Gays should stress similarities

Note: Thoughts expressed in the columns and letters of the opinions section are solely those of the author and do not reflect the opinion of the CW editorial staff.

Tyler Clementi, a student at Rutgers University, committed suicide last week, marking the fifth suicide by a gay teenager in three weeks. This includes Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old middle school student from California, who died in the hospital on Sept. 29 after attempting to hang himself.

This recent string of suicides in homosexual teenagers, coupled with an offensive tweet by musical artist 50 Cent, has caused a stir in the media and among celebrities. Ellen DeGeneres, Kathy Griffin, Sarah Silverman and Neil Patrick Harris have all released videos pertaining to homosexual bullying. Each video pleads with young homosexuals to let people know if they are being bullied and reassures them that it all eventually gets better.

This recent media outrage over gay suicides and bullying has given fuel to a new campaign called, “We Give a Damn.” This organization helps with homosexual issues including workplace discrimination, bullying, suicide, faith and the military. They have also gained support from celebrities such as Jason Mraz, Anna Paquin, Cyndi Lauper and Elton John.

Outside of the celebrity world, many YouTube subscribers are also letting the world know that they too “give a damn.” Many of these people address the problems with modern culture and how the climate fosters anti-gay sentiments, especially bashing FOX News and the Republican Party.

I agree that FOX News personalities and right-wing politicians spewing anti-gay rhetoric have blood on their hands, but the blame does not stop there.

Older gay men and women are also in many ways responsible for the anti-gay atmosphere that has led teens to kill themselves over their own sexuality.

The gay culture has been aggressively pushing a counter-heteronormative agenda that demonizes anything that would typically be considered heterosexual. Many homosexuals take on a flamboyant lifestyle filled with drug use and promiscuous sex, and the media helps perpetuate the idea that this is the normal lifestyle of all gay men and women.

This idea is not only perpetuated by the media, though. If you look at pictures from or attend any big gay pride parade from around the country, you might call New Orleans Mardi Gras family-friendly.

I’m not asking gay men and women to begin marching in suits and ties, but these types of demonstrations are doing nothing more than highlighting the differences in gay and straight culture. Homosexuals need to begin stressing the similarities between gay and straight.

If we look to popular homosexuals in mainstream culture like Jack McFarland and Kurt Hummel, you see characters that further support the notion that all gay men are loud, flamboyant, and do not fit the mold of the “normal kid.” These shows make gay into something that is not supposed to be normal.

You can witness the same thing all across YouTube. You have gay characters like Chris Crocker who turn gay into something that is a form of entertainment. People start laughing not at these people because they are funny, but because they are gay.

Older gay men and women should spend less time attacking blatantly homophobic figureheads, because they pose less of a threat to gay teens than these silent homophobes perpetuating the notion that a person cannot be gay and normal.

For instance, gay adults should avert their attacks from men like Pat Robertson, who has equated homosexuality to “having sex with ducks” and pedophilia, to people like Perez Hilton and Adam Lambert, who reinforce the idea that you must be gay or normal and that being both is not a realistic option.

It is not okay for Fox News to spread hate through what is supposed to be a “fair and balanced” media outlet. It is also not okay that both of Alabama’s senators got a zero percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign for gay-friendly legislators. But on the same note, it is not okay to subscribe yourself to a ridiculous lifestyle and blame it on the fact that you are gay.

It is important for homosexuals to assimilate into the heteronormative as much as possible without compromising their personal beliefs. It’s just not pragmatic to declare a war upon a society you want to accept you.

Gay teens should not have to feel trapped between being normal and being gay, and when gay adults make gay into something that’s a joke, who would want to choose the latter? Normalcy doesn’t have to be the antithesis of gay, but right now that’s what it is becoming.

Gay Americans don’t need a Lady Gaga or an Adam Lambert; they need a Martin Luther King who is willing to show the similarities between gay people and straight people, while still respecting common ideals, like common decency.

Gays in America need to make a culture adjustment; otherwise the next time a homosexual teen commits suicide, they might be holding the rope.

Michael Patrick is a junior majoring in political science. His column runs every other Thursday.

  • Cynthia

    THE WHOLE POINT is freedom of expression and freedom to be whoever you want to be, dress how you like, act how you like, and be free from persecution. If my actions are not directly harmful to others, then it is my business to do whatever I like. The whole “you bring it on yourself by not acting like everyone else” is just more of the CONFORM, CONFORM, CONFORM rhetoric that represses ANYONE who is different in any way. This article is shameful.

  • seriously

    haha, whoops. just saw your apology edward. i thought you were the author. direct my previous comments to the author. cheerio.

  • Sara

    Hate to break it to you, but without flamboyant gays there would be no gay rights. Period.

    All those heteronormative gays were hiding in their pathetic closets and it was the queens and prostitutes who fought back and made our lives better than they could have imagined.

  • Alyce

    Your ideas are disgusting

  • jenn_dur

    First with regards to parades I think family friendly is a very subjective term. Although the “Old South” parade might be very traditional and a family event for some it doesn’t fit with my values and therefore, I wouldn’t take my family to it. At the same time happy people celebrating their freedom and people demanding equality does match my values so I do attend pride and will bring my kids to it (when I have kids). Over the last 5 years I’ve noticed many large pride parades have added a specific stage for youth and a stage with family programming at the after party because so many young people & families are coming to the parade & pride events so I guess these people feel that pride is family friendly.

    Secondly, you say “Many homosexuals take on a flamboyant lifestyle filled with drug use and promiscuous sex” and ask that homosexuals “begin stressing the similarities between gay and straight.”

