Closeted: The Bent People

Closeted: The Bent People
A Review of the GLBTQS Rights Movement

By Kristoffer Martin

Class: Theory and Criticism
Joel Pace
November 5th, 2008

Prologue

Introduction: To discuss the blindness of socially accepted institutions in relation to homosexuality, specifically the majority religion Christianity.
Questions Part I, History as a Principle: has the GLBTQS struggle been on par with the Woman’s Suffrage and Negro Suffrage movements of the late 1800s and early 1900s? Are there any strong parallels?
Questions Part II, Martin Thomas’ Bent reflects on the treatment of gay men in Nazi Germany after the Night of the Knives. In what ways have the treatments of gay men (or more broadly people) changed or stayed the same since WWII?
Questions Part III, V for Vendetta portrays a future setting that is very similar to that of Bent, how are the two productions similar in story? How is homosexuality and difference portrayed?
Questions Part IV, The Present State: How has society remained blind to the struggle of homosexuals and how has this made them invisible? What is the present state of the GBLTQS rights movement? How is the current struggle of GBLQS suffrage similar and different than previous movements?

Epilogue

Part I: History
-This section sets up a principle of comparison found in the suffrage movements of yesteryears to compare the current rights movement for homosexual and alternate-sexuality rights with in the United States.
Biblical References
Black Rights-“Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison
Women’s Rights “Schneir’s “Feminism”
The play Bent
Marxist analysis
Part II: Review of the play Bent by Martin Thomas
Part III: Review of the movie V for Vendetta (original graphic novel concept, David Lloyd, playwright Larry and Andy Wachowski)
Part IV: Present State
-This section will cover the current state of the GLBTQS rights movement. And the current political stance found in the United States, and will be a full conclusion of the paper.
Actions taken against the GBLQS community; both politically and interpersonally
Rights denied to the GBLQS community
The motion picture V for Vendetta

Epilogue: A Personal Reflection on being Bisexual

Authorial meta-analysis of the paper

Prologue

Listening to No-Where Man by the Beatles, I could only think of a few things, and one of them was the struggle that alternate sexually oriented people face today. We are subjected to cruelties once felt by many others, sentiments of hate and disenfranchisement thought to be long past by a great majority of people. I thought back to Ellison’s “Invisible Man”, read for my American Literature class, and the Negro rights movement. And then the Women Studies dialogues of my other class this semester. Each are intertwined by the very notion of social blindness. Invisibility through neglect of the human condition, and social blindness for the conditions of what is not considered the social norm, were leading causes in the sexism and racism issues of our past; and are now a strong cause behind the current fight for rights by the next suffrage group, GLBQST.
It may seem strange, or even outlandish, to think that our modern society, still has sexism and racism. Yet amidst this year’s presidential elections and other political campaigns, these issues have arisen again. They are the formulae for greater disenfranchisement of the middle class, and those who now struggle with their cultural, social, and sexual identities. What I hope to achieve in writing this review, is to enlighten those of you who read this, to the disprosperity afforded to the GBLTQS community through the current social conditions. I plan to reference many materials that may not be known to you and I encourage anyone who reads this to follow up on the sources I provide, along with contacting your local GBLTQS community leaders.

