Friday, October 24, 2014

"That's so Gay"

 Anti-Homophobia Poster
Homophobia, or the persecution of homosexuals, is one of the major topics of debate in our country, and has been for many years. Webster’s Dictionary defines homophobia as “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals." A major issue surrounding homophobia has been persecution in the digital world.

Homophobia online, and cyber bullying in general, is a huge problem. With little or no restrictions on what people can say online, words like “faggot” are tossed around carelessly in video game chat rooms, YouTube comments, and other places without people knowing or not caring that they could actually be hurting someone’s feelings.  According to Gay Activist, between the ages of ten and twenty-four, nearly fifteen percent of gay and bisexual men have either tried to harm themselves or commit suicide. As stated by Infoplease, between 1950 and now, suicide rates for all teenagers between the age of fifteen and twenty four has more than doubled, increasing from 450,000 a year to an astounding 1,050,000. Since the incorporation of social media into our daily lives, suicide rates have increased dramatically. It is fair to assume that this is at least in part due to online homophobia, because people encounter so much more bullying and harassment online than they would outside of social media. According to Psychology Today, almost half of all people online experience some type of homophobia.

Before technology became part of our daily lives, bullies had to say stuff to people’s faces. Now, those bullies were bad enough, but there was always a knowledge that people were watching, and that they couldn’t do too much. Now, online, those boundaries have been thrown out the window. Without having the face-to-face contact, bullies can use masks of anonymity to say whatever they like without fear of retribution.

Something I don't understand is why do people feel the need to squash other's happiness by connecting with them online and saying hateful things.  Even if your personal view differ from those of others, and there is nothing wrong with that, they are your opinions, you don't need to go trying to impose your opinions on others. It is people like this, who believe that they must “save” all the sinners in the world and convert them to their way of thinking, that spark this homophobia. I am going to ask you all briefly to try to put yourself in a situation where you are the one being persecuted.  To give you an idea of what this might be like, here is a very powerful and moving  movie showing what it would be like if being gay was the norm.

Love is All You Need? (Wingspan Pictures)

Some people might even say that it is a choice that people are gay.  That gay people could just... turn it off.  With all the persecution that goes on, why on earth would anybody choose to be gay? We all may have our different opinions on the subject of homophobia, but it is the people that try to force others into their way of thinking by posting comments online that really affect people. The Washington Post published an article with brain research behind heterosexuality and homosexuality. They concluded that gay men’s brains are actually more like that of straight women’s, and vice versa. It is not a choice, people, it is who they are, and there is no changing it.

There are some things that “the common folk” can do about this. If you hear someone say “faggot” over the microphone in a video game, say very loudly and clearly back: “I am leaving because you said that,” and then exit the game. If you see someone has left a nasty, homophobic comment on a site, post a comment of your own stating that you are not going to use this site anymore because of what people are saying on it. Doing things like this, drawing attention to the issue, and convincing people that there is a problem. Many people still don’t think that there is a problem with homophobia. “The defense of marriage act got struck down, there must not be a problem anymore.” The first step to fixing a problem is recognizing that there is one.

What we need to do is to fight cyberbullying with different methods than we have been doing to fight regular bullying, and on a much more profound and larger scale. We have started to see slight improvements within the past few years on this particular issue. Websites have started to monitor the comments people are posting, and removing them if they are offensive. This is something that cannot be done in a chat room. At the same time, you could make the argument that monitoring what people say to each other online is suppressing their free speech. It is a very tough debate, and the end result is most likely do nothing, or take down the chat rooms in the first place.

We need LGBT teens to know that there are people out there who do support them, who do love them for who they are. We can all agree that bullying is bad, yet so many people do it, and so many people will just watch and let it happen. Websites like the “It Gets Better Project” are great examples of sites that LGBT teens can turn to for help and support. Don’t listen to the people online, because everyone is beautiful on the inside.

Bibliography



Conclusion/Reflection:

My thoughts on homophobia have not really changed very much throughout this project. Since people mainly agreed with my view in their comments, I saw no need to change it. People did post some good articles, which I have read and was very intrigued by. But one question seemed to pop up occasionally, and I wanted to answer it for all of those people out there who are wondering. Why do people discriminate against gays? I think it is the same reason that racism and sexism and still around. People will discriminate against people who appear weaker than themselves, and also people who are different. I wish it weren’t so, but my view is still that the use of the internet only makes it easier for homophobes to speak their minds, and affect even more people without even identifying themselves. Without face to face contact, bullies can say whatever they like with no repercussions. If someone tries to stop people from doing this,the people initiating the hateful speech will immediately say that the people trying to stop them from commenting are violating their 1st amendment rights. Which herein lies the problem, that there is almost no way to stop this online homophobia. What we can do is make it better for ourselves, first of all by not posting hateful comments. We can further help by calling attention to the issue. Some sites have started to make things better. For example, some sites give you the ability to vote down a comment, and if enough votes are received then the comment is taken down. Report abuse buttons are starting to show up for certain sites, but there are still issues. People need to be more aware of what people are saying, and call attention to it. In conclusion, I would like to say that I had a great time blogging, and I will continue to research my topic with the release of new information pertaining to online homophobia.

