Experimentation and Accepting Homosexuality

Alex Apkin

A big problem in society today is the constant use of the word gay in a negative fashion. This seems to have become pervasive in younger people. You would think that the older generations who are more traditional and conservative for the most part would be the sole sources of these negative remarks. However the younger generation considered more liberal and forward thinking, is the one that uses gay as a derogatory word the most. It seems that our youth is split into various groups. Those that constantly use gay in the derogatory way because they truly feel this sense of hate towards gays and feel they are lesser than those that are heterosexual. Then there is the group that simply doesn’t consider the meaning of the words they choose. They use gay because it’s the thing to do and they are accustomed to insulting others through the word gay. Some of the people that may fit into this group too are those that do not want to constantly use gay in that damaging way but feel extreme pressure from their peers to do so. Finally we have the group that escapes the pressures felt by others and does not use the term gay in that way and advocates others not to as well. The group examined in the Froyum reading would fit into the category of those who have some amount of real hate towards gays and therefore use the term in a derogatory way. The rest of the people in these cultures must conform and feel a real pressure to do so from those around them. A major frustration is the group that really doesn’t think about what they are saying and says what they believe is cool and therefore correct as well. While these people may not have anything against homosexuality they can’t take a step back and realize what they are saying. They simply move forward with the norms and what is popular and almost natural.

For those who are gay life can become difficult in certain neighborhoods, if these young people do not push themselves as far away from their homosexuality and prove their straightness they will be immediately ridiculed for the slightest signs of being gay, clothing, talk, posture, the way they carry themselves in general and what activities they participate in. Carissa Froyum the author of this piece gives the example of Trenton claiming to feel threatened by cross dressers. Irrationally fear the gay man. Fear of not knowing what gender the person is scared by this confusion of someone acting out of the norms society has created with two concrete genders. Men dress a certain way suit and tie, women wear dresses. Men are tough, women are sensitive, and women wear makeup while men do not. The people who step out of these boundaries of gender alarm certain people because they think it is incorrect to do so, that its not allowed but it is a natural occurrence. Not all people men are the same and not all women are either. Trenton and others turn this unusual behavior where people don’t conform exactly to their gender, into a fear that they will act out inappropriately as they act inappropriately.

The reason for gay being negative is not necessarily religion but may be guy culture. As we have learned in viewing Tough Guise the importance of acting tough is crucial in guy culture and as a male our society. Part of acting tough and being a proper man is not being gay. Guy culture endorses being strong, emotionless, and violent. These are not descriptions that are generally associated with gay men, who are considered to be clean, sensitive, weaker, and more feminine overall. To be gay or to be called gay by another man is to be considered feminine and far from manly, which is not acceptable in guy culture. I feel as though this has been a larger influence over the bashing of homosexuals and has created the negative association with the word gay. This therefore rings especially true in the areas similar to the one at Urban Youth Network in the D.C. area. In rough neighborhoods that may feature gangs and violence the idea of being gay is far from acceptable because the importance of being a “real man” is far too important. It is a tough tone to break especially when adults such as the staff of the UYN are also anti gay. Froyum brings up Jerod a gay teen, who is harassed by his peers but then also by the staff at UYN. She says, “They teased and ostracized gender gender benders as gay or lesbian, and they humiliated gay boys and lesbian girls by drawing attention to their gendered behaviors.”(Froyum 615) With examples such as this it is apparent that there is a deep-seated problem with many communities in our society, and the acceptance of homosexuality could be hard to reach quickly in these places.

In Queer Women in the Hookup Scene we see a different aspect of the hookup culture. The aspect of girls hooking up with girls is explored. Many of the same elements applied to these encounters as did with Grinding on the Dance Floor. Firstly there is the clear element of the male being in charge again. Many times when a two girls hookup it is because of the pressure they feel to please the males that surround them just like the pressure they feel on the dance floor to not hurt the man’s feelings and please him. Here again the role of alcohol consumption is considered very important and can be used as an excuse for however the girl behaves. However while it seems that most quickly assume that girls just make out for the guys enjoyment there are some girls who discover some joy on their end as well and do it for themselves not the guys.

Experimentation can lead in different directions. Multiple women discover their true sexual inclination by experimenting with other women. So really this can be a great way to explore yourself. Through the aid and protection of alcohol and the acceptable setting for these explorations girls feel comfortable exploring themselves. Finally the ways in which women would approach parents presented another interesting aspect of the story. More than one girl admitted that is was much easier to tell their parents that they were bisexual rather than lesbian because this would soften the blow. This reading brought out many facets of this experimentation culture in many colleges and more positives than I would have expected.