I:
History as a Principle

Homosexuality and alternative sexualities have been, through out recorded history, denounced as unnatural, disgusting, ungodly, behaviors that should be destroyed, at least in western European cultures and cultures descendent of the Abrahamic religions. The United States, though proud in its origins of free thought and free religious choice, is still heavily inundated by the Christian religious beliefs, and there in, its foundation of morals and social ethics. With in this sphere of ethical faith, homosexuality has been denounced as sinful and unchristian, and thus wrong. Similar problems have arisen in the past in the US and around the world for various social movements, including the Negro Rights movement and the Women Suffrage movements.
Christian followers who dislike homosexuality readily refer to many passages from the Bible that they interpret to mean homosexuality is wrong. Bible.org, a Christian run website with an estimated quarter of a million readers per month, has a section dedicated to answering what homosexuality is. The article in question, “Homosexuality: The Christian Perspective”, comes from Lehman Strauss Litt.D., F.R.G.S., former professor of Old Testament History at the Philadelphia Bible Institute. He asks the question “How do you determine if homosexuality is wrong or right?” and answers “The Christian point of view is based solely upon the Bible, the divinely inspired Word of God. A truly Christian standard of ethics is the conduct of divine revelation, not of statistical research nor of public opinion. For the Christian, the Bible is the final authority for both belief and behavior.” (Question two, Homosexuality: The Christian Perspective) and thus continues to quote various scripture that denounces homosexuality including; “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (Leviticus 18:22). “If a man also lies with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them” (Leviticus 20:13). Considering that the Bible and the very religion of Christianity and its many Abrahamic counterparts are over two thousand years old, it is safe to say that these religions have had a strong affect on the position of homosexuals, and their rights.
What is more pronounced by this article, is the attitude found through history; in 1869 what is thought to be the beginning of psychological sexuality, in study, or sexology, began. And the premise that homosexuality was a curable sickness was elated by the community at large. At first the principles were that sexual desire towards another of the same gender was a personality inversion, a term that would later become significant in the principles of the psychological ideas that framed homosexuality (Zimmerman, Lesbian Histories and Culture, intro IX). As a disease, homosexuality was again denounced by Christians in the United States. However, many of the earlier sexologists, claiming homosexuality themselves, worked to remove the anti-homosexuality notions, including the idea that it was a disease. This is the beginning of the United States GLBTQS1 suffrage and rights movement which would follow in the foot steps of the movements of Europe during WWII.
In 1979 Martin Sherman wrote the play Bent, which was centered on the treatment of homosexual men in Germany during World War II. Only two years after the studies in sexology in 1869 an insertion to the German Criminal Code (Code 175) reads as follows “Unnatural fornication, whether between persons of the male sex or of humans with beasts, is to be punished by imprisonment; a sentence of loss of civil rights may also be passed.” This was 1871, and is a law that would be used to hunt down, imprison, and murder thousands of gay men during World War I and II. In the twenties Dr. Magnus Herschfield founded the Institute for Sexual Science, and was a main figure head for the German Gay Movement. He led several unsuccessful attempts to have the code removed, along with the efforts of other organizations. The reason that the gay clubs and organizations were allowed to continue during WWII and under the Hitler regime was because of Ernst Rohm, who was the head of the SA storm troopers, and gay. In 1934, The Night of Long Knives was perpetrated on the orders of Hitler. An order to remove all gays from the Nazi army. Rohm was killed along with many other soldiers, and with him the protection the gay movement in Germany had. In 1936, the police were given the powers to arrest anyone that may have threatened the “moral fiber” of Germany. It is estimated, between 1933 and 1945, one hundred thousand men were arrested and charged with homosexuality. Half of them were sent to actual trial and spent their sentences in prisons, while others nearly fifteen thousand died in concentration camps. This does not cover the number of gay men and women killed and imprisoned by Nazi Germany outside of Germany. (“Bent”2 Pamphlet page three) “Paragraph 175 was not completely repealed from the German Criminal Code until March 10, 1994” (“Bent” Pamphlet)