15 comments:

  1. Nice job, Elder Mckinley. You picked a catchy title and it intrigued me a lot to read the post. After reading it, I realized that the title is one of the cyber bullying against homosexuals. Nowadays, Homophobia often say offensive words to homosexuals. This is an article about gay bullying statistics . According to the article, about 30 percent of all completed suicides have been related to sexual identity crisis. It shows that sexual crisis is a dominating part in suicides. It says that there are different kinds of sexual bullying and cyber bullying falls into the category of indirect bullying. I agree with you that it's a serious problem even though some people do not consider it a problem. But due to many reasons such as suicide which is the consequence of sexual depression, and in ethical parts, we need to pay attention to it. Besides controlling the comments online and other ways you write, the other way important way is to educate both homosexual and homophobia on and the internet and outside, to give them the sense that those people are natural.

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    2. Hi, Olivia. Thank you for taking the time to comment on my post. I have read the article you referred me too, and as it turns out that was one of the articles that I used in my research, and, as they say, great minds think alike. Thank you for your opinion.

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  2. Hey Elder Mckinley good work on your article, your title caught my eyes, cyber bullying is a really important issue on the internet right now. When I play video games, I can always hear those words. Calling people gay, and faggot can really hurt their feeling. It is really hard to stop most of the people to call others gay and faggot because we have the freedom of speech. I think the education system should work around this area and teach the teenagers how those words can hurt others' feeling.

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    1. Thank you Passive Fungi, I appreciate your input. I totally agree with you in that the education system should be educating teens on the use of words like that. I might add that schools should be educating teens on not just those words but cyberbullying in general. Thank you.

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  3. Great job on the article, Elder Mckinley! I like that you added ideas and websites on how to help stop this issue. I am very supportive of the gay community and I agree that this is getting out of hand. I found an article that I found interesting from PBS.org giving some reasons why teens attack and bully gay teens. Although it talks about physical attacks, the same reasons can be used to explain online bullying too. Some points that they brought up were that there are certain standards that men or women are expected to have and when they don't, they are bullied for it. Some bullies also just like the thrill of beating people up, and gays are the easiest targets for them.

    Enjoy the article! ~Jessica97

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/assault/roots/franklin.html

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    1. Hi Jessica97, thank you so much for commenting, it really means a lot to me. Thank you for posting that article, I found it very interesting. I am glad that you care so much about a topic like this, where atrocious things are being done and yet people still think that there isn't an issue. Again, thank you for commenting.

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    2. Wow, Jessica97,thank you for sharing that link. Many people often ask "Why do people commit violent acts against others?" or "Why do we put others down, simply because they are different from us?" This study, which took 3 fairly different people and showed what they had in common, exposes quite a bit about our "societal norms" and how powerful they can be. Elder McKinley's advice to speak up and/or disengage when people use homophobic language is a good start, if we are to promote the message that society does NOT condone such acts of hatred. What an interesting read!

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  4. Good post Elder Mckinley, I like how you were able to show that people do not choose to be gay by presenting a study published by Washington Post. I think there are two different ways in which homosexuals are opressed, one being the direct hate and descrimination of homosexuals, and the other being the indirect hate with the use of words like "fag", which in the way it's used, is usually a hateful term. I find that even people who are completely supportive of gay rights will sometimes slip out the word "gay" every once and a while in describing something negative. Do you think the word Homophobia well represents the oppression of homosexual people? If not which other words or terms would you use and why?
    Keep up the good blogging! -InvasiveSpecies

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I really appreciate you taking the time to read my post, as well as comment on it. I agree with you on the fact that saying something is "gay" is taken by many to just be a derogatory word used to describe something negative, when in fact it is considered by many to be homophobic. That is a very good question that you asked, and I think the answer would be that the word homophobia has different connotations to everybody, but when i think of homophobia, I think of physical abuse. Homophobia is both this and not this. I think that it can mean physical abuse, but it can also just mean calling something "gay." In short, I think that it does capture most of what I would think of as homophobia, but as to other words to use I am at a loss. Great question, and thanks again for your comment.

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  5. Amazing, thoughtful, and well organized blog post, Elder McKinley. I agree that the anonymity of people online makes them think they can get away with saying crude, homophobic and offensive remarks, things they probably would not say directly to a person in front of them. I like your suggestion that those of us who are offended by their remarks be just as blunt in return by stating our feelings about the offensive words and leaving the online conversation. Why do you think bullies use homophobic comments to hurt people? There is an article that BBC did about what words teachers heard as insults in their classrooms, and the top one was "gay." Oftentimes, the students say they don't think of the word as being offensive to gays; they just use it to replace words like stupid or lame (I suppose that word could be offensive to a person with a physical disability just as retarded is inappropriate and insensitive to use). I have friends who are gay, so it hits me personally when someone uses a word like gay in a negative way.

    Sincerely,

    gvp2000

    Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7289390.stm

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    1. Thank you for your comment gvp2000. I had not heard about that study conducted by the BBC, so thank you for providing a link to it, I found it very interesting. That does pose a question of how did we get to this situation? how can a term that once meant "happy" be so negative and hurtful nowadays? Most people, including me, are unable to answer this question. I too have gay and lesbian friends, so it does really strike me when I hear people use homophobic language. Thanks again for your comment.

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    2. The BBC article is dated 2008. Do you think this has changed in the last 6 years? I think mainstream culture has been far more inclusive of homosexuals in recent years, and gay marriage is now legal is 38 states in this country. Have we turned a corner?

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  6. Here's another resource to check out. ThinkB4YouSpeak showcases the "That's So Gay" campaign sponsored by GLSEN to raise awareness about homophobic language online. Encourage your friends to take the pledge!

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  7. And here's some hashtag activism to go along with #ItGetsBetter and other awareness-raising campaigns: Love > Hate #LoveisLouder

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