    Let me help you by giving you some similarities:
    A football player or a frat boy that sleeps with half the cheerleading squad or half of the sorority girls is…..promiscuous
    The football player that spikes the ball in the end zone and does a touchdown dance is being….flamboyant
    A guy that hits the gym hard and takes steroids to help get bigger is….a drug user
    The same guy strutting around campus flexing his muscles for the girls is being…flamboyant
    A girl that hooks up with a hot boy for a one night stand is…promiscuous
    A girl that smokes something not quite so legal every time she goes to a concert is….a drug user
    A guy that likes to play PS3/xbox360, eat pizza, and smoke on friday nights then go to the football game on saturdays with his girlfriend is…a drug user

    I know it is shocking when you think about it. When you think about it one could say that a lot of heterosexual football players, bodybuilders, frat boys, cheerleaders, sorority girls, rockers, and video game players, are promiscuous, flamboyant, and/or drug users that, according to your definition, need to work on being more “normal” rather than subscribing to a “ridiculous lifestyle”.

    Now ask yourself why is it okay for the football player or gym guy to show off? Why do we applaud the guy that sleeps with all the girls? Why is it no big deal if a guy or girl smokes something at concerts or on weekends? Why do you consider these people “normal”? Why is it “normal” when a heterosexual acts this way and to quote you “ridiculous” when a lgbt person does the same thing? What double standards have society, the media, and you created? Why have these double standards been created? What purpose do they serve?

    Think long and hard about these questions. If you’re stuck for answers look for info regarding gender roles, gender stereotypes, patriarchal society, suppression of dissent, moral panic, groupthink, minorities, masculinity, hyper-masculinity, feminism, etc. Gender studies, sociology, and social psychology courses should all offer you interesting insight on societal “norms”. I also suggest travelling if possible so you can experience another society’s cultural norms. Trust me it is enlightening.

  • i’m with dada

    Wow,

    Of course: what a surprise that this would be the attempt at sympathy in a culture that stews in its own homogeneity; that expects normalcy around every corner, and refuses to acknowledge any attempt at non-conformity, whatever form it takes.

    Michael, junior in political science, get out of your media-hyped, conformist notion of what “gay” is — celebrity culture does not begin to cover the aspects of LGBT culture, and (like “seriously” above) go into the world with your eyes open, out from your back-water assumption of what the world is, outside your puny little conformist culture that really needs some injection of strangeness and non-conformity to get it to be creative again.

    Do you realize how boring the message of your editorial is? “Everyone should be closer to the norm for their own good” is BORING. It’s the perfect recipe for an uncreative, boring life, and Michael, junior in political science, is going to be just another boring political scientist from Alabama who will go to the Sbarro’s when he visits New York. Who will never try sushi, Korean food, or Thai “because it’s too spicy.” Who will always call someone from South America a “Mexican.” Who will, in a nutshell, never once step out of the comfort zone created by a boring childhood and has continued to a boring academic career. And Michael-junior-in-political-science will most likely have boring children who will perpetuate Alabama’s consistent, dull conformist tradition that has not yet perpetuated any great art, cultural revolution, or historical figure.

    All because of the puny little opinion that the best thing someone who isn’t “normal” should do is just be “normal.” Go open a franchise, you dull, dull kid.

  • Edward

    To “seriously”: You’re obviously a troll. And in case you don’t know what means, google ‘internet troll’. Thanks.

  • Xander

    Fellow homosexuals I understand your outrage at this poorly written and misinformed information but it is very obvious that this writer has never had to wake up day in and day out to face constant harassment, negative verbal abuse or physical abuse from society. The gay community is faced with negative feedback from closed minded misinformed writers, preachers, politicians, and everyday so called “normal” heterosexuals everyday. We as a Gay community should not attack in anger at propaganda and bigotry broadcast over the web, t.v. and news but We as a community should hold our heads up and keep fighting for our rights just as we have been since the gay rights movement began. We are making ground and will one day have the EQUALITY we deserve. That day will be the day that all of these “Normal” people will then have to realize there is no such thing as normal just preconceived notions of what the straight society has tried to force on the world. If everyone was like this writer the world would be a sad and boring place. God blessed all of our lost teens both GAY and straight.

  • Naenae

    “The gays” come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities, much like straight people.

    The only similarity that really needs to be stressed is that we are all people, all born with the same rights, needs, desires, and feelings. Everyone has the right to be as loud, liberal, conservative, rainbow-sparkly, or straight-laced as they want to be, and we shouldn’t be forced to change who we are to avoid the punishment from the rest of the world. No one deserves to be bullied, and everyone has a breaking point. That should be enough.

  • David

    I just read an Op-Ed piece on the Christian Science Monitor that makes one rethink the concept of ‘normal’ and is probably the best counter argument to ‘assimilationist’ rhetoric of the article above. Fear of being seen as gay has become such a part of American ‘normal male behavior’ it has actually warped American culture over time. ‘Normal’ interactions between men, compared to the the past and compared to many other contemporary cultures now seem cold, distant, awkward & aggressive by comparison. As a culture we intentionally deprive ourselves of love…because of fear. American men suck at relating to other men because we are trained only to ‘act’ appropriately around them. No ‘feeling’ or ‘being’ or ‘sharing’…just ‘acting’ like a man. We are taught very early in our lives how to talk like a man, walk like a man, to ‘man-up’ and how to navigate through our lives, avoiding at all cost anything that might be seen as remotely gay. It is all learned behavior based on our personal need to be accepted but it creates an entire population of actors, who think it most important how others will view their words & actions as acceptable rather than communicating what they truly feel & believe. How many relationships between father and son have been damaged by the inability to express love? I recently spent him in the Himalayas where Tibetan men express themselves very differently. Men hold hands walking down the street, wrap their arms around their friends and even rest their head on each others shoulders when sitting next to each other. By American standards it would seem to be a flamboyantly gay-centric culture…but there is nothing homosexual about it. Men there just have no problem expressing their fondness and love for friends & male family members. They wear their emotions on their sleeves and publicly demonstrate the bonds of friendship and appreciation. It is what we have lost, because we are afraid. So instead of trying to ‘cure’ gay men by assimilating them into the zombie-like bland, emotionless male culture where we are limited to high-fives and painting letters on our chests at football games as means of expression…we should start learning from gays, wear our emotions more on the outside, say what we mean and feel without fear of chastisement, be more expressive, hug our friends. Maybe, If we were all more like gays (or straight Tibetans!) life wouldn’t be as hard on all the kids who are so desperate to conform to a ‘norm’ that they somehow lose a part of themselves in the process.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2010/1006/Homophobia-hurts-straight-men-too?sms_ss=facebook&at_xt=4cadee91eb4c3a06%2C0

