“ Lesbian culture and lesbian participation in more generalized gay cultures – fascinate me.”
“ Rather than roaming around in a general survey of lesbian cultures in an attempt to tease out the implications of these dynamics, I prefer to concentrate on the involvement of lesbians and gay men in one set of cultural institutions – those that comprise ‘cinema’ and related mass media.”
Homosexuality cannot be diagnosed or defined by medical or legal standards.
Stuart Hall outlines ‘two different ways of thinking about cultural identity’
Group people of the same historical and cultural experiences under one identity.
People make their own distinctions of their identity instead of grouping themselves as one.
Pg 194 In a conversation with four black women writers, poet and critic Jewelle Gomez observes, ‘ Words carry a certain amount of power-legitimate or not…The word “lesbian” has taken on a negative power… And for black women, “lesbian” has been a very white word. Coming out became a primary principle of the gay rights movement in the early seventies, invented as a political strategy based on the positive public declaration of sexual desire. Several companies and broadcasting networks try to stay away from shows with gay content due to the possibility of lower ratings.
Public lesbian cultures in the U.S., are historically rooted in the urban working classes. Should we applaud the appearance in mass media of characters who” happen to be gay,”? Or is it preferable to support work that portrays different sexual practices and cultures? To what extent must a gay or lesbian filmmaker work with the homophobic fears of straight viewers, distributors and exhibitors?
Are lesbian and gay film or television screenings regressive, preventing the recognition of lesbian and gay sexualities as components of “human sexuality”? Or do these events help create solidarity? How does one defend the process of selection for these kinds of events determined by identity? If a gay filmmaker makes a film about something that has nothing to do with being gay, is that a gay film? If as straight filmmaker makes a film with lesbians in it is that a lesbian film?
Pg. 192 ‘ There is an implicit understanding in gay cinema that homosexuality is not a sexual preference… that homosexuals are born homosexual and that homosexuality is not a chosen activity but a state of being. ‘ Vito Russo, in Film Comment ‘ The [gay] New Wave abandons the myth of an innate gay identity, focusing instead on the particularities of sexuality in a given culture.’ Richard Goldstein, in the Village Voice ‘ Perhaps it’s time to discard lesbianism – and homosexuality – as a subject. Offhandedness may be the most progressive politics of the day…’ Marcia Pally, in Film Comment
Author tries to break stereotypes that men with homosexual orientation are white.
Gay men of colour have to go through two degradations:
Specific events that changed authors perspective was at the gay
disco bar where there was picket line of people protesting triple carding.
Watching antigay video Gay Rights, Special Rights promoted gays as white, young and wealthy. Military refused to lift policy on allowing homosexuals to be recruited in military (eg. Perry Watkins thrown out of military for having homosexual orientation). CMS (Campaign for Military Service) activists promoted idea that gay rights movement was like civil rights movement.
Meeting with HIV-negative men the author feared to bring up issue of the group’s whiteness due to fear in peers losing trust in him.
In the fight for gay rights they used practices used by whites:
- making race analogies
mirroring whiteness of men who run powerful institutions to win
credibility and acceptance
excluding people of colour from gay institutions -selling gay as white to raise money and make profit
Being white gave unearned privileges to white gay males
How we simplify human differences:
Good determined by profit rather than human need = systemized oppression.
The Blacks, 3 rd world people, working class, elders and women.
Audre Lorde: a 49 year old, black, lesbian, feminist, socialist mother of two and part of an inter-racial relationship
OPPRESSION: The groups defined as other and inferior are the ones who end up trying to bridge gaps between themselves and oppressors. AS TEACHERS: Blacks and 3 rd world people are to educate the whites. Women to educate the men. Homosexuals to educate the heterosexuals. DIFFERENCES: How we deal with differences: ignore, copy it or destroy it. How do treat human differences as equal? It is not the differences that separate us but the refusal of acknowledging them and misnaming which effects behaviour and expectations.
Differences discriminated against by:
We pretend these differences don’t exist or that they are undefeatable rather than to recognize them. What does it mean to recognize them?
NORMS AND OTHERS: Norms of white, thin, young, heterosexual, male Christians who are financially secure. Within women’s movement white women focus on the oppression but forget the issues of the other women such as race, sexual preference, class and age. Literature poetry has become a major voice in the working class, poor and coloured (women) due to its lack of space, equipment and time. Whose arts whose?
AGEISM: By ignoring the past we’re encouraging the repetition of mistakes. Bridging the generation gap is an important part of overcoming our past. Why do we ignore our past? OLDER WOMEN: Repeat and relearn the same old lessons over that our mothers did because we do not pass on what we learned or because we are unable to listen. How many times have you heard something similar to this before? Does this relate to you from a daughter point of view? WOMEN: Ignoring the difference of race and implications of it is a threat to the unity of women. White women ignore their privilege of being white defining women within in their own context of their experiences as women of colour become the outsider with experiences too “difficult” to comprehend. What are some experiences a colour women may feel that a white woman may not?
IMAGES OF B WOMEN: Audre believes the reason white women have trouble reading Black women’s work is because of their reluctance to see black women as women and different from themselves. You need to consider them as a whole with all their complexities. SHARED OPPRESSION: Black men and women share racial oppression in different ways. Joint defence and joint vulnerability that are shared but it is not the same in white communities. Some black women do not recognize their oppressed as women within the black community and not only by the whites racist community. Coloured women as a whole is the lowest paid in America and the primary target of abortion and sterilization abuse. LESBIANS IN BLACK COMMUNITIES: The fear of lesbianism or being accused of being one has lead to many black women testifying against themselves creating despair and isolation. Black heterosexual women tend to ignore the existence and work of Black lesbians.
Cont’d... Female self assertion is consider to be sign of lesbianism. To depart and no longer depend on men for self-definition is a signal that another may be a lesbian. Black women who thought lesbianism was a white woman’s problem considered it to be a threat to Black nationhood. Theses are the same Black women that Black lesbians may look to for support. JOIN FORCES: It is not the matter of difference that separates women but the resistance to recognize the difference and deal with the distortion that resulted from misnaming and ignoring. Must recognize differences among women as equal and figure out how to use it to build up visions and to fight our struggles.
Should we applaud the appearance in mass media of characters who” happen to be gay,”? Or is it preferable to support work that portrays different sexual practices and cultures? To what extent must a gay or lesbian filmmaker work with the homophobic fears of straight viewers, distributors and exhibitors? Are lesbian and gay films preventing their recognition of sexuality as components of “human sexuality”? Or does it help create solidarity? How does one defend the process of selection for these kinds of events determined by identity? If a gay filmmaker makes a film about something that has nothing to do with being gay, is that a gay film? If as straight filmmaker makes a film with lesbians in it is that a lesbian film?
We pretend these differences don’t exist or that they are undefeatable rather than to recognize them. What does it mean to recognize them? Why do we ignore our past? Repeat and relearn the same old lessons over that our mothers did because we do not pass on what we learned or because we are unable to listen. How many times have you heard something similar to this before? Does this relate to you from a daughter point of view? What are some experiences a colour women may feel that a white woman may not?
How does the category “gay men” become white? Discuss. Why is there a separation of white gays and coloured gays?