However, this movement for homosexual rights was out shown in history by the Negro Rights movement and the Women’s Suffrage movements of the same era. Being out shown by the large class and groups of people, the GLBTQS became a hidden agenda, seated on the back burner of history. It was not long before the entire sexuality became the “love that dare not speak its name” (Zimmerman, intro IX) and was only a whispered idea.
It should not be mistaken as a minor movement when compared to the Negro Rights movement and the Women’s Suffrage movements, because these two social events paved the way for the modern movement. They surpassed many of the same issues that GLBTQS people faced through out their long history, and today. To understand what will be seen in the future for the GLBTQS quest for equal rights, it is vital to look to what has happened in these other two major rights movements in the United States.
Both Feminism and the Women’s Rights movement and the Negro Rights Movement, that started before the civil war, continued in its primary wave into the late 1940s, and were greatly intertwined with in each other. The two movements were both about fighting against the social stigmas and religious dogmas that, in part, denied both groups their freedoms. Sojourner Truth, (Sojourner Truth was a freed southern slave) in her famous speech that never was officially recorded at the Akron convention (1851) on women’s rights, brings together both women’s rights and abolition. “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me…And ain’t I a women? …Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ‘cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from?…From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.” (Miriam Schneir’s Feminism, page 95) Both black men and all women of the time fought for their rights. Picketing and protesting for equality. Even during the Civil War, when most women chose to do their civil duty to fight alongside men, as nurses and doctors. And during the World Wars, when they were asked to take on the position of workers, they fought for their rights. Unfortunately, the bridge made by Sojourner was brought down when the Women’s Suffrage advocate group split; one group supporting the picketing of President Woodrow Wilson and black women’s rights, the other disagreeing, in favor for working through the political system that already existed and leaving black women behind as a compromise.
Women were subjugated to unlawful treatment, such as Susan B Anthony who, in 1872 voted illegally along with fifty other women and was arrested. She forced the officer to put handcuffs on her as a mark of martyrdom. Her court case, which was arraigned on by an all male jury and a male judge, was considered one of the most unjust court cases of the late 1800s. Even after hearing her defense, the judge stated a pre-arrived at judgment, to which she protested, she never paid the fines that court gave her.
Blacks faced similar injustices, facing lynches, anti-black sentiment, and unfair court cases against those who protested for their rights. (Schneir, 132)
Finally the Negro rights movement ended in 1870, when the 14th amendment was passed giving black men the right to vote; while women would have to way another fifty years to get the vote in 1920. In 1947 Ralph Ellison wrote “Invisible Man” a fictional story depicting what he considered was the whole of the black experience in the United States during the 1920s. He discusses the state of what it is to be invisible. The nameless main character, known as Brother by the association he joins says “This is not prophecy, but description. Thus one of the greatest jokes in the world is the spectacle of the whites busy escaping blackness and becoming blacker every day, and the blacks striving toward whiteness, becoming quite dull and gray.” Brother comes to the conclusion that there is no escaping the integration of blacks and whites, and the disenfranchisement that they face due to that integration. And while blacks still suffer with the rights they had gained, it was the invisibility he had and the blindness that he found he had, that would liberate him from the inflexible world he was forced into. Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man exemplifies a struggle with sexuality, human condition, and problems with being black, and being blind. Ellison even touches upon the “Woman’s Question” as yet another invisible mass.