  • http://www.thetrevorproject.org Brian

    Im pretty certain that I may have never read such a bunch of ridiculous crap in my life. Who is the idiot that wrote this little winner of an article.

    Since you obviously know not a damn thing about gay life in America you should just shut your mouth. I had to reread it just to believe that anyone would actually print such hateful garbage.

    You ve got a lot of problems with those “older” Gays and Lesbians it seems. Makes absolutely no senst at all. Such sterotypical crap in your writing. They all do drugs. They all want to molest kids. They all are unhappy, and on and on ad nauseum.

    BULLSHIT!

  • Edward

    To ‘seriously’: Wow.

  • Ryan

    Absolute garbage.

  • Duh

    Replace every instance of the word “gay” with the word “black” then replace the word “straight” with the word “white” Racist right?? The reverse is homophobic this analysis wants gays and lesbians to conform to heteronormative ideals from which even straight people deviate

  • Leland

    irst and foremost I would like to say how sad it is that the Crimson White would publish an opinion piece with such little merit and such blatant disrespect for the memory and families of those boys. Using the death of anyone, especially considering the circumstances, to promote your “heteronormative” agenda is tasteless and pathetic.

    Where is your proof that the gay community is aggressively promoting an anti-heterocentric agenda? Maybe you believe this because more gay people are coming out than ever before. Maybe you think this because more gay people are open with their lives and experiences in this area than ever before. Maybe you think this because gay people who ARE flamboyant and who DO live a truly fabulous life aren’t afraid to share it anymore. I don’t believe this is proof of any agenda. I believe this is simply proof that the gay community, in the UA area, is growing, and that the rest of the town IS growing WITH them. The town is growing WITH them so much, that gay people aren’t afraid to be GAY anymore.

    You rambled on and on about how the media portrays the gay community as being full of promiscuous sex and drugs. Well, in case you missed it, so is the straight community; it’s called Jersey Shore.

    I like how you use the word “heteronormative.” Are you saying that only heterosexuals are normal?(see jersey shore above ;)) If anyone is to blame for how gay kids feel about themselves its you by force feeding them lies about being “normal.” Did you know that the definition for normal is ordinary? And why would anyone, gay or straight, want to be just ordinary?

    My thoughts and prayers go out to those families. Maybe one day it will be ok to NOT BE NORMAL.

    Xoxo, Genesis

  • Alastriona

    I love how everyone apparently lacks the analytical/reasoning skills to properly understand the article. Instead of being reactionary, why don’t you all actually consider what he wrote. He’s right, whether you like it or not, and there is a certain standard for “normal” in this society (as in every society, and ours is actually one of the societies with a broader definition of what normal is), and if anybody acts in an extremely flamboyant manner they will probably be taken less seriously despite all the good qualities they might have- an anecdote: blue hair isn’t going to curry any favor at a job interview even if you’re the most intelligent person in the room- . What’s wrong Anderson Cooper or Rachel Maddow as a role model instead of Andrew Lambert or Lady Gaga?? There is no reason to be different and outrageous just for the sake of being different and outrageous, basically. This article had a pretty realistic yet open-minded message and I know at least two of my gay friends would agree with it. You guys have all totally misconstrued the intent of the author. What great reading comprehension skills y’all have….lol

  • Chris

    While I’m vehemently against the article, I don’t think it’s appropriate to continuously bash the crimson white for printing such controversial articles. I, for one, enjoy the service it provides. Obviously, there is a disconnect and miscommunication, and the crimson white highlights those disconnects, then facilitates the subsequent dialogue to help correct this problem. Thank you, CW.

  • Equal

    I definitely see his point in this article, but in no way am I condoning his stereotypes. All people are unique. There’s good and bad in EVERYONE. There are stereotypes of every sort of person in the world. Like the frat guys are alcoholics and all they do is pull “total frat moves”, every GDI is just a laborer, and every woman belongs in the kitchen. Even in those 3 stereotypes YOU have to admit you know someone who breaks the mold. I believe that we should all have the same rights and freedoms and we shouldn’t be discriminated against because of our race, religion, and sexual orientation.

    In this country we are promised The Pursuit of Happiness. Would you want somebody to hinder your pursuit? The unanimous answer is no. Treat others how you want to be treated is what I grew up learning. (I’m sorry if you weren’t as fortunate)

    I honestly don’t see the normalcy of anyone. There are many types of people who have different personalities, style, outspoken, shy, ect. Who’s to say who’s normal anymore? If we stop labeling, putting people into categories, judging people for being a greek, GDI, black, white, gay, straight, christian, atheist, ect then WE as Americans and UA students can truly say we are a melting pot and your home away from home.

