I always find homophobia, especially in America, to be a combination of two extremes: the laughably absurd, and the terrifyingly tragic.
Absurd, when we see homophobic athletes hugging each other tighter than they’d ever with a woman, gently patting each other’s asses all game long, and even kissing, all under the guise of being absolutely straight “real men” together at war!
Tragic, in the case of the countless men who have been murdered, harassed, etc. because of being gay, or even for just being perceived to be. Of course, the Matthew Shepard murder is one of the first to come to mind. I’m sure most of you know the case, where twenty-one-year-old Matthew was brutally murdered in Wyoming simply because he was gay.
I was also quite emotionally struck by the suicide of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, an eleven-year-old Massachusetts boy who killed himself because he could no longer take the bullying and taunts of his classmates for being perceived as being gay. Right before his twelfth birthday in April, 2009, he hung himself because of almost an entire year of daily harassment, where of course, the school did nothing about it. I wrote an essay about it here on my blog entitled Still, there’s no liberation here.
So in the seemingly endless struggle for gay people to have equal rights in a country that prides itself on equality but doesn’t legislate or live it out, here is the latest installment in Mom’s Apple Pie homophobia:
A dating website dedicated to gay men called mancrunch.com recently submitted an ad to be run during the Super Bowl of 2010. In it, two regular looking guys, wearing different football jerseys suddenly realize their attraction for each other as their hands gently touch in a snack bowl while watching the big game. Then, they start mock-madly hugging/kissing, while a male friend of theirs looks on with his jaw on the floor.
Well, of course, CBS television rejected the ad – as if any of us couldn’t predict that one, lol. CBS claimed that they just weren’t sure of mancrunch.com’s financial holdings. Conversely, a representative for the website says that they have more than enough cash to pay for the ad. We all know the real reason why CBS cited financial concerns. Even though they won’t cater to gays and lesbians for this ultimate testosterone muscle-flexing fest, they certainly don’t want to offend them, either. So I’m sure there was some hush-hush meeting behind closed doors where executives deduced that the only safe way to nix the ad (without experiencing the backlash of the national and international gay community) was to express financial concerns — as if a gay check wouldn’t clear the bank in the same way a straight check would, lol.
From a business point of view, both CBS and mancrunch.com are acting smart, and handling this in ways that benefit their respective interests. In the case of CBS, running that ad would mean that they would receive countless complaints, idiotic boycotts by religious housewives, and a lot of sensationalistic pseudo-media controversy. The network would take a strong financial hit as advertisers would frantically pull their dollars like scurrying cockroaches that have just been hit by roach spray when the lights are turned on.
Imagine if the ad actually ran: regular beer drinking jocks all across this country would be saying, “What the fuck, man, what is this mother fucking bull shit – two dudes, kissing!?” Perhaps, hoards of television patrons may even turn off their TV sets in disgust, pray to Jesus a while to purify themselves as if they were washing away cooties on their skin, while the good ole’ boys could run out and get drunk to find some man-validating pussy.
We’ve all seen how the religious right can create such a stir by boycotting products. With their shrill, relentless, judgmental voices, they intimidate sponsors and television networks into conforming to their uptight, hateful values. Imagine the family scene with little toddlers in front of the TV, as their parents and grandparents gasp in utter panic as two men show sexual/ romantic interest in each other. CBS shows would be boycotted all across this country as fast as one could say “In the name of Jesus,” alongside similar threats to any sponsor’s products that advertised on the network.
Mancrunch.com’s strategy is simply brilliant because it’s presumable that they knew that this ad would never get on CBS television for the super bowl. However, in submitting it, the media is already extensively covering this story. This brought a huge amount of traffic to their website, which is exactly what they wanted. Whether they paid for the ad to run during the super bowl or just reaped the cost-free benefits from the exposure they’re getting in the media, they can’t lose, as this ad certainly went viral and brought a huge boost to their client base.
Here’s the proof: First, it made a splash on the internet Then, in recent days leading up to the Super Bowl, Larry King Live covered this story where they aired the ad, along with people on both sides of the issue who debated the whole ordeal. In that show, a representative of mancrunch.com claimed that they’ve had 50 thousand new subscribers sign up in just the past week, obviously from all the attention this story has gotten.
For the Super Bowl, CBS is willing to run a Pro-Life ad featuring some down-home boy-next-door heartland college quarterback in it. Yet, if they want to run such a divisive ad (as this country is so split on abortion), so be it – but then let the mancrunch.com ad run, too. There was an article that stated that CBS worked with the organization doing the pro-life ad for months, but the Mancrunch ad did not get that same consideration.
So as we see that even in 2010, prejudice, homophobia, and the divisive, hateful qualities of traditional America are still well in toll. In my case, not only was I abused virtually every day of my 12 years in school for being perceives as being gay, called a “faggot,” attacked mercilessly by both students and shockingly, even teachers as well. The abuse didn’t stop there: When I entered the world of rock n roll, I naively thought I had found a home. How wrong I was, as rock n roll, especially punk, is a very conservative, narrow-minded art-form.
My contributions to Chicago and the world’s musical history have been virtually erased, especially by the punk community, which is just as myopic in its vision as 1970’s corporate arena rock was. When I created punk, new wave and alternative in Chicago and broke all the rules both musically and visually, there was one big problem: I could be perceived as a faggot. Besides gender bending, I presented one of the most ugly, unflattering, unattractive physical presentations in rock history – and Chicagoans, at large, weren’t having it. Whether it was me stripping down to an old, musty one-piece old-ladies bathing suit with babushka, or people seeing my actual breasts, the punk community, especially in Chicago, couldn’t deal with it.
David Witz, a writer for the Chicago Reader wrote in February 1978 about the terror of a “faggot” like me actually representing Chicago. As truth be told, I was the only Chicago artist back then to take it to the national and international stage and was the first American artist to secure a recording contract with one of the most influential record labels of all time to the birth of punk, new wave and alternative music, IRS Records. Witz begged people to boycott my performances and flee from seeing me.
It didn’t stop there: over thirty years later in the historically inaccurate Chicago punk documentary You Weren’t There, released in 2007, my musical contributions to Chicago and world culture were purposefully and completely erased. Because of the gender-phobia/perceived as gay/not being visually stereotypic issues, instead of receiving credit for what I accomplished and started musically, I was lumped in with fringe local performance artists. Websites such as the Chicago punk data base have trivialized and marginalized what I’ve done as an artist, saying I wasn’t really punk.
It’s just the same old homophobia I experienced in my high school locker room, except now, it is by the rock and punk community who bend history more than I ever did with gender. It gives me renewed meaning as to why I wrote such protest songs as No Liberation Herein the first place.