Dump the Rainbow Flag

Bandera_Gay,_Dia_del_Orgullo_Gay,_Madrid

 

Dump the Rainbow Flag

(español: https://fantasticablog.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/botar-la-bandera-arcoiris/)

A flag depicting the hanging corpse of a thirteen year-old boy explains the experience of being gay better than a rainbow; it personifies the hate, the jokes, and the hollow sucking shame of being worthless and unwanted. While fake examples of loving families overcrowd click-bait headlines, I think my story, and many more like it, are far more typical. My parents raised me on a trinity of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hanity, and Laura Schlessinger – conservative radio hosts with millions of US listeners. They explained everything to me about the “biological error[1]” that is the homosexual: his perversity, her deviance, its repulsive disease – and the need for a cure. Years later, while driving to a family party, my uncle suggested the cure indirectly by remarking on “the pieces of a chopped up fag they found in a dumpster.” The killer wasn’t caught, but “who cares,” because, “they are cleaning up the city.” There are of course many other stories, like the doctor who asked me if I had “heterosexual or homosexual” sex, then repeated the question twice after my answer, and finally, exasperated, defined his terms plainly. Once he realized I understood what the words meant, he left the room instantly. A long wait later, he gave me a brief, cold examination and kicked me out the door. Maybe he was afraid of AIDS or maybe he was just taking out the trash. A rainbow doesn’t speak to these kinds of experiences, but a hanging body does. Suicide gets to the root of why any of us gays are here– because no one wants us.

The rainbow flag originally signified various undesirable sexualities, but nowadays its application is broadened into mere vanity. Even the “Straight Ally,” a broad-minded Olympian willing to shake our diseased-infested hands, may now claim it. But he shouldn’t. The club of gays may be one of freaks, lepers, and worse – but it is a club membership bought with suffering. At least for me, once one buys something with blood and tears, one will not sell it again for a stranger’s smile, his pity, his condescension – or to be a proof of his goodness. Like all animals, humans work for their own benefit, and the straight ally phenomenon is no different; the trend is to appear accepting, but no straight person in their right mind sees faggots and dykes as equals. Take Jonah Hill, or Barak Obama, the Pope, or whoever – we are occasionally useful as targets for their largesse, but beneath it all, these are the people who laugh at the gay jokes, who make them, who are ashamed of their closet queers, who are confident of their superiority, their worthiness. People do not change.

If the rainbow flag has been transformed into a party favour, the party itself is an ironic and morbid one. Alcoholism[2], homelessness[3], increasing HIV infection[4], drug addiction[5], poverty[6], and suicide[7] are the more likely results of being gay than becoming a straight woman’s shopping assistant. Unmeasured in these quantitative descriptions of LGBT life are the shame-faced looks people who once loved but now despise you, the emptiness of being marginal, the futility of a life that is nothing. I am reminded of an acquaintance, in his thirties and single, who was found stabbed to death in the stairwell of a building in Chile I lived in, a victim of the lawless hell that gay life can become when the outcasts pray on other outcasts. Taken in this light, the rainbow flag and the word “gay” are therefore parodies.

Many homosexuals will disagree with my point of view. Some will offer up the shaky smiles of family as feeble talismans of respect. Forgive me if I doubt. Others discard their beggar’s clothes, and blend with straights, imagining themselves as more than just a walking punch-line. Forgive me if I chuckle. In this life we both define ourselves and are defined by others; and while one can escape one’s own labels – one cannot escape those from outside. For the homosexual there are only two eras of life: the time before people know what you are, and after – a law that cannot be changed by begging for love; you are what you are and what you are is less. A symbol to preside over such people, ones that both destroy themselves and are destroyed by others in so many ways, is hard to choose, but if I had to select it – that symbol would not be a rainbow flag.

