Guy Branum's "Yes, Nate Silver, You Are a Gay Statistician." Flawed on the face of it, and the commentariat doesn't disappoint. From BlkAth3st:
What disturbs me is that people within the LGBTQ community feel as if the LGBTQ community is some vestige of happiness and inclusion, when in fact we are quite the opposite. Nate Silver has the right to identify as sexually gay, but may have no connection whatsoever to the LGBTQ "community." Some people feel comfortable with having their identity determined by their class, gender, race, or sexual identity and others just want to be human, which is the position I think Mr. Silver has taken. Irregardless of his position, I think it is important to understand that for a community who is constantly seeking acceptance and inclusion from the heterosexual world, that we not recreate and perpetuate some of the very ideologies of heterosexism that we ourselves attempt to escape- such as defining a persons identity because of their behavior.Brian In Philly:
The premise of the article is that Nate has a Sacred Duty to be a self-sacrificing activist for our collective benefit -- something I don't really buy.There's a lot more good stuff in the comments, where Guy Branum's thoroughly taken to task. The gist of the article is that gays need to speak up because unlike race, homosexuality is (often) not readily identifiable, so the default cultural presumption is that you're straight. That last part is where it goes off the rails. No it's not right to presume someone is straight, this is where real progress is currently being made, and IMO this is is where we should be directing our efforts.
I think most of us want to be known as the brilliant researcher, hardworking teacher, awesome mechanic, or great neighbor... who happens to be gay. The minute I start getting pegged as "the gay fill-in-the-blank," I push back, because guess what -- I'm me.
I'm not representative of everyone else. I've got an aspect of myself that is identifying. Some will hold it against me (to their ultimate detriment). But Nate, and me, and everyone else, is so much more than "the gay fill-in-the-blank."
A few weeks ago we were watching Cloud Atlas, and we're introduced to Robert Frobisher, in bed with another man. Later Frobisher is shown seducing his boss's wife, and the person I was with said "But I thought he was gay?!" My point is, I made no such assumption. And I never do.
I suspect this is the growing trend, moreover that this is How Things Should Be. Anyone who's watched a lot of anime knows not to make assumptions on gender or sexual orientation, likewise for fans of the better kinds of science fiction. (I've been thinking that "Bonobo Utopia" would be a good title for a post on how bisexuality is the default assumption in a lot of Utopian fiction).
I read Silver's The Signal and the Noise last month, didn't know or care about his orientation, found out he was gay on the Wikipedia page about him a week later. I started reading Clive Barker back in high school, found out he was gay only about 3 years ago, which changed nothing at all about how I think of him or his books.
Back to On Gay Labels and Gay Memories:
However, I will keep calling myself a gay writer. If I wear a rainbow shirt and use a fluffy pen when writing about gay characters, it would be of little to no consequence. What matters is that I am a passionate writer who also happens to be proud of his sexual orientation. And if I become successful, I would prefer to be remembered as a successful gay writer and not simply a successful writer. Perhaps, when the time comes, I would figure out how I can be a gay freethinker, a gay photographer, or a gay teacher. For now, I am happy being a gay writer.Such self-pigeonholing seems an almost appalling waste of talent. I'm an atheist, a group recently polling as more reviled than gays or Muslims. Of course this isn't "my group's more oppressed than yours," but I've never thought of myself as an atheist writer, or any kind of X-ist writer/blogger/person/etc.
I have a dream. That someday, there will be openly gay characters on Cartoon Network, Sesame Street, and the Muppets. (Heck, the Muppets would probably be first.) The road to that isn't with gay characters, but with characters who also just happen to be gay.