and women whose funerals WBC protests at are the ones who serve to protect their right to do it. Now for the big question, "Is that ok?" Can we allow in this day and age such hatred and violence? They say they are anti-violence but how can we be sure? And if one day, the do end up becoming violent in one of their protests, it will be a game of pointing fingers because we allowed them to gain this much ground. Conversely, is it really up to the government to tell them to stop? Is a violent religion still a religion that should be endowed all its rights? It is a very difficult and emotionally charged subject that doesn't seem to have a simple answer. As much as I detest their message and what they do, what other option is there? If we allow the government to put limits on a specific minority, then what's to say the same won't happen to another minority if the winds change. Let's say we have an influx in atheism to where it is the majority and we didn't set any precedents that protected religious beliefs...then it would be conceivable for the atheists to remove all rights from those individuals. As much as it sickens me to say, I'd have to say that I, in principle, agree with the court decision. Wow...did I really just do that? Now I feel like a bad person! ha HOWEVER: if any person from WBC gets a hold of this blog and reads it, let it be known that we are carefully watching you. You now have the national stage that you fought so hard to obtain and if you step even a hair past your legal boundaries, I will be one of THE FIRST people to rip you to shreds (not literally, I don't condone violence). Myself, and people like me, wouldn't hesitate for a minute to slap you with as many lawsuits as humanly possible. And as far as my personal opinion goes, I wish you guys weren't citizens so we could deport you (another thing I'm against in most cases). Ok. I know guys, weird post but I felt like I should put that out there into the never ending world of the internet. Feel free to comment but let me stress that we all have opinions and that is fine. We don't have to agree so if you're respectful of me, I'll do the same. :) I love you all so deeply and I hope you're out there making the world a brighter, more loving place. I'll leave you with a quote: "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ." -Ghandi

Go in peace.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Homosexual Intimacy

So I know I've been a tad out of touch as of late, but my schedule has been jam packed with escuela. Anygay, I'm back now for all of those out there who have been ever so patiently checking your computer screens for my most recent post. That being said, I'd like to move on to this post's topic: intimacy. The more I experience the homosexual culture, via my experiences and those of my friends, the more I realize a fundamental imbalance in how gays relate to one another. To that end, I started thinking, "Why are we all so afraid of commitment and other things that come along with our desire for relationships?" I believe I may have come up with a quasi-answer. The first problem, I think, is the fact that we're both males. Now that being said, I don't think that two men being together in theory is a bad thing. However, when you add in the socialization of the Western culture which has an underlying message to young males that philandering and multiple partners is somewhat acceptable, it's a recipe for disaster. Take a straight male and a straight female, for example. The male is subliminally taught that experiencing his sexuality with the opposite sex is okay and he is rewarded, either by his father or his peers, when he "nails a chick". Conversely, a female is taught that she should protect herself from the promiscuous ways of men. If she acts any way similar to a male (i.e. multiple partners) she is demonized or in some way inferior by our culture's standards. Now take this simple principle and apply it to two men that try to have a successful relationship. Two men, both trained that monogamy is not a priority and that immediate gratification should be sought at all cost. This brings me to my second point.

Another "flaw" of homosexual relations is the almost universal fear of intimacy. While this feeling is not exclusively homosexual, it seems to be a rather dominant occurrence in the failure of relationships. When I started to realize this, I came across another cognizance. Maybe our fear of intimacy is derived from the fear that our acts of affection will be met with hostility. Our whole lives, we have been told that our affections are unnatural, corrupt and immoral. Skip to 20 years later when you're trying to have a successful relationship and suddenly you have some uncontrollable fear to be intimate with the same sex. I'm not saying that every gay couple has these issues or even that every couple that separates can trace the problem back to this premise. What I am saying is that it seems to be a valid pressure point in homosexual relationships. And suddenly, after contemplating these two ideas, I had a third one! Imagine that, three ideas at a time. Tis why I'm so tired. The third proposition is as follows.

A proposition I'd like to make to my gay brothers and sisters is to reject the parts of our society that inhibit us to have healthy relationships. We are constantly told that our relationships are inferior, that our love is unhealthy or wrong. We are also told that we should force ourselves into traditional gender roles even when we are in a homosexual relationship. That is why I get so perturbed when people ask me if I'm "the boy or the girl". It is so ingrained in our psyche that in order to have a loving, healthy relationship, we must mimic the heterosexuals. I propose that we create our own paradigm; that we shed the archaic structures that have subjugated us and have attempted to conform our love into something it is not. I have no desire to be a female. I have no desire to be what our society has deemed "male". I reject traditional gender roles and stereotypes and I chose to live in a way the feels natural to me. Now, don't get all hot and bothered because I used that infamous "choice" word. The truth be known, there are a lot of choices in our "lifestyle". The inclination to find attraction is NOT a choice. What you do with those natural inclinations is, however, a choice. That being said, I relish in the idea that one day, a person will have no need to declare their orientation. The idea that a person can date another person without any fear of retribution is rather idyllic. Until that day comes, I hope we can find solace in our relationships and show the people around us that love is love. It needs no other influence than itself. Sidenote: The five states that have gay marriage also have five of the lowest divorce rates. Don't take my word for it though, there's plenty of knowledge available through Google. I love you all. Remember, it's not about being right or convincing others to conform to your ways. Life is about learning to coexist and loving in the process. I'll leave you with a quote as I so often do, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." -The Lovable, Dr. Suess.

Until next time!