Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Culture: So It's Not That They Are Gay

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Frankly, the spectacle going on in the United States right now about gays in the military is pathetic. Canada has allowed homosexuals to openly serve in its military since 1992, without any significant issues. For those of you who have issues with the effectiveness of the Canadian military (and if one is paying attention in Afghanistan, I really wonder why), then look to Israel, which has allowed gays and lesbians to serve since 1993 without affecting their effectiveness. In a time when having adequate soldiers to fight--particularly those with language and other specialized skills--is a central issue, turning away an otherwise-qualified and skilled individual because of their sexual orientation is bordering on insane. Does the United States not have as professional of a military as Israel or Canada?

Talk show host Dave Ross tried to understand what opponents of the repeal of the present "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy were really concerned about earlier this week on his KIRO-FM talk show in Seattle. Fifteen minutes into this podcast, he takes what I found to be a revealing call. The male caller stated that gays made him uncomfortable, calling himself a "guy's guy." When asked who else made him feel that way, he referred to "soft" office workers. Upon exploring the matter further, he admitted that "manly" gay men did not bother him. "It's not if you're homosexual or not, it's whether you're male dominant or not... it's effeminate guys."

While some small percentage of true homophobia does exist in this world, I suspect the attitude expressed by the caller is actually far more common; in many cases, it would effectively be indistinguishable from homophobia. There seem to be a fair number of people in the United States--almost all men--that just cannot handle any blurring of traditional gender roles, in particular effeminate men, gay or not. I really don't understand the psychology of the "guy's guys" that somehow feel threatened by effeminate men--the effeminate men are not likely to steal a mate from a "guy's guy," pose a physical threat, or threaten their social standing. Since there doesn't appear to be such an overt biological cause, it has to be an insecurity about themselves of some kind; I won't (and am not qualified to) speculate beyond that.

The amazing thing is that in the United States, compared with other countries, these insecure men apparently have more power than in other countries, as they've managed to keep gays out of the military, whereas they haven't in most of the rest of the developed world. It can't reflect well on the United States that this is the case.

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