    I just want to live in a country when I have kids that I can tell them to truly, “be yourself”.

    Roll Tide, and good attempt at the subject. (No stereotypes or people will jump on your ass, no pun intended)

  • Janet

    For decades black people were held down and expected to be “good” and conform, this was the path of Booker T. Washington. Martin Luther King was considered quite uppity and out there in the sixties.

    Adam Lambert has taken quite a lot of flack from the more radical fringe of the gay community for not being “gay enough”. At the GLAAD award ceremony, he finished his song set with a plea for more diversity within the gay community. He has said repeatedly that he would like to be thought of foremost as a singer.

    I think this is a more modern take on “how gay people should be”. There is diversity within ALL communities, different people behave differently. Jim Carrey doesn’t behave like John McCain. Martin Lawrence isn’t like Barack Obama. Nathan Lane isn’t like Anderson Cooper.

    It’ll be nice when we can say…..Adam Lambert isn’t like 50 cent…..and NOT be talking about their sexuality. (Hint: one of these singers DOESN’T use autotune…..)

  • Come On.

    It seems like we should be striving to accept difference and live with each other as peaceful human beings.
    Not condemning lifestyle choices.
    Not categorizing anything as “normal” or “other”.
    And certainly not furthering the stereotype that all gay people are flamboyant drug addicts.
    The fact that this is even mentioned as a “truth” in the article shows that the author is immature and lacking knowledge about the struggle of the gay community to fight this stereotype for decades.
    This article has “internalized homophobia” written all over it.
    Being gay does not give you the right to write over-generalized, ill-researched, and poorly thought-out statements about queer community, Michael Patrick.

  • Xander

    @ Alastriona I appreciate your point of view and you have the right to say whatever you wish. Freedom of speech is one of the great things about being an American. Yet I feel the need to simply say if you feel the need to attempt to insult the other people who have just as much right to freedom of speech you should be prepared to have us comment on your statements. I neither lack the analytical/reasoning skills to properly understand the article nor did I totally misconstrue the intent of the author. This article was poorly written and is insulting to the gay community and to the memory of these teens. Maybe it is you that lack reasoning otherwise you might have figured out why people are upset by the simple yet ignorant stereotypes the writer use to label gays. As for your TWO gay friends that would agree with this article (If you actually know any openly gay people) I doubt they would agree with everything the writer has to say. There are things in his article that are true and I ADMIT that but it is more about conforming and hiding who you are than anything else. The gays might have some loud flamboyant members but as you stated we also have great people such as Anderson Cooper, Ellen, and despite what you think Lady Gaga and Adam Lambert (and yes his name is Adam not Andrew) as wonderful intelligent role models. In ending your statement “What great reading comprehension skills y’all have” makes me laugh. It made me remember that people who write articles such as this one and people such as you can be stereotyped just as fast as us Flamboyant Gays. I hope that my fellow gays continue to be who they are and we continue to show our Pride regardless of how uncomfortable some of the more outgoing members of my community might make the ‘Normal” people feel. God Bless!

  • Jessica

    I am disgusted by this article. As one of the “NORMAL GAYS” that you describe, im absolutely HORRIFIED by your beliefs, your absolutely delusional opinion that has ZERO basis in fact. Let’s get something straight, folks like Pat Robertson and those who think like him, wont accept gay people whether they were cardboard cut-outs of straight people “who just happen to like the same sex” anymore than they accept the lady gaga’s and jack mcfarlands of our society.

    Here’ the other thing, if all you are seeing at gay pride parades are the flamboyant ones, then you arent really there – you arent really looking, because ive been to them and they are filled with every walk of gay life…from the overtly flamboyant, to the transgender to the very “passable” gays who could otherwise walk through life and never actually tell anyone they are gay. Convienent for ones like me, huh? Best not to rock the boat I suppose, lets the angry straight person get so upset.

    It’s apparent you don’t know your history very well, because part of the gay movement for EQUALITY – not acceptance – had a period where gay people behaved exactly as you suggest. Gay men matched their straight burly men counterparts…and hate to break it to you, it didnt bring about anymore acceptance, in fact it did the opposite for those who simply would never accept us anyway. They dont want us to be “just like them” and thats the entire point, thats why the media focuses so heavily on the charicatures of our society. And here you are, simply backing up the homophobes in the world that thinks”no one needs to see that”.

    You think the answer is so simple “just be more like them, and things will be fine” – it doesnt work that way. As “normal” as I am…I still encounter people who wont accept me. At every job i’ve worked I’ve been out, expect for my current job…those who dont look as “normal” as I do, dont have this luxury you realize, right? Im not helping anyone by keeping my mouth shut, expect myself…but in this difficult economy, it’s simply a risk I cant afford. It breaks my heart that I have this option and other people simply dont, because they talk like Kurt on Glee, or they look like coach beiste.

    I, along with most every other gay person on this planet, simply wants the freedom to be who we are…and we want the same for straigth people. It’s that simple, and anyone who wants to make the conversation about anything else, has some real issues themselves – not just with gay people, but anything that doesnt quantify as “normal”.

    Author of this article, if you are gay…you need to do some deep soul searching. There is no such thing as normal, there is no such thing as “right”. It’s all a matter of opinion and perspective, and frankly NO ONE in this world should have to change who they are, so that others feel more “comfortable”. Im not sure why you want to live in a world like that, the rest of us sure dont.

