Thursday, February 26, 2009

Homophobia? It's So Gay

Johann Hari has an intriguing article over at Huffington Post in which he not only explores the prevalence of homophobia in hip-hop culture but what it is that may fuel homophobia in general.

At one point, Hari interviews former MTV producer Terence Dean, author of the book, Hiding in Hip-Hop: On the Down Low in the Entertainment Industry – From Music to Hollywood.

Says Dean: “When the rappers rap about the hatred they have of homosexuals, I know it’s because many of them are struggling with their own sexuality. They hate what they are and in turn they spew their hatred toward men who are reflections of themselves.”

Reading Dean’s words I can’t help but think of the homophobic and/or homo-negative words of so many of the men in positions of authority within the Roman Catholic Church, and, of course, the teaching on homosexuality that such men promulgate and that groups like Courage promote. There seems to be so much self-loathing, fear and denial permeating and fueling such teaching and those who support them. I’d happily walk away from it all except that such homo-negativity on the part of the Church has such a damaging impact on gay people. It must be confronted and, if possible, transformed into something that reflects truth and is thus life-affirming and life-giving.

Well, enough of my rabble-rousing. Following are excerpts from Hari’s article.


I have always been slightly bemused by homophobia. Why would two adults (or ten) having consensual sex upset you? What’s it to you? A new expose of one of the West’s most rancidly anti-gay subcultures – hip-hop – offers the beginnings of an answer.

Hip-hop has long been the ultimate in fag-bashing, gay-trashing hate music. Listen to any album and a list of homophobic howls will hit you: Eminem squeaking “Hate fags? The answer's yes!”, or Masse saying “I be wastin’ em. That’s what you faggots get!” The music’s mood was summarized in a 1992 Ice Cube hit: “True niggaz ain’t gay.”

This boom-boom-boom of homo-cidal hate has a crushing effect on gay kids. It sends out the message: you are so repulsive you should be killed. It’s one of several reasons why gay teenagers are still – after all the amazing progress we have made – six times more likely to commit suicide than their straight siblings.

Why do they do it? Why do hip-hop artists – often the victims of bigotry themselves – incite this hatred?

For ten years, Terrence Dean was at the heart of the hip-hop scene as a producer at MTV and Warner Brothers. . . . I recently interviewed Dean for Attitude, Britain’s best-selling gay magazine. He told me about a man -- I don’t believe in outing, so I won’t give his name – who “has been named in the past as one of the biggest rappers of all time by MTV. He’s always trashing gay men in his lyrics. But he is surrounded by a posse of transvestites,” who he has sex with. Dean then runs through a list of hip-hop gays, each more famous and closeted than the last.

He explains: “When the rappers rap about the hatred they have of homosexuals, I know it’s because many of them are struggling with their own sexuality. They hate what they are and in turn they spew their hatred toward men who are reflections of themselves.”

Terence tried to live their life. He explains: “They had to see me with women. I talked the talk – cars, sports, women. One misstep would have been the end of my career. Hell, it would have been the end of my life.” But it was a miserable, bitter existence, based on violent emotional repression. These homie-sexuals even convinced themselves they could have sex with men without being “gay” – a term they see as synonymous with being weak and womanly.

. . . There is some scientific evidence suggesting Dean is right – and that his arguments apply much more widely, to homophobes in politics, religion and the wider world. Professor Henry Adams at the University of Georgia conducted a major study in the 1990s, where he took several groups of men who identified as heterosexual and expressed hostility to gays, and wired them up so the blood flow to their penises could be monitored. He then showed them gay porn – and some 80 percent became aroused. He concluded that since “most homophobes demonstrate significant sexual arousal to homosexual erotic stimuli,” anti-gay hatred is probably “a form of latent homosexuality.”

Of course, not all of these hate-mongers are secretly gay. But we know from decades of sexual research that almost everyone – especially as a teenager – has a period when they have omnivorous sexual urges, with attraction to the ‘wrong’ gender cropping up for a while. (Like most gay boys, I had a burst of heterosexual experiences when I was 15 and 16.) The question is: how do you deal with them? If you see this as an interesting, natural part of human experience, they will soon fade from your mind. If you see them as shameful or immoral, they will fester – and you will subconsciously project them outwards, onto the demonic, disgusting fags, who should be punished for tempting you.

How do we break through this? It has to start with honesty. Homosexuality is not some unnatural intrusion, wrought by demonic perverts, as the pre-modern religious texts so absurdly assert. It is an inevitable part of nature – birds do it, bees do it – and it is, fleetingly, part of the sexual development of most teenagers. If you are full of hate for homosexuals, the evidence suggests you have a psychological problem, based on denying part of yourself.

In short: homophobia? It’s so gay.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Humorous Look at Internalized Homophobia
What Is It That Ails You?
The Pope’s “Scandalous” Stance on Homosexuality
Homosexuality and the Priesthood
Stop in the Name of Discriminatory Ideology!


kevin57 said...

It's called "projection," one of the most common ego defense mechanisms going.

Nevertheless, I did find the Univ. of Georgia study interesting...and sad.

I have often pondered and been perplexed by the same question raised at the beginning of the article, "Just why would anybody care about whom someone is loving?" What is it about two men kissing that troubles and infuriates so many "heterosexual" men? Strange.

Anonymous said...

Very insightful and revealing article. It continues to prove that overt homophobic actions are, many times, just indicative of underlying homosexual tendencies that males unfortunately won't allow themselves to give in to because of the notion that being "gay" would ruin their alpha-male facade of what being a man is supposed to be.

It hurts me that homophobia has become popular within the hip-hop community. The fact that its supposed to be cool to gay bash within this particular subculture I think can be traced back to a whole other issue. The extent of homophobia within the African American community...But this isn't an issue that I'd like to talk about at length here.

I think the main problem is that being gay is the ultimate fear of every heterosexual man. Part of the problem is that, through no fault of their own of course, our society has made homosexuality equivelent with effeminism and flamboyancy. How many gay men are there who have even harder times coming out of the closet because they aren't flamboyant or effeminate but are masculine acting to the core? I read a great article in Out magazine about a movie that SNL's Andy Samberg is releasing next month. In it, he plays a stereotypical heterosexual male. Loves beer, watches football compulsively, but yet he's gay. I think this is what our culture needs. Perhaps the notion of homosexuality being a choice would fade if we were presented with more men who were stereotypically masculine. This might further solidify, if by nothing but external factors, that being gay isn't something you is an orientation and a gift given to you by Almighty God.

So I think people like Neil Patrick Harris and other "man's men" who have come out of the closet have done a great service to our country by showing that gay men aren't solely the stereotypical prissy stereotypes we might see on Sex and the City or Queer Eye...

And I think that all that I have said could benefit the Church as well in their understanding of human sexuality.

Anonymous said...

In answer to the question "why would anyone care about who somebody else loves?" --I think its a sad fact that a part of humanity seemed conditioned somehow to need to look down on someone/group. It was blacks, then gays, now immigrants. It's always somebody. It allows some folks I guess to feel better about themselves. We get rid of one, then another takes their place.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Thanks, everyone, for your insightful comments.



Anonymous said...

Thank you for a lovely insightful post. Actually during puberty or adolesecence period espeially boys or girls studying in same gender schools develop homosexual feelings. It can be the first real exposure to sex. Although afterwards many of them have straight sexual orientations and do not admit this.But this can remain in the subconscious mind and can resurface afterwards too.