Homoerotic & Homophobic: The Irony of Conservative Testosterone
by: Andrea Avidad
August 13, 2013
It was on the corner of Bedford Ave. and North 7th St. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn where I witnessed a group of men bullying a gay man passing them. The group of Wall Street bankers-style anti-gay guys took offense with a man wearing short shorts, and beyond that, they made obvious that wearing something other than an overpriced suit and tie is a crime against chauvinistic manhood. A few kindergarten level, pathetically uncreative insults flew in the air alongside some nuts they were eating. Very virile. Nuts and calling a gay person gay.
It really surprised me: many people who live in New York City or have heard about Williamsburg know that it is the mecca of so-called American hipsterism. Kale; tattoos; design stores; vinyl stores; vintage stores; stores selling expensive, uncommon, kind of useless objects; tons of attitude and everything considered pseudo-avant-garde and too-cool-for-school constitutes Brooklyn’s neighborhood ethos. That’s why in my logical thought process, I expected people, in general, to be more respectful, gay-friendly and intelligent. Specifically, intelligent, if we consider open-mindedness and tolerance as barometers of human cleverness.
Coincidences are strange. I remember standing on that specific corner with a new book I was reading at the time: “Queer,” William S. Burroughs’ piece about sexuality and its many layers. I read the same day about Dominique Venner, a French historian who killed himself at Notre Dame Cathedral. The reason? He couldn’t stand the recent approval of gay-marriage in France. It was a full day related to sexual identity, homophobia, intolerance and social changes (or maybe unchanged societies).
I found the homophobic episode I observed in my own neighborhood extremely lame, since I do believe in social evolution and the establishment of a contemporary culture in which people recognize human and civil rights of any citizen regardless of sexual identity. As I always say to some old-fashioned audience, I don’t give any explanations about my sexual activity, I don’t have to, I don’t need to and I don’t want to. Therefore, I don’t care about others’ sexual choices or manners. I don’t pay attention to a bedroom’s record.
Unfortunately, it looks like some young people who live in giant, center-of-the-world style metropolises like New York City or Paris haven’t reached that point yet. For instance, whoever perceived the European capital as progressive might be surprised with the negative reaction after the approval of same-sex marriage this past April 23. The 78 year-old man who shot himself in defense of his far right ideologies at Notre Dame, or the shameful homophobic attack against Wilfred de Bruijn and his partner (made viral through Facebook) were just introductions to an unfortunate chain of events during which homosexuals were targeted over the government’s marriage equality bill.
Furthermore, as hate knows no limits, the new Parisian, militant, in-your-face anti-gay organization Hommen started its own ironically homoerotic fight against gay rights in order to “protect children from being adopted by same-sex couples” who actually love each other.
There are few things that Hommen get totally wrong. The first is, by trying to mock the Ukrainian topless protest feminist movement Femen, it fails to realize that having masked, virile young males with bare chests in the organization’s particular context isn’t exactly an ode to heterosexuality and conservatism. Secondly, by copying its name and modus operandi from Femen, it makes itself easily comparable to the hardcore women’s group.
And, if we do so, Femen is the first topless activist group to exist in the Arab world: the girls shook more than one in Tunisia when they basically asked for the secularization of Muslim countries. The original, naked revolution has also fought against angry neo-Nazis in Paris with its ‘Sextermination for Nazism’ campaign and street performances. Boys from Hommen have been rubbing their chests against each other in what looks more like a gay pride parade than an anti-same-sex union manifestation. Well, one of its militants did have the great idea to jump into a tennis court at the French Championship to fight for childrens’ rights. That’s its way to make a statement. Whether we like it or not, it feels like estrogen is beating up ultraconservative testosterone with no pity.
The anti-gay organization also demands the resignation of French President FranÃ§ois Hollande and encourages its members to destroy the France of self-proclaimed intellectuals while declaring its availability to take the fate of French families and children. Hommen characterizes itself as an enlightened, anti-terrorist affiliation capable of determining gender construction in a traditionalist way by teaching French families how to establish “proper values.” Nothing eerily fascist about that.
In any society that proclaims to be democratic, giving space to any opinion and its manifestation is fundamental. That’s why each of us has the right to speak out and demand our freedom of opinion. Each of us carries a personal battle according to our ideas, and there’s nothing condemnable about that. However, things should be done in an authentic or original way. Mocking and razzing the cause of others by imitating it is nothing but dumb and retrogressive. Denying the possibility of inclusion into a legal system of those who choose differently than others is just for really scared people. Not for those who actually believe and practice libertÃ©, egalitÃ©, fraternitÃ©.