    My final point, in a way you are right – we are just like straight people. There is no “normal” hetero, anymore than there is a “normal” gay…they’ve got their goths, and so do we…they’ve got their jocks, so do we…they’ve got their preppies, so do we…they’ve got their artistic ones, so do we…in case you havent figured our my point, we are very much the same…but those who spend so much time focusing on our differences, as you do….are the ones intentionally trying to overlook reality to suit your personal hatred. I dont want that world, and I wont support it or you.

  • Melissa Carden

    Michael, sweetie… I’ve known you for so long (since you were 12, I think?), and I’m so disappointed. You’re a very liberal, equal-rights kind of kid, but this article stresses heteronormative behavior, which only reinforces homophobia.

    On a personal note, I know gays–over the age of 40–who do dress flamboyantly at Pride events, but otherwise carry on extremely “normal” lives–jobs, no drug use, committed partnerships, etc. It’s painful to see you lump all of the older generation of homosexuals in America into a big, flamboyant, drug-abusing category.

    Furthermore, if we extend your logic to other minorities… this becomes even more dangerous. A co-worker of mine said she was bullied for being Jewish as a child. She said, “Kids would throw pennies at me and say, “how do you start a Jew parade? Throw a penny down a street!” In order to prevent other kids from getting bullied, should Jewish people try to be seen more in the middle class and less successful financially?”

    I hope you rethink your viewpoints seriously. You’re a bright kid with loads of potential, but this article could be detrimental to your career in the long run.

  • AbbyHallLuca

    “It is important for homosexuals to assimilate into the heteronormative as much as possible without compromising their personal beliefs. It’s just not pragmatic to declare a war upon a society you want to accept you”

    Michael, I want you to read these two sentences. Now read them again. Now again. Perhaps you’ll hear, embedded in these words, your own assumptions that Heterosexual=Correct and Homosexual=Deviation. Would you also say that, to garner mainstream “acceptance,” African-Americans should “just stop acting so black”? Or perhaps fat people should just stay indoors until they lose some weight because their “deviation from the norm” naturally brings on the taunts of passersby?

    Also, I don’t know many gay people who wrestle with “how to be gay” because of flamboyant pictures in the media. Flamboyant people will be flamboyant. Jocks will be jocks. Goths will be goths…. independently of sexuality. One of my oldest college friends is a gay, gun-toting, country music-loving conservative. He’s gay because he’s sexually attracted to other men; he doesn’t struggle internally with whether to follow the influence of “flamboyant” gays in the media. Adam Lambert doesn’t cross his mind in the span of a day, but I can guarantee that the hateful words of people like Pat Robertson DO cross his mind on a regular basis.

    Step outside of yourself. Stop thinking of society in terms of norms. Think of society, like sexuality, as an ebb and flow of fluid realities. There are no “norms,” there’s only what accepted/unaccepted at any one given moment in a culture’s history.

    Let people be as they are.

  • Dad

    Who is standing up for all the other kids, ie: handicapped, unattractive, unpopular, who are being bullied to death?

  • Dakota Collins

    First, ROLL TIDE – been saying that for many years now, but you’re treading on some very shaky ground with this article. I’m a professional woman, married, children, Christian and a very serious Adam Lambert fan. I take exception to you insinuating he is not a “normal” example to follow. Yes, he wears eye makeup when he performs, but did you look into what he does and what kind of example he sets when he is not on stage? His fans, at his urging, have raised $500,000 for donorschoose.org, a charity that helps teachers get needed supplies in the classroom. When he is interviewed, he shows a mature, well-rounded world view, knows music, encourages kindness and love, refuses to participate in negativity toward other people or cultures, and is polite and articulate. He has often said that he doesn’t want to be the spokesperson for any cause, just a singer who sets an example by how he lives his life, open, non-judgemental, non-hypocritical. Of all the public figure out there, Adam is the one who I would encourage my children to emulate. If I can be half the parent his were, I will be thrilled. My heart swells with pride every time he sings a note, says a word, or makes someone feel better about who they are.
    There, I’ve said my piece, now let’s kick some Gamecock butt this weekend… not that Adam would care, but nobody’s perfect.

  • Dakota Collins

    Okay, Dad, this in reply to your inquiry about who stands up for the other outsiders. Not going to get on the Adam bandwagon again, but you need to know that Adam doesn’t push GAY causes, he pushes an agenda that asks that all those who feel rejected, left out, abused by classmates or society in general know that they are worthy of love and when they grow up and get out of the hellhole that high school can be for some of them, they will be the special ones, the people others will want to know and be friends with. His whole Glam Nation Tour is about Love and Acceptance. He was a redheaded, overweight, gay kid in school who was saved by the fact that he was a performer, but he knew what it was to have to hide his sexuality and search for people like himself who loved the arts, not football.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agFAO-nnqAk Listen to the sentiment before the song AND the words to the song……….. he’s unbelievable. Tokyo 10/7/10

  • brightnshiny

    As a non-conforming queer, and a UA student who has fought for queer rights since middle school, I’ve heard this argument for years. It is embarrassing to me that this would even be published. I think, the issue is, there are people that “conform” and people that don’t. Some of the people that “conform” are queer and some aren’t. Some people (myself included), “conform” when they have to for professional reasons and are more flamboyant in other situations. Being different in any way is a hard row to hoe, but telling us to fit in and not be different is saying that different is wrong. And different is not wrong. Love yourself, man, whomever you choose to be. And love others too, whomever they choose to be.

  • http://flewellyn.livejournal.com Flewellyn

    A lot of stress here on conforming to normal behaviors. I question this approach.

    What is normal, is not necessarily good. It is merely the most typical. Normality is a statistical, not prescriptive, phenomenon.

    With that in mind, asking oppressed people to alter their behavior to suit their oppressors is hardly justified.

