Queer I Stand
Unlikely Allies and the End of Homophobia
One of the best antidotes for homophobia is for someone—especially, it has to be said, heterosexual cisgendered males, who tend to be the worst homophobes—to be as comfortable and integrated in their own sexuality as possible. It is almost impossible to undermine the confidence of a sexually-secure male of this sort, and it is also almost impossibly difficult to find individuals who fit this description in our current culture. (I can only think of a handful that I know personally at the moment, which is sad.) Whether Glenn Beck is one such individual or not I cannot surmise, but I've recently encountered two others who are somewhat high-profile: one is an American that nearly everyone familiar with popular culture for the last twenty years has heard of, and the other is a British comedian who is very familiar across the pond, but of whom many Americans may have never heard.
The American is George Clooney. There have been various rumors of him being "secretly gay" for a number of years now. His response, however, has been rather exemplary:
"I think it's funny, but the last thing you'll ever see me do is jump up and down, saying, 'These are lies!' That would be unfair and unkind to my good friends in the gay community. I'm not going to let anyone make it seem like being gay is a bad thing. My private life is private, and I'm very happy in it. Who does it hurt if someone thinks I'm gay? I'll be long dead and there will still be people who say I was gay. I don't give a shit."
At last, a mature cisgendered American adult who has actually demonstrated that he's beyond the middle school playground level of maturity!
The British comedian I alluded to above is Alan Davies, who stars on the hit show Q.I., and who had a stand-up comedy show last year called Alan Davies: Life Is Pain, which you can watch on YouTube. In the most understated, nonchalant , and charming fashion I've ever seen a cisgendered heterosexual do so, he began several parts of his routine with, "So, I've never had the gay sex." While his phrasing of it might seem a bit odd, trust me, he says it with utter innocence and not an ounce of malice. At no point does he follow this up with "Because I'm not a poof!" which almost any American comedian would add. No small number of American actors who have played gay roles on film or television have then gone on talk shows afterward proving in every way possible that they are "just as manly" (and often sexist, rude, and homophobic) as they ever had been before "being paid to play gay." He almost makes it sound like it is not only a possibility that everyone should consider, but he even seems to make a case at some points that it might have been "interesting" to have at least tried it to make sure... and, that's not something he's joking about, the jokes are around other matters that come up in his discussion of these topics. This is a man very secure in his sexuality, indeed!
In a speech I gave in 1998, at an event I organized called "Coming Out Heterosexual" at the Jesuit university I was attending for my M.A. at the time, I commented that the sign of ultimate progress in combating homophobia would be for non-gay people to be mistaken for gay, and yet not having to refute the accusation, and the accusation being made in the first place not as an accusation but instead just as a matter of honest and benign inquiry.
The latter has not happened yet, and "outing" of various individuals still goes on in ways that are not always lacking in malice or having detrimental intentions (and not even for individuals who have gained from a public stance of homophobia and thus "deserve" to be outed).
But, it seems, the former is happening more and more, and will no doubt continue. I had hoped in 1998 that it would start occurring before my life ends; fifteen years is actually not a bad timetable for it to have started in noticeable numbers.
P. Sufenas Virius Lupus is a metagender and a founding member of the Ekklesía Antínoou (a queer, Graeco-Roman-Egyptian syncretist reconstructionist polytheist religious group dedicated to Antinous, the deified lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and other related gods and divine figures). E is a contributing member of Neos Alexandria and a Celtic Reconstructionist pagan in the filidecht and gentlidecht traditions. Follow Lupus' work on the Aedicula Antinoi blog.