Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Of homosexuality and ice dancing

As we returned home from the supermarket this past Sunday evening and settled down to relax, my wife tuned into this program called Dancing on Ice, in which certain B-list celebrities team up with professional skaters and perform two-minute long dance routines. Then the show's panel of judges assess their performance.
This show gets on my nerves, big-time. I don't like the music, all the hyped-up cheering or the diva judges. I cringe at the sight of a man wearing a pink, sparkly costume. Most of all, I don't like watching ice skating, espcially ice dancing. Just not my thing. It never was, isn't, and—for all I can tell—never will be.
I let her watch the program while I busied myself in the kitchen, putting the groceries away and tending to the homemade mushroom pizzas that were cooking. But as I came into the living room with our dinners, I told Squirrel, "You're not going to make me suffer through this fag-o-rama, are you?"
Squirrel's jaw dropped. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself," she berated me. "How can you use such a word? And you, a bisexual!"
I didn't say anything while she chewed me out. I just shrugged.
She calmed down later and said, "Well, this is a woman's program, I suppose. I can't blame you for not liking it. Things like this really bring out the macho in you."
"Damn right," I said. "I tell you, hon, if I ever meet a man who tells me he likes Dancing on Ice, I'm running away as fast as my legs will carry me."
Now here's the clicker: Despite my use of a disparaging term for homosexuals and my promise to run a mile from any man who possesses a certain affection for this effeminate programming, I do not consider myself a homophobic person. Genuinely, I'm not.
I was reading a travel book recently about the Caribbean Islands. The book advised gays that Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Barbados are all quite homophobic and that violence towards gays is a real danger in these places. In fact, in Jamaica, lyrics to their popular dancehall and ragga music encourages attacks on gays. Human-rights groups call Jamaica "the most homophobic place on Earth."
I was disgusted upon reading this. Not that I ever wanted to go to crime-ridden Jamaica in the first place, but I especially wouldn't go now. I won't be among a people this hostile to sexual preference.
So why did I spout such disparaging abuse at Dancing on Ice, essentially labelling the program "gay?" Why does my machismo prevail in situations where I sense emasculation?
Quite possibly, it's because I've never fully accepted my bisexuality. I have never had a homosexual experience—for which I feel more pride and relief than regret and desire—and furthermore, I am proud to be heterosexually married and living a straight lifestyle. I have never had cause to regret marrying a woman, and I don't ever feel guilty about my "het privilege."
Yet, at the same time, bashing someone just because of their sexual orientation—or because of anything that they do in the privacy of their own bedroom—is unthinkable to me. I am with the gay community in believing that homesexuality is a product of nature, not nurture. There is no cause for me to get riled up just because someone is a homosexual. I have been to gay bars with or without Squirrel (and still continue on an infrequent basis to visit them), not to solicit anyone's attention, but simply to soak in the atmosphere, which I enjoy. I do not mind civil unions—though I'm against gay "marriage"—and I do not regard homosexuality as immoral.
Let's face it, awful though it may be, if you really want to express your total disgust at something, there is no more effective way of doing that in Western society than to declare it "gay." It's endemic, and, wrong though it was, I found the ultimate way to proclaim my hatred of that show by tying it up with the word "fag." The problem is, it did make me sound less of a 40-year-old married man and more like some punk-ass teenager who still has yet to completely figure out, deal with and ultimately accept his own sexuality.
My wife had a point. If I'm not like the Jamaicans in my attitude toward gays, then I need to stop using certain words in certain contexts.


East of Eden said...

Ok, the most troubling part of this post? Stars on Ice!! Do you realize they will make an American version of this soon? Oh for all that is good and reasonable on TV (which is not a lot anymore)...do we need this in addition to all the other celeb dance shows, American Idol etc, etc, etc. I'm just glad I have satelite and can watch something else!!

Nightdragon said...

Most surely, Eden, you will be getting this garbage on your screens sooner than later. They always take the worst celebrity-minded excesses of British programming and launch it in the States. It's like a stream of crap culture flowing from Britain to the U.S., like some putrid jet stream in reverse.

But, ayuh, thank goodness for cable -- or books or iPods!

Anonymous said...

So . . . you're bisexual yet have never had a homosexual experience. I'm sorry, but this makes you bi how?