  • Kit

    Good try to get people to attack Adam. He is a rising star and there is nothing that you can do about it. Sure there will be some who try but his fans have his back. He is loved by many and accepted by more every day so that is a good thing I believe. Just stop the hate. Some people were against gays long before Adam came along so stop trying to use him as some stupid example. He is a entertainer and singer. Anyone who trys to use Adam or anyone else as a reason to okay the behaviour of people bullying kids to death is shameful. If the adults would stop with their bulling tatics perhaps the kid will learn how not to hate and destroy people who are different. Stupid articles, hateful leaders and comics who pick on gays for sport are the problem. And they are the ones with blood on their hands. Stop trying to blame Gaga or Adam who bring joy to so many people.

  • dan

    Direct quote: “Many homosexuals take on a flamboyant lifestyle filled with drug use and promiscuous sex.”

    … … … as a straight man I can laugh at this drivel but I figure some form of seething outrage is more appropriate for someone who’s just been told their culture (or inherent nature?) is all about flamboyance & drug use & promiscuous sex.

    Oh how you’ve misstepped, Mr. Junior something or other…

  • Kirk

    The only thing I can add is that the CW routinely had terrible articles when I was in school. The one thing I’m not sure about is whether people like Michael intentionally write inflammatory statements to get reactions, or if they are really that ill-informed when they do their regular class papers. Way to go with the stereotypes, Mike.

  • Carl Etheredge

    Mr. Patrick, you disgust me.

    You state, “The gay culture has been aggressively pushing a counter-heteronormative agenda that demonizes anything that would typically be considered heterosexual.”

    At best, you simply offer a hyperbole of your intended statement, and at worst, you are intentionally presenting a lie. The religious right has for years aggressively push their anti-homosexual agenda. Gay activists have pushed back, not with a message demonizing heterosexuals, but simply demanding equal treatment and an end to discrimination that is to this day enshrined in law. There is nothing wrong with heterosexuals, but there is something wrong with religious and political leaders presenting heterosexuality as the only healthy, natural “choice” (which I put in quotes, because one’s sexuality is not based on choice).

    You also say, “Many homosexuals take on a flamboyant lifestyle filled with drug use and promiscuous sex, and the media helps perpetuate the idea that this is the normal lifestyle of all gay men and women.”

    So do many heterosexuals… and the media gives them ample coverage, as well. The only purpose your pejorative statement serves is to vilify homosexuals, many of whom lead demure, reserved lives and do not at all identify with the lifestyle you describe.

    @Dad, Why don’t you stand up for them?

  • Ozge Yesildag

    Mr. Patrick, I wish you good luck in your studies; and I hope you never have to release articles out of pure desperation for attention.

    After all, you would love some recognition as a Political Science Junior. I am sure you have your reasons to need it.

    However; I am very convinced that homosexuals only pursue the very same method as you for their HUMAN RIGHTS.

    There will always be people who confuse what their homosexuality will entitle them to act so. Then again, this will also be true for any person in general – regardless of who they are.

    As for homosexuals acting all gay (!) – obviously everyone has their reasons for this.

    Gay does not have to mean violent.

    Gay does not have to mean flamboyant.

    Gay does not have to mean any extreme you can think of.

    & Homosexuality does not have to sell.

    Unfortunately some will use homosexuality as a shield to support their own agenda. After all, it has gained somewhat attention – and because of the events recently, it is “intense”.

    Then again ; it is not to be forgotten that there are millions of people coming off as what you would not expect from a “normal” person because they – like you as you were writing this article – need their voice be heard.

    I can not comment enough about the subject.

    I – like many MANY others, may as well not stop it :)

    Harvey Milk didn’t.

  • Amber

    Regardless of whether the author is right or wrong, it’s silly for all of you to personally attack the author for his opinion.

    I mean, really? You are leaving comments implying you can predict the characteristics of his children and what sort type of food who would consume in New York based on a single article just because you disagree with it?

    Also, Melissa Carden, are you really going to imply you can predict the affect this article will have on his future career due to your own feelings towards the subject? What qualifies you to make that prediction?

    I disagree with the piece just as much as the rest of these comments. I just feel that when you disagree with a topic you should express your dissatisfaction regarding the issue, not attack the author on a personal level.

    What’s that called? Oh yeah, tact.

  • Some Girl

    I am so glad that you said this, “Many homosexuals take on a flamboyant lifestyle filled with drug use and promiscuous sex..” The gay culture that I grew up around is ridiculously promiscuous. For example, the people I know who say they are bisexual make it seem more like an excuse to have as many partners as possible than simply a sexual preference.

    Also I don’t think that the author is saying heterosexuality is normal and homosexuality is abnormal. It’s simple a personal thing that truly can’t be considered normal or abnormal. It is what it is.

    I don’t think he trying to say gay people should act less gay. Because, well, being gay is simply a sexual attraction to someone of the same sex, and nothing more. You really can’t do that less. You are attracted to who you are attracted to. You love who you love.

    I think he is saying that there are certain actions, style of dress, things like this, that our society sees as acceptable… and homosexuals are usually portrayed as being outside of those norms. I’m not saying that the any large number of homosexuals in “real life” are actually like this, but some are. I feel like the author is saying, “If you did things that our society found more socially acceptable, like stop wearing yellow pants and rainbows(to give a silly example), maybe our society would be more accepting of you.”

    And honestly, that might suck to say, it might suck to hear, but it’s the truth. Can we work to change this? We can. We can work to be more accepting of diversity on all levels, from style of dress to religion to all ideas. Will we? Probably not, because most people think that they are the only right ones, and most people really don’t give a crap.

    Instead of being disgusted by his views, look around you and be disgusted by the society you live in.