8 thoughts on “Experimentation and Accepting Homosexuality

  1. Brittany Juliano

    I really enjoyed reading your post, Alex. I think your point about Tough Guise 2 is absolutely right. While reading both of the articles there were obvious connections, but I did not think back to Tough Guise 2 like you did. Whether you are looking at Rupp et al or Froyum’s article, it is clear that the boys all follow the same script that is discussed within the documentary. Like you mentioned, this includes protecting a strong, emotionless, masculine identity from ridicule, while also being strictly non-feminine. This aversion to femininity ultimately supports the male-dominated hook-up culture and perpetuates that type of behavior from men.

  2. Gina Pol

    I very much agree with your statement on the pervasiveness among youth who use the term gay in a very negative fashion. I found that to be the major difference in both readings that we had. While “Queer Women in the Hookup Culture” consisted of a sample of college students who were older and more willing to experiment with sexuality, “At Least I’m not Gay” consisted of a sample of youth who were younger and less willing to experiment with sexuality. The sample from “At Least I’m not Gay” had a perception of those who were gay and unchangingly kept that view. They stuck with the idea that being homosexual meant being powerless and being heterosexual meant being superior. On the other hand, the sample from “Queer Women in the Hookup Culture” were exposed to more academic and scholarly writing on sexual fluidity, which may have made it more acceptable to experiment in college for them.

  3. Sophie Furman

    I loved the line in your post “reason for gay being negative is not necessarily religion but may be guy culture.” It really struck me because it reminds me exactly of the Guy Code that we read, one of the biggest “rules” about being a guy is that you can’t in any way shape or form represent girls. Then the question is what’s so bad about girls? While some guys love hooking up with girls, hanging out with girls etc. they still would never want to be them or resemble them because that’s stepping away from their masculinity, and once they’ve done that they’ve entered into a zone that isn’t comfortable for them because of the lessons they’ve been taught their whole life. Thus leading us to the “gay” being a negative connotation, but it’s not fair and it shouldn’t be the case. I guess the question is how do you change it and is there a way for families to change the guy code while growing up so males don’t feel this way.

  4. Karen Cardona
    I have a very close friend who is openly gay and we often sit down and have conversations regarding how he decided to finally come out. He mentioned to me that throughout high school he never felt safe exploring or exposing his sexuality due to the large amount of hate that teenage boys have against the queer culture. He mentioned to me that one of his class mates had gotten beat for dressing to “feminine” , and the other boy who was openly gay in the school got mocked and bullied on the daily bases. He expressed that at times he wished he was a queer woman that way it’ll be much easier to express sexuality and to embark on experiment. He mentions how girls that kiss girls get praised and often times become popular since they are now labeled as ‘hot girls’. The question that i have here is , do women have it much easier when it comes to coming out? or it it much harder to come to the conclusion that their sexuality is being used to to please sexual fantasies amongst immature males?

  5. Bianca Scofield

    Because you brought up the negative use of the word gay, I would just like to mention an interesting book that I read in American Studies last semester. I read Gay New York by George Chauncey. It was the huge book that described the gay culture of the early 20th century before gays were “closeted”. It is interesting because the word gay was not really use negatively until poor white heterosexual men were questioned because of their socioeconomic status. These poor white heterosexual men then turned to criticize gays as a way of gaining social status. Therefore the negative use of the word gay was born. Nowadays, teenage minorities use that same word negatively to gain social status. Hence, “at least I’m not gay”.

  6. Your point that it is difficult for gay people “in certain neighborhoods” doesn’t really ring true to me. Gay people may face less direct discrimination in certain areas, sure. But we have also created a society which inherently stacks homosexuality as the lesser. I’m reminded of the microaggressions project that one of the groups in class is doing here: we have created things to say out loud–or not even that–images of the world–which place heterosexuality as the ideal. I think that it is pretty clear that if a person is not thought of as the “ideal” they become subhuman and our society has made it allowable, if not encouraged, in some ways, to abuse the people who are non-“ideal”.

    Patrick Gallagher Landes

  7. Jihmmy N. Sanchez

    You make a very good point in your article, I agree that it is very incorrect that people who openly want to express who they are but cannot because of the neighborhood they happen to be in is a dangerous one. All of this ties into the culture of Guyland. In previous articles that we’ve read state that it is more common for athletes and young males of color (hispanic, and African-American) to value the ideals of GuyLand. One being that you must never show emotion and must always follow a script that has been laid out for you about what it means to be a real man. You must abide by this script and if you deviate from the script you will have severe consequences. For the UYN youth it becomes very easy to grab a hold of sexuality and deem it as something that they can police and control. Just because they live below the poverty line, they are not provided the same opportunities that other males (not of color) are provided.

  8. Zoe Halpert

    When I was reading the article about queer women in the hookup scene, I really wished I knew more about queer theory. I found it interesting how a woman might identify as heterosexual, but participated and enjoyed sexual activity with another female. I was struck by how in the chart of the sexual identities of interviewees, one of the categories was “heterosexual/mostly straight” suggesting that just because someone identifies as heterosexual doesn’t mean their sexual practices consistently align with that identity.

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