“When you come out to people as bisexual they think you’re just…” Pipe started, “GREEDY.” Kim said automatically. I, Kasia, had to do a double take to this statement. I never heard that before, and I especially had never thought of it that way before. I attended a single sex school for most of my life, as I entered middle and high school I was surrounded by girls until my high school graduation. When it came to sexual orientation, I was aware of the term “BUG and LUG” the straight girls’ terms for “Bi-Until-Graduation” and “Lesbian- Until- Graduation.” Up until Judith Butler elaborated on the “performance” of gender, I thought it was just “something else” girls in my school did.
What Kim said stuck with me because I never thought of sexuality as something someone could be greedy with, so I turned to her and asked her what she meant? She said she heard people say and imply it was a choice to be bisexual, and it was greedy because a person wanted both men and women and that left little for others to “get with.” This is the point where our discussion really started, was sexuality really a choice, and when a person’s sexual preference was revealed to the world did things change because they accepted who they were or did the audience justify their actions with their “new found” identity?
Pipe believes when it comes to “coming out of the closet” people are more prone to connect dots where there should not be lines drawn. The expectation of a performance transforms the relationship between two people, especially people who are close to each other. We all either know or have heard of a case of someone who came out to their friends and family, and have been rejected for their sexuality. As we all come from traditional conservative cultures, we know generations older then ours do not easily accept homosexuality. We agreed structuralism played the major role in development of our cultures. Kim and I are Latin American, and the missionaries who established Catholicism in our countries molded our culture into a god-fearing homophobic society. Pipe said as a child in Nigeria she was not exposed to homosexuality to the extent American culture “accepts it.” When she first arrived and first had exposure to homosexuality, she said she ignorantly thought, “Well if their culture did not accept homosexuality then it wouldn’t exist.”
We all heard homophobic ideology at one point in our lives, Kim, however told us despite the traditional condemning of homosexuality in Latin America, it has been her observation that Dominican men “act gay” with each other. She says there is a point reached in men’s friendship where they begin to make sexual advances toward each other, and some men even grope each other. While this appears close to what our generation defines as a budding or healthy “bromance.” However, if a straight man did this to another straight man “he’d be acting mad gay.” (Mad in this context is slang for excessively) We have included two videos the first of a boy who recorded himself “twerking” (the act of dancing by moving your butt and hips usually performed by women) and the title of the video itself is “fathers please grab hold
of your sons.”As the screen shot YouTube comments show the public tried to justify his overly feminine dance by reflecting on his household. “He is raised by a single mother.” Or “where is this boy’s father?” were common responses to the video.
We then discussed the situation in sports arenas, if men were playing a game of football, one of the most masculine sports in American culture, and they were to slap each other’s butts as a congratulatory sign of appreciation, there would not be any rejection of the notion. However, if this were to happen in the locker room right after showers, men might freeze up and get defensive about being slapped on the behind. We later viewed a video called “wild gay: Spanish dudes dubbin’ to reggeaton” as the second half of the title showed the homophobic sentiment behind the publication of this video. The second half of the title in brackets serving as either a side note or serving as a reminder tries to engrain “no man should be dancing like this with their boys.” The comments are also very homophobic and categorical as they say these boys are “gay” or “gayer then gay.” At least that is the reaction of American subscribers because there is one comment, that is included with this blog as it was screen shot, and the author of the comment identifies his cultural background. While the comment may not appear to make sense, the YouTube member attempts to justify the dancing with cultural notes of how sexuality in those cultures is very explicit in their music and dancing, the kicker is that the person still believes there is a high probability these boys are gay.
For a girl there is a different reaction, if girls are going to through the “BUG” or “LUG” period of their lifetime, it’s okay. They can experiment, and since many men (as the dominant sex) find it “hot” it is much more accepted for a woman to be a lesbian and come out as a lesbian. Kim and Pipe, then pointed out there is a difference drawn down to two sentiments. The first “you’re NOT supposed to do it,” secondly: “it’s alright if you play around, just don’t commit.” Women are not supposed to settle down and start families with other women, but you can “mess around” with a woman. It appears that it is further accepted when there is mimicry of a heterosexual relationship. When a woman dresses like a man and is dating a woman who dresses like a woman, it is accepted in a way where people make jokes like “oh I see who wears the pants.” Judith Butler helps reiterate this sentiment when she says “Compulsory heterosexuality sets itself up as the original, the true, the authentic; the norm that the real implies that ‘being’ lesbian is always a kind of miming, a vain effort to participate in the phantasmatic plenitude of naturalized heterosexuality which will always and only fail.” (339) In our culture homosexuality and even the act of just coming out changes perceptions. People try to explain everything they do not understand and homosexuality is one, people who cannot relate to the situation then need to relate it to something they have been exposed to before.
In the culture of coming out Kim best sums up the performance, or rather people’s reaction when coming out when she compares it to how people identify her racially upon first meeting her:
“It’s like when people first meet me, they tell me that I am black and white. I correct them and tell them I am Dominican. They then take a step back and look at me again. ‘Ohhh, I can see it’ It’s like my face morphed all of a sudden! They try to put me in this mold but then everything I do justifies how Dominican I am.”
That’s what people try to do to any identity you reveal to them, they try to read everything you do and say “I can see it now.”