    Sure some homosexuals are flamboyant because that’s who they are, but have you people ever stopped to think that some homosexuals act a certain way because they fill the need to fit in somewhere? Stereotypes have basis in reality, and people often times try to conform to a stereotype so that they can identify with a group.

    I can imagine the need to identify with someone and the need to fit in is a lot stronger for homosexuals who face a lot of adversity in their lives, especially growing up.

    The media influences sexuality, period. Especially when you are dealing with young people who are discovering their sexuality, whether they are gay or straight. When gay people are portrayed in the media as being outrageous, flamboyant, outspoken people, it is going to affect someone’s self image. It is going to affect how someone acts. It is going to affect how that group of people is viewed. Sure this is something that is seriously flawed in our society and with our media and ourselves, but. it. still. happens.

    @ Dad Exactly! People of all sorts are bullied. Homosexuals, obese people, minorities, unattractive people, even attractive people, are bullied. Making this a “gay issue” is a bit silly. It’s a bullying issue, period.

  • Janet

    Mr. Patrick,
    I’ve never seen (or read) such blatant homophobia in my life! You are either:
    1) extremely heartless or
    2) uneducated in lifes lessons
    Can I please recommend you change your major or, change your party!
    You could also use some lessons in compassion- something you clearly lack!! People such as yourself make me sick!!!

  • Marly

    No movement of liberation should be about imposing one set of rules in place of another. The minute you accept that you are less than what is currently the ‘norm’ is the minute you accept that you are a second class human being. The minute you blame people for their own persecution is the minute you have entered a very special circle of hell and worse, are trying to entice others to enter with you.

  • Mel

    I think this article is lazy, full of generalizations with no basis in fact and sophomoric reasoning. But so many people have said all the thoughts tumbling in my head so much better than I ever could, so I will touch on one more aspect that hasn’t been covered as much.

    The celebrities you sneer at as damaging to the gay kids are actually the ones that are out there on the front lines proudly being themselves and not apologizing for it rather than the conformation that you seem to find so valuable. Decades of conformation have not brought about a safe environment for kids struggling with being different in the Lord of the Flies world of the teen years. I think it’s past time to try another strategy.

    Both Lady Gaga and Adam Lambert are polarizing figures in pop culture because they do not conform. I’m so happy that Gaga has taken the reigns of her immense success and steered that toward achieving equality. While Lambert is not as well known as Gaga, in his own way he is breaking down walls as well. They are not the caricatures the media makes them out to be, and that you treat them as, they are actual people. Through them and others brave enough to be out and in the public eye, kids are seeing that being gay doesn’t have to mean a life of pain and torment.

    Here is Lambert over a year ago during a radio interview with an off the cuff message for kids who feel different.

    http://youtu.be/aNPhft3l7eQ

  • Katherine

    lol. Kid, if this is the way you structure your arguments then the political science department is gonna eat you alive. I don’t know how you got a column.

    “Common decency” is a social construct that changes depending on who you ask. Me? I think it’s common decency not to blame people for something you obviously know nothing about.

  • Mike

    All I have to say is: you’re an idiot.

    This article is homophobic trash.

    I can’t believe you’re blaming gays for attitudes STRAIGHT people have about gays. I thought we had put this foolishness to rest.

  • Susan L

    There are many great comments here. I applaud the many articulate responses countering Michael’s opinion piece. Let me just say, as a white, straight, married, middle-class woman that I would hate to live in a world where we all had to live by Michael’s definition of “normal”–what a straitjacket that would be! My world has been much improved by the opportunity to dress up, wear make-up on occasion, dance and sing in the streets, and hug my friends or lovers in public. I love it when I see men dressed in clothes that are not baggy and ugly. Men can be beautiful too–why should they hide that? I love being with men who can express a full range of emotions. I love men WHO WILL DANCE. I adore my friends who are caustic, sarcastic, wise and witty–who are straight or gay or somewhere in between. I have a lot in common with my gay friends, and most of what we have in common is “common” to most Americans. But what Michael suggests as “normal” is simply too narrow.

    Calling on young people to conform is both tragic and unpatriotic in my opinion. America has not succeeded as a nation because we have conformed. Michael, if you want to live quietly in a beige clapboard ranch house in the suburbs and not be disturbed by the non-conformists in our country, that’s fine. But please don’t crash our party. We’re the ones selling billions of dollars of popculture, i-products, and other innovations to the world.

    I have a feeling my world is a lot more fun than Michael’s. If his is “normal” I don’t want to live there. If I did, I would move to Saudi Arabia.

  • Lynne

    brightnshiny

    As a more conforming type of straight middle-aged woman, your post cuts to the chase and says it all.

    I am mainly a conformer, but I am sometimes more flambuoyant at work for professional reasons :)

    I support equal rights for all people and celebrate the right for anyone to be as different or typical as he chooses to be.

    Both kinds of people are needed in the world to balance things out.

    And both kinds of straight and gay people can use their influence to create positive change and equality in the world by bringing the best they have to offer to the table in the way that best fits their own personalities and talents.

    Nobody should be denied acceptance at the table.

