Gays in the American mind

The issue over the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” has been appearing in the media quite a few times over the past few months. It looks to me like people in government like John McCain are stalling. Awhile back on “The Daily Show” with John Stewart, a clip of an interview of McCain was shown. In it he said in so many words that if the military itself were O.K with it, then he too would support the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell”. It seems that most people in the military these days are indeed in favor of letting homosexuals serve openly, or at the least don’t think that homosexuals doing so would pose a problem. Still there is dithering. McCain seems to want a more in depth study. And for reasons that are beyond my understanding Barak Obama seems to be hindering the process as well even though this was something he said he would address during his election campaign.

Homophobia is definitely at the root of theses events. Perhaps neither Barak Obama nor John McCain are homophobic themselves, but they are certainly pandering to people who are. How do we deal with that? I got to thinking, and I believe the problem is more pervasive then it seems on the surface. I find that homophobia is somewhat different then the bigotry of race and ethnicity. You don’t hear about laborers complaining that gays took their jobs. Homosexuals did not emigrate here from some other exotic land. There was no initial first contact situation. They where always found in every culture. One might say that homosexuals have formed a subculture, but I would counter by saying that even within this subculture most values are shared with the greater culture. I struggle to come up with an explanation of what may have happened in the past that created this rift in our society. Perhaps it is because our fist example of how people relate to each other is our parents and their relationship. For the most of us they are heterosexual. And this becomes normal for nearly all of us perhaps even toughs of us that were not raised in a traditional family. Carl Jung talks about the “mother” as an archetype. According to Jung the mother is a universally understood concept ingrained in our collective unconscious. It’s an interesting idea. That is of course, if you believe in that sort of psycho-babble. But let’s run with it for a second. We all have this concept of “The Mother” it is almost a sacred thing. We also have the idea of what it means to be masculine or feminine. From this we might deduce other things. We might construct ideas like what it means to be a family and over time they become second nature to us. They become a template of what we think the world should be like. We project them on to the external world and create a culture. But do we have any archetypes that are for lack of a better word gay? We equate certain virtues with masculinity bravery strength and so on. Other virtues are associated with femininity sensitivity and the like. They might be totally inaccurate, but they are there. I think that even some of the positive stereotypes that we assign to various races and ethnicities could be considered virtuous. Asians are intelligent. African Americans are good at sports. Again, this is bigoted and inaccurate, but it at least gives theses groups some sort of place in the grater culture. Does the typical American think that the stereotypical homosexual has any qualities that make him or her excellent? Do homosexuals have folk heroes? Most white people know the story of John Henry the steel driving man. A white person could look at this African American legend and see it as admirable. He then may then grow to have admiration for his African American neighbor. Homosexuals don’t have this kind of advantage. That’s why I think that the traditional tactics of education about and exposure to homosexuals will be ineffective in the end. Despite all of the visibility that homosexuals have been gaining they are still invisible to the human psyche.

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One Response to Gays in the American mind

  1. acute73 says:

    Wow! One of the best blogs I have read here. Excellent display of thoughts and ideas. I don’t agree with every single aspect but I do love the way you were able to break down your thoughts and grab my attention and keep it. I do believe a “Psyche” can change with education. I believe we fear what we cannot understand as a human race. I think there is hope!

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