Amidst the struggle women’s sexuality and in general sexuality became a major topic, being both admonished and upheld as topic of the time. Sexuality has been traditionally a blind subject matter, spoken behind closed doors and whispered about between couples, but in 1873 Victoria Woodhull openly spoke about the sexual depravity of marriage in her “The Elixir of Life” openly calling wives “sexual slaves” and the openness she expressed on “sexual love” and the relationship between man and woman (Schneir, 152) The women’s rights movement opened the door to question sexuality which would be pervasive through out the rest of the movement and into the mid twenty first century when the Women’s Suffrage movement would be rejuvenated.
Meanwhile homosexuality would take great strides in its secreted state. Though highly repressed, such works like Sexual Behavior in the Human Male by Alfred Kinsey, or Jeannette Foster’s Sex Variant Women in Literature which would later bridge the gap between the 1920’s feminism and the new feminism of the late fifties, with an imbued sense of lesbianism, would begin to raise the question of homosexuality once again. (Zimmerman, page 31). In 1969 the Gay Liberation Movement raised out of the new push of sexual understanding opening the door for the present movement for GLBTQS rights.
The Gay movement for rights, which is both older than the Woman’s rights movement, and the Negro rights movement, came to the forefront creating an upwelling of awareness and resentment towards the GLBTQS community. And just like the Negro rights movement and Women rights movement, it faced harrowing resistance.
During the 1970s, the decade following the free love era, was wrought with anti-gay, and homophobic, activism. And in the 1980s several anti-gay lynchings occurred, going unpunished. In Gay/Justice by Richard D Mohr, two such events are described. In 1984, a DC judge let “gay bashers” go on suspended sentences on the premise that they were “good boys at heart” and “just All-American Boys”. These same boys stalked down their victim, forced him to strip at knife point, threatened him with castration, beat him, and slashed him. In the same year, in Maine, three teens threw a gay man over a bridge to his death, and they were let off as well with minimal sentence. (Mohr, 28) The gay rights movement had hit the same wall of violence and dissentients that the Black Rights Movement and the Women’s Right’s Movement faced. Iris Marion Young wrote on the affects of differentiation in a social and political sphere in his essay “The Scaling of Bodies and the Politics of Identity”. His argument that homosexuality is different than that of racism and sexism comes down to the facet that race is apparent, gender is apparent, but when it comes to one’s sexual preference it is “increasingly difficult to assert any differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals except their choice of sexual partners” ( Young, 379 From Modernism to Post Modernism.
From a Marxist point of view, we see a continual fixation with Bourgeoisie social class (those who are “right” in their sexual being, and fit in the socially accepted paradigms) and the class set at a lower state (the Sexual Proletariat). It is often accepted that gay people are lowest class of people. Which is exemplified in Bent when Max (the main character who is brought into a concentration camp and meets another gay man Horst) tells Horst “I fought for the yellow star, I have vegetables in my soup, look, meat.” The differentiation between religious and sexuality was only one way to degrade the person. And even in a concentration camp, where all were belittled, the aggression of anti-gay was commonplace. The pink triangles did not get meat in their soup. (Marxist principles as argued by Martin Heidegger in “Letter on Humanism”, From Modernism et al page 176)
As the GBLTQS movement continues it will experience the same issues as the previous rights movements. The parallels in struggle and disenfranchisement is clear, and only as of recent has there been an even stronger presents in the movement for equality. Just as the Black Right’s Movements and Women’s Rights Movements picketed and protested, and had a preliminary stage, and heavy stage and a rebirth. So has the GBLTQS movement. The Negro-nation fought for equal rights, and once was the Racial Proletariat, then the Women fought for their rights, and they were the Gender Proletariat, now we have the Sexual Proletariat fighting for their rights and the struggle has been longer than any other rights movement.