    I

  • http://. Mom

    Kudos to “some girl” and “dad”. This should not be a gay / straight issue! This is about bullying, which is wrong!
    As the mother of a gay child, I was angered to read Mr. Patricks letter. I found it a slam at gays rather than what should have been the issue – bullying. We all know that many kids are bullied; black, white, short, tall, skinny, fat, gay, straight! The first thing I thought when reading This was “what a bully”! Mr. Patrick, I must also agree with “Janet”. You definitely need some lessons in compassion. It’s obvious from your writing that you have a problem with the gay community and that is terribly sad! Thankfully, every gay person I know is compassionate and considerate! You Mr. Patrick could learn from them!
    It doesn’t matter if you are black, white, Hispanic, Chinese, Japanese, short, fat, cross-eyed or blind, you deserve equal treatment! And, we all know that all people are not treated equally in this Country, and that MUST change!!
    Mr. Patrick, can you please tell us what makes you any better than Adam Lambert, Lady Gaga, Ellen or any gay person? And, I would venture to say that if your sexual encounter were streamed on the Internet, you too would be distraught! If you say it wouldn’t, you are even more heartless that I already think you must be!!

  • Janet

    Can you please tell me who would “choose” to be gay, with people such as yourself in this world? Being gay is NOT A CHOICE!!!! When are people going to wake up and realize that gay people don’t choose to be gay, just like white people don’t choose to be white, black people don’t choose to be black! Michael, did you choose to be ignorant, or were you born that way?????

  • ……

    yeah, I agree with the vast majority of people that commented on this. I think you might be one the of the most hateful, ignorant, hypocritical people to ever grace this planet. Don’t make yourself feel better by thinking of the people who actually liked this article, they’re only your friends.

  • Daniel

    As a gay UA alum (class of ’01) I am so proud of the comments this article has generated. When I was a teenager growing up in Alabama, TV stations refused to air Ellen’s coming out episode, so the fact that so many people are bothered by this article is a sign of huge progress to me. The article itself is kind of a snooze and didn’t really outrage me because it’s so hackneyed.

    There are times when I look around at a gay club or a pride parade and wonder, “Is this really us at our best?” But then I think, “Who gives a damn? This isn’t a job interview. It’s a chance to let loose and have fun.” I used to wish I could change my voice or mannerisms or interests to be more masculine. Then I realized that all of those things would be a full-time job to change. Sure, I could make an effort to “butch it up,” and in some situations, I do. I certainly don’t call my boss “girl” or tell my coworkers, “Your boobs are lookin’ fierce today, honey!” But that doesn’t mean I’m being fake or playing a part if I say these things to my friends to get a laugh out of them. It just means that I, like lots of people, can be a lot of different things and still be true to myself.

    Can you imagine Martin Luther King saying, “I have a dream…a dream that one day, we can all talk and walk and act so similarly that no one will even mind that we’re not the same color! I have a dream today!”? Or what about Susan B. Anthony encouraging women to cut their hair short and dress like men just so they could be taken seriously enough to have the right to vote? Well that’s no different than wishing Anderson Cooper would scold all those flaming gays out there for embarrassing him and ask Lady Gaga to tone it down a little.

    By the way, Anderson Cooper isn’t a gay role model. He has never officially come out, and it’s not hard to imagine why. When a celebrity comes out, everything he or she does is suddenly scrutinized in a new way. They’re suddenly the unelected representative for millions of gay people and it’s hard to ever be seen as anything else. It’s hard to remember now, but when Adam Lambert first appeared on American Idol, a lot of people weren’t sure if he was gay. But now that he’s out, his over-the-top sense of style is cited as an example of everything that’s wrong with gay culture (as opposed to say, David Bowie, who gets to be just a great musician with an awesome, straight-rock-star sense of style).

    One last thing…Jack McFarland wasn’t the only gay character on Will and Grace. It was just a small part, but the other character’s name was Will and he was a more complex mix of gay cliches and heteronorma—whatever the author wants to call it. Of course, the author chose to focus on Jack because that supported his limited view of what gay culture is. And THAT is the catch-22 of “normalizing” gay culture. I’d love for everyone to recognize there are gay men who are soldiers and athletes and lesbians who are lingerie models and cheerleaders. But in order for that to happen, those people have to announce to everyone that they’re gay. And as soon as they do, someone will say, “Why do these gays have to be so in your face about it?”

  • Tim Chandler

    The way I feel is that everyone no matter their sexual orientation should exist and live and let live. A person pushing an agenda on someone else against their will is wrong, no matter the agenda, especially when the agenda infringes on your own personal liberty.

    I am a heterosexual and a recent graduate of the University, I am a member of the College GOP and a regular watcher of Fox News. Probably by now you have written me off as a stereotype.

    The way I feel about gay marriage is we need a policy that works for everyone and does not infringe individual liberty. The Christian Right often rails just as often on divorce and Godless marriage among heterosexuals as well. I do not think I am Obama, but I do think I have a policy that would benefit everyone and infringe on no one. We follow the Founders intent and separate marriage from state. Every couple, be it hetero or homosexual files for a civil union (as marriage has always been a contract with the state) . After the civil union is performed, then if the couple so chooses, they have a religious ceremony at their respective institution based on its own private beliefs and traditions. This plan would provide for equal protection under the law as well as respecting religious institutions from being meddled with by the state.

    I do not see people bullying a homosexual as bullying a homosexual but as bullying a person. A person with rights. Bullying, especially bullying to the point of suicide infringes on their individual rights As a young educator, it should be my duty to make sure that does not happen in areas I am privy to control, regardless of the persons sexual orientation, no more than I would be asked to stop/not stop bullying based on questions of gender or race.

  • Tim Chandler

    Also its late and I forgot to say what I originally meant to say.

    I think the only one a person should answer to regarding personal behavior is themselves and anyone they allow into their life. If a person wants to be flamboyant or however you want to put it, how is that any different than me choosing to make my entire work wardrobe Will Shuesteresque (remember I am teaching right now) or choosing to drive a Ford Fusion? Individual Liberty aka living life however you want as long as you are not infringing on others doing the same is what the Country was founded on. It is high time we got back to that principle.