Cafe Discussion 3: Adam and Mishell

Transnational LGBT Identities: Liberation or Westernization

Mishell: I found it very interesting that the father of Linda was okay with him being feminine and looking like a woman, but the minute he chose to stop the hormones and accept himself as a gay man his father was angered. I think this really puts up front the importance of binary identities and how society is okay and accepting as long as one falls under either category of male or female but when those binary identities are bent, such as in gay men, they are seen as wrong.

Adam: Going off Mishell, analyzing the father is a very interesting path to take because it allows one to analyze the culture and what the culture expects you to believe in. The fact that Linda’s father cared more dressing across race and upset at the disruption it would have on their ancestral heritage and less about not being a man, it speaks volumes about what their culture is about. What I get from this story, regarding their culture, is how tradition based they are and religious.

Mishell: Exactly, religious and very worried about the public’s opinions of their families. This reminds me of the Japanese advice column presentation we had in class today. How in the Japanese society, a man can be gay and explore that side of his identity which is accepted by those around him. However, he must marry a woman, and partake in the “procreation process” that they see marriage as. The whole idea that you can do whatever you want with your private life but you must show a face that represents the structural system of the society in which one lives in. These Japanese gay men can still be gay as long as they are married to a woman, Linda can still be gay as long as he dresses and acts like a woman.

Adam: hmmmm, I agree. I think that it will take a really long time to let go of these binary characteristics we have all grown up with and it starts with teaching the young generations.

My question then is are you really gay if your culture doesn’t recognize it? In Dr. Stoddard’s paper about Liberation or Westernization, she mentioned the men in Athens and how they would have sex with their boy mentees. The story about the British school boys having sex with the young boys also intrigues me. Because they do not recognize those activities as gay for they end up in heterosexual marriages, but are they not gay activities? Why is that okay and not the rest?

Mishell: I believe it all depends on the society, and what they choose to recognize and what they chose to turn an eye to. Like you said, it will take a long time to really bend those binary identities and stop trying to label everything or prohibit happiness just because it does not look “normal.”


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