II
Bent
Social morality, derived from religious faith, is one of the strongest driving factors behind anti-social reform. Bent by Martin Sherman references just such a happening with in the Nazi Germany regime of WWII. Written as a love drama, the two main characters Horst and Max fall in love inside of a Concentration camp, but before this love affair occurs the nature of being closeted versus open about one’s sexuality is exhibited twice; both of which are negative views that the main character Max rebels against.
These two views are of being closeted are found first, with the character Greta, the owner of a “Queens Club” and Max’s boss. The second occurs when Max speaks to his Uncle, Freddie. Greta, who is a cross dresser in his late thirties, flees Berlin after one last show in his club, and returns to his wife and children. “Me? Everyone knows I’m not queer. I’ve got a wife and kids. Of course that doesn’t mean much these days, does it? But- I still ain’t queer! As for this…I go where the money is. Was.” (Sherman, act 1, page 28) Even though Greta is married, has children, and is only a drag queen, the image of being so is “gay”. Greta denies her association with gays to save her own life. And thus falls victim to a socially unaccepted image. Again, this same principle of what is accepted socially comes from Uncle Freddie, who attempts later to get Max to give up his open relationship with Rudy (a secondary character that is Max’s love affair in the beginning of the play and later dies on the Nazi transport train). Freddie says, “They’ve passed a law you know. We’re not allowed to be fluffs anymore. We’re not even allowed to kiss or embrace. Or fantasize. You can be arrested for having fluff thoughts.” Max refuses his uncle’s proposition. But in an attempt to save Rudy he even says “[The Family] They want me, its good business. Make the arrangements I’ll marry her.” Ryan McDaniel who played Max stated, “Uncle Freddie, he represents the closed mindedness of the closeted gay. He represents what people were ‘supposed to be’. And is a barrier between Max and salvation.” (Ryan McDaniel Interview)
In a blind society, where image is all that matters, the rights of the people are lost. Both Greta and Freddie exemplify this social blindness. Where they conform to an image that degrades and secrets away who they are, and there in everyone else that is like them. Homosexuality is a subject of imagery, both then and now. In Thomas Stoddard’s article “Gay Marriages: Should They Be Legalized?” Stoddard points out that the image of gay marriage is a principle base for most people who are against reforming marriage laws. “They believe that same sex marriage would be ‘antifamily’ [they] overlook the obvious: Marriage creates families and promotes social stability.” (Current Issues and Enduring Questions, page 412) Just as it was in Nazi Germany’s moral code 175, the principles of morality are of a social image, and Sherman shows that with in the confines of what that social image is expected to be, there will always be people left out and discouraged from being who they are.
Later in the drama, after Max meets Horst on the concentration prisoner transport, and loses Rudy, Max proves his straightness by violating a dead girl, and then gains a “star of David” as a mark of being a Jew. Horst receives an upside down pink triangle. It is later that Max re-meets Horst, who has been just stunted by the cook. He was refused anything but broth for his meal, a matter of hatred for gays in the camp by other prisoners. Even amidst turmoil and slavery, homosexuals are degraded and looked down upon. The image of the star versus the triangle is yet another example of social blindness in what one is supposed to be. As the triangle is only half a star, so to is Horst half a man, and in the eyes of both the Nazi guards and the prisoners, he is not worth the time.
When present day anti-gay arguments are presented, often the argument separates what is socially accepted into two parts. Man and woman. Two parts of a whole, and though this may be true to some extent, for man and woman are made to be reproducers of the race, as is any other creature, that does not mean that to be whole a person needs another of the opposite gender. As Horst is shown he is not whole, and does not become whole until Max wriggles him into working with him, moving rocks back and forth across a court yard, this is an image that comes up later at the end of the drama.
Max, who is seen as a whole a “golden star”, he is treated with some privilege. Allowed to attain money from his uncle while in the camp and then medicine through a sexual favour for Horst, and even though he is still looked down upon, he is still held at a higher level than Horst. In the final moments of the drama, the captain, whom Max gave the sexual favour to for the medicine, orders Horst to throw his hat on to the electrified perimeter fence, and then to retrieve it. Horst throws the hat and then, in an act of defiance, attacks the captain. He is shot by the petty-officer. Max is ordered to dispose of the body. After a thirty minute pause, as dictated by the horn, he is forced to hold onto Horst’s dead body. Dropping Horst into the pit, Max retrieves his coat with the pink triangle and puts it on. He declares, “I love you, What’s Wrong With That?” and in his own act of defiance committed suicide by jumping onto the fence.
Max’s suicide, defiance, and retrieval of the pink triangle, is both an active exclamation of his love for Horst and his need to show he is gay, to be true to himself, but also a metaphor for the nature of defiance of the social norm. As Max shows that he was not whole with out Horst, and could not bear to live with in the confines of the prison, so too cannot the gay bi lesbian queer transgender straight community live with in the prison of the social norm of images. Of what is socially accepted. The act of defiance is the act of protest, with out rights and freedoms; the GBLTQS community is between a pit and an electric fence. Not seen as whole and left to wander between death and subjugated existence.
Bent exemplifies not only the social state of homosexuality during WWII, but the state in which the same community lives now. Though the GBLTQS community has become more open, and less afraid to be open, the same problems and sentimentality exist that lead to the imprisonment and deaths of thousands of gay people in WWII. As a reflection Bent is truly a strong prognosticator of the current state of social norms.

