Friday, 1 October 2010

Why are you downplaying the homophobia?

After Tyler Clementi tragically committed suicide there have been a lot of media reports and blogging about his death and the events that lead up to it.

And there has been a great huge rush of straight people moving mountains to say that the fact this was 2 men kissing that was webcammed, or the fact that this could have outed Tyler had zero impact on this whole thing. I’ve seen reports that didn’t mention it, reports that downplayed it as much as possible and reports that outright denied and chance of homophobia and CHIDED the sensitive gays about it and obsessing about making him a “gay icon.” No, he wasn’t an icon – he was a victim and we do acknowledge that rather than trying to brush it under the rug.

The tweet from his room mate who did this to him expressly mentioned he was with another man. Not “he wants the room for the night, I’ll set up the webcam and stream whatever sex he‘s having.” No, it expressly referenced him “making out” with another guy.

Gay sexuality is often played as something freakish display, something to point and stare at or be disgusted by. He even referenced the webcam by “daring” people to watch. Yes, so daring to assault your eyes with the two men kissing.

In fact, on a gay website where it is believed Tyler sought advice about the whole incident he may have said (it’s still not 100% sure that the user on the website was Tyler, but it was a Rutgers IP and the events he described seem very similar)

“so the other night i had a guy over. I had talked to my roommate that afternoon and he had said it would be fine w/him. I checked his twitter today. he tweeted that I was using the room (which is obnoxious enough), AND that he went into somebody else’s room and remotely turned on his webcam and saw me making out with a guy.

“I guess what he was doing was…he was in another person’s room, with other people… and so I feel like it was ‘look at what a fag my roommate is’ … and the fact that the people he was with saw my making out with a guy as the scandal whereas i mean come on…he was SPYING ON ME….do they see nothing wrong with this?”

But homophobia had zero part in all this?

Was Tyler gay? I don’t know. However, whether he was or wasn’t doesn’t change that this was a homophobic act that lead to this young man’s death.

And frankly I boggle at the people who look at this tragedy and their response is “You’re calling him gay?! HOW DARE YOU?!” because that is totally the issue, right? You see this and one of your first thoughts – hells, your tenth thought – is “how dare they call him gay?” then there’s something wrong with you.

And double points if you think calling him gay somehow denigrates, insults, stigmatises or disrespects him. Being gay is not an insult, seriously.