References

Centers for Disease Control [CDC]. (2014a). LGBT youth. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth.htm

CDC. (2014b). HIV among gay and bisexual men. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/gender/msm/

Dermody, S. S., Marshal, M. P., Cheong, J-W., Burton, C., Hughes, T., Aranda, F., & Friedman, M. S. (2013). Longitudinal disparities of hazardous drinking between sexual minority and heterosexual individuals from adolescence to young adulthood. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 43(30), 30-39. doi:10.1007/s10964-013-9905-9

Marikar, S. (2010). Critics: Dr. Laura’s rant reiterates n-word is never OK. ABC News. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/dr-laura-schlessinger-slammed-word-laced-rant/story?id=11394378

Paul, J. P., Catania, J., Pollack, L., Moskowitz, J., Canchola, J., Mills, T., … Stall, R. (2002). Suicide attempts among gay and bisexual men: Lifetime prevalence and antecedents. American Journal of Public Health, 92(8), 1338-1345.

Sears, B., & Badgett, L. (2012). Beyond Stereotypes: Poverty in the LGBT Community. The Williams Institute. Retrieved from http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/headlines/beyond-stereotypes-poverty-in-the-lgbt-community/

[1] (Marikar, 2010)

[2] (Dermody et al., 2014)

[3] (Centers for Disease Control [CDC], 2014a)

[4] (CDC, 2014b)

[5] (CDC, 2014a)

[6] (Sears & Badgett, 2012)

[7] (CDC 2014a; Paul et al., 2002)

3 comments on “Dump the Rainbow Flag

  1. Craybox says:

    I agree with all of the statistics and figures that you have presented about being gay, and the stories, the degradation, the bullying, the callousness, the cruelty – I agree that is all true and is often forgotten.
    But the rainbow flag is not, in my opinion, designed to laugh in the faces of all those gay men and women who are beaten and belittled as outcasts. It’s purpose is not to appear aloof and irrelevant to the victims of homophobia, as you imply.
    Instead, the rainbow flag is supposed to symbolise hope and unity even in places where it is non-existent. Whether you live in London, Houston, Rio de Janeiro or Kyoto, the rainbow flag is identifiable for any LGBT person as a sign that other people like them are out there dreaming of a better future and fighting for it.
    The ethos of the rainbow flag is one of hope and determination. It’s not for wallowing in self-pity or focusing on the woes of the gay community; we get enough of that already in our lives, as shown by your statistics. Instead the flag tells LGBT people to keep believing that an equal future is possible; that you will find others like you; that you might find love someday; that you might feel comfortable in your own skin.
    The rainbow flag isn’t perfect by any means, and yes the allies question is complicated in a similar way to the issue of men within feminism, but the rainbow flag tries to foster optimism in a world where there is none, and that’s what I think gives it it’s importance.

    Many thanks for a thought-provoking article x

    • valens999 says:

      I appreciate your thoughts and observations, however I would counter that recognising the real impacts of suicide, addiction, familial rejection, HIV, and discrimination are not a species of self-pity but rather realism – a factor tragically absent in the pollyanna world of endorsed gay blogging, endorsed “gay movements,” and mainstream media. I would appreciate more relevance towards the lived experiences of most individuals, who live under varying kinds of oppression, and less focus on a barmy nirvana of straight people’s love and generosity which has yet to materialise. The suffering has materialised though, so why do we not focus on that? Perhaps because people suffering these situations are not marketable, not film-able, not sellable to straight housewives, not desirable as voters, not rich enough to vote with dollars, not straight-acting enough to pass… that is to say that in some sense they do not matter to people who so boldly wave the rainbow flag, people leading a sad party that deceives only themselves – searching for an acceptance which they are unlikely to obtain by their pureness of heart, conformist tactics, and positive thinking alone.

      • Craybox says:

        I’m just not sure what you mean when you say that the gay rights movement focuses on seeking straight affection rather than tending to its own. Since when has that ever been the case? The whole point of the gay rights movement was and still is to show solidarity as a community against oppression. It’s rare to hear of LGBT charities that focus solely on making straight friends as opposed to solving all the tragic problems which you mention. Instead, most gay charities, pride events and other movements are deliberately geared towards raising awareness that
        1) LGBT people exist and should come together to support one another.
        2) There are terrible issues of violence and discrimination which we have to tackle
        3) We’re not out to make friends, we realise, like Martin Luther King did during the civil rights movement, that you just don’t stop discrimination from the majority group if all you do is make enemies with them.
        In other words, we still prioritise looking after other LGBT people and protecting them from harm wherever possible, but we realise that it is not just necessary but beneficial for all of us to aim towards a more inclusive, egalitarian future.

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