III
V for Vendetta
Prognosticator: a soothsayer or a predictor (oed.com)
In the simplest terms the movie V for Vendetta and the graphic novel on which it was based is a prognosticator. It is a truth teller and reflection of our current times. There is no surprise that there is a great abundance of similarities between Bent and V for Vendetta, as they both impart a sense of the times from which they are born.
V for Vendetta exhibits a future of maniacal governmental control. Where the principles of human uniqueness are turned into being “differences are wrong”. As it was in Nazi Germany, where to be anything but the “master race” was to be locked away, enslaved, and ultimately killed. The principle parallels between Bent and V for Vendetta are simple. They both share a government bent on control, a dictator with ultimate power, cowering behind that power. A man with absolute power that created laws that make it illegal to be anything, but a “god fearing man”, and only so in the right way. In fact the very people persecuted in WWII are the same who are persecuted in V for Vendetta.
One of the minor characters to embody this government, Lewis Prothero, states,” [God] tested us, but we came through. We did what we had to do. Islington. Enfield. I was there, I saw it all. Immigrants, Muslims, homosexuals, terrorists. Disease-ridden degenerates. They had to go. Strength through unity. Unity through faith. I’m a God-fearing Englishman and I’m goddamn proud of it!” However the movie harkens to an even darker point which is exhibited when the main character Evey Hammond is forced into reclamation of her relationship to V the other main character. V, in a pseudo-kidnapping, uses the symbol of hatred, the black hood and imprisonment with in a cell with out trial or reason, to exonerate Evey’s reliability. In her time in the cell she interacts with a separate character, Valerie, a fellow prisoner. Evey becomes reliant on their discourse to survive her ordeal. Valerie’s correspondence is of her life, being born in nineteen eighty five, finding love first in a Catholic elementary school with another girl, and again through her acting career.
In 2002, I fell in love with a girl named Christina. That year I came out to my parents. I couldn’t have done it without Chris holding my hand. My father wouldn’t look at me. He told me to go and never come back. My mother said nothing. But I’d only told them the truth. Was that so selfish? Our integrity sells for so little, but it is all we really have. It is the very last inch of us. But within that inch we are free. I’d always known what I wanted to do with my life and in 2015 I starred in my first film, The Salt Flats. It was the most important role of my life. Not because of my career, but because that was how I met Ruth. The first time we kissed I knew I never wanted to kiss any other lips but hers again. We moved to a small flat in London together. She grew Scarlet Carsons for me in our window box and our place always smelt of roses. Those were the best years of my life.
It is strange how people can shun someone for being in love, is it not? Yet here it is in truth, what so many have gone through. Religious zealotry is the fundamental basis of this story. “They took Ruth while she was out buying food. I’ve never cried so hard in my life. It wasn’t long till they came for me.” They took Ruth then Valerie, because they were lesbians, because they did not fit the norm. Just like the German moral code 175, the removal of any person that could “upset the social order”, order brought on by a religious morality that was twisted to fit Hitler’s goals. “Did you like that? USA… Ulcered Sphincter of Ass-erica, I mean what else can you say? Here was a country that had everything, absolutely everything. And now, twenty years later, is what? The world’s biggest leper colony. Why? Godlessness. Let me say that again… Godlessness”(Prothero). When Evey learns that her imprisonment was not what she thought, she felt everything was fake, she could not feel anything. Yet Valerie was real she and Ruth. Evey learns they were real, when she learns V had been the one to interact with Valerie, imprisoned. Valerie and Ruth, they are the sacrificial lambs that carry Evey and V towards what needs to be done. Valerie and Ruth, Max and Rudy, V and Valerie, Max and Horst, all eventualities in the destruction of what does not fit into the moral code of religious piety; the parallels here are the true matter. Valerie and Max are as similar as Ruth and Rudy. V and Max are just as similar as Valerie and Horst.
As Max loses Rudy on the prisoner train, Valerie loses Ruth, who is taken first. Valerie loves V for his correspondence, being their next to her. They helped each other survive, as did Max for Horst. Horst dies imprisoned, as does Valerie. And both Max and V become the martyr, the sacrificial lamb. Both act in reverence and resistance to their manipulators and ultimately die for their cause “regardless of what weapons they try to use to effect silence, words will always retain their power. Words are the means to meaning, and for some, the annunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country.”
The parallels between Bent and V for Vendetta are strong, because they share so much in common. They show a truth about the nature of society, as it bunches up its fists at change, and ultimately falls back on the fears it has. V, as a character, is imbued with being masked, a symbol of both invisibility and reproduction. And in the movie many people wear his very personage, thus becoming a symbol. And as the pink triangle was a symbol to Max, of his wholeness and being and sacrifice, so to is V’s personage, his mask. When he is plotting to blow up the Parliament building, and Evey remarks that she does not think the act would bring change V says, “People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people. The building is a symbol as is the act of destroying it, symbols are given power by people, alone a symbol is meaningless, but with enough people blowing up a building can change the world.”
And is that not a truth, a prognostic of the world as it is today? Where the Twin Towers fell, and it changed the world. Does it really take such an event to change the world, and will it take such a thing to change the views of society to enable and equalize.
Or are we doomed to a repetition of WWII, much like that portrayed in V for Vendetta, where anyone different, including the GBLTQS community, is subjugated to bigotry?
Our current state is reflected in V for Vendetta and Bent so much so that both are telling that there is a problem with in our country, within our people.
IV
The Present State
In every major rights movement the use of religious propriety has been the foundation against those seeking their rights. In Black Rights, Biblical references were used to dispute the sovereignty and humanity of the Negro people, and again were used against women in their struggle, deployed as a means to prove the inferiority of women. Now, the same is being used to argue against GBLTQS rights. “Static empirical knowledge does not exist rather it is the insight of the emergence of all systems that we must recognized…sadly society today has failed to recognize this and the established institutions continue to paralyze growth” (Zeitgeist: Addendum, 1:32-1:34) Institutions like organized religion. The beliefs held with in the major religions of the United States, like Christianity, which makes up the majority of almost 159 million people (2001 ARIS study), have ”a fear of change, for their conditioning assumes a static identity…for being wrong is erroneously associated with failure” (Zeitgeist, 1:34-1:36). When a major religion like Christianity dictates what should be done about homosexuals to its people, the principles of right and wrong are announced, and the place of those who do not fit in with what the principles say are right, must be wrong. Lehman Strauss says, in his article “We can help [gays] by seeking to draw their attention to what God says in His Word. In a kind and loving spirit we can show them that they are wrong. However, the homosexual must admit to the fact that he is living in sin and that he has the desire to be made free from it. Without a genuine conviction of God’s displeasure and a strong desire to do God’s will, there is no hope. A truly born again person cannot continue to practice sin without reaping the results of miserable unhappiness brought on by loss of fellowship with God, the fear of retribution and the anxiety produced by guilt. The homosexual must ask himself, ‘Is the temporary gratification of the flesh worth all the penalty and losses I must suffer?’”
If these are the sentiments that nearly three fourths of the US population has, then the GBLTQS alliance and movement has a huge uphill battle. Unlike the counterpart movements of the past, where each group had a majority identity, Negroes for Negroes, women for women, the GBLTQS is seen as dissociated, that is, they are not any one single group, but any person who could be of an alternate sexuality. White, black, female, male, it does not matter what race, creed, gender, or family history one may claim, any person maybe homosexual or bisexual, transgender, or just different.
When asked about if the homophobic sentiment towards the gay community was the result of social blindness, in an interview, Ryan McDaniel, lead actor in the UWEC 2008 production of “Bent” said, “Yes, I think people have a preconceived idea of what the gay lifestyle is. But being gay makes you no different than anyone else, it is just your sexual attraction.” Because of the dissociation of the group, the contiguousness seen by those who are GBLTQS is not seen by the outside perception, which has caused a social blindness to the realities of the GBLTQS community; a blindness that has reduced their existence to a handful of stereotypes. For a long time the Gay rights movement has been invisible, over shadowed by other movements, stereotypes, and general unacceptance of their existence. This invisibility, however, has slowly been lost as more people accept their sexuality and are no longer afraid to speak out about it.
Someone at the front of the GBLTQS movement is Kyle Arthur Rudebusch, founder and president of SPEAKING in SILENCE NO LONGER (SSNL), a current gay rights advocacy group; in an interview recently said, “I believe that in politics social blindness is in fact what has led our country to many falsifications on the GLTBQ community” and that “how much social blindness can we really tolerate any longer – be it [against] Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexuals, questioning or Straight Actual Allies…”
Social blindness has been the very slate on which antigay activities have been written on and erased away as if in passing by a shirt sleeve. As of recent as February of this year (February 12th 2008) homophobia is present in our school systems and taught to the children by their families and the social stigmas still found with in the schools. Lawrence King, a fifteen year old gay boy, was shot and killed at E.O. Green School in Oxnard, California, by a fellow student who he asked to be his Valentine. He had just recently publicly come out in the school and had endured the harassment centered on homosexuality that is still common. (Remembering Lawrence King (Murdered Because He was Gay.), Facebook group.)
What continues and perpetuates these stereotypes and the bigotry towards gays is in part the moral principles and ethics that are brought on by the majority religious group, Christianity. But with in this religion, and among its many sects, we see a division from the classic view held by Christians (and many people that follow its moral code, regardless of if they identify with the religion its self). Conservative Christians, like that of the Westboro Baptist Church, founders of the website, godhatesfags.com, believe that “the book of Genesis indicates the fall of humanity into sin. They view homosexual behavior as one manifestation of that sin.” (religioustolerance.org, How religious conservatives and liberals interpret the Bible) Where as a more liberal Christian, like those of the Universal Unitarians, see the creation story “as composed of myths derived from earlier Middle Eastern pagan writings. Some do not accept that the story implies the fall of humanity.”(religioustolerance.org) and thus do not associate homosexuality as a sin or even with the man woman division found in Genesis. Religioustolerance.org also shows the separation between conservative and liberal Christian views. Saying “Christians should follow the Bible, God’s word. It is the source of absolute truth, is fixed and unchangeable.” as a conservative view, and stating that “Christians should be open to the Holy Spirit teaching the need for change. This has happened in the past over matters like slavery and the role of women. It is happening now over equal rights for those with a homosexual orientation.” as a liberal view. Obviously not all Christians believe or follow the antigay sentiment that exists with in the religion’s basis. Unfortunately there still exists the bigotry, and this moral idea that being gay is bad or wrong. “There will sadly be violence- and I too will fight back. Matthew Shepard was killed- one violence too many, one death not needed. Just like the other CIVIL RIGHTS ERAs WE SPEAK in SILENCE NO LONGER!” (Rudebusch). Unfortunately, the struggle that the Gay rights movement will face will not be squelched by the political stance of the US Government.
In the recent Vice President Debates, Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Joe Biden both provided hypocritical standings on gay rights and same sex marriages. Stating “A McCain Palin administration would not prohibit visitation rights and same-sex civil unions, but we will not support gay marriage or changing the definition of what marriage is, between one man and one women” (Palin), “neither Obama or I support the redefining, from the Civil3 side, of the term Marriage…” This idealism of what marriage is comes from earlier debates by the Bush administration in 2006. The Associated Press, in 2006, put forth an article stating that Bush urged a ban on gay marriage citing “Our policies should aim to strengthen families, not undermine them. And changing the definition of marriage would undermine the family structure” (Bush, Associated Press June. 5, 2006). On the University of Wisconsin Campus, in the October 20th edition of the Spectator, Professor David Chollar was quoted by Tara Cegla, saying, “People were being fearful of being open” in the article Sexuality issues to be discussed in Davies. It is apparent as too why. With a heavy Christian population on campus, and student organizations bringing in Christian preachers to talk on the campus mall and hound students, based on what they wear, how they look, and who they appear to be, it is no wonder why they were being fearful of being open. Being harassed by someone who out right tells you, you are wrong for who you are, does not help anyone in being self secure, or in being confident enough in their self image.
A more brutal realization as to what may lay ahead for the gay movement is one of many issues centered upon in the movie V for Vendetta. The proletariat underclass, in this movie, has been overrun by the Bourgeoisie super class. Anything thought to bring social unrest is outlawed, including homosexuality, and basic free speech. Though, not seen as a political movie, the undertones that the main character “V” fights against are not impossible in the near future. Intolerance, bigotry, religious sovereignty and absolution, are not all that far away in our past, and certainly not an unforeseeable outcome in our future, if people do not stand up for their rights. V, as a character, stands for those who are invisible, masked, beneath the social climate and paradigms, as V said “Who? Who is but the form following the function of what and what I am is a man in a mask… I’m merely remarking upon the paradox of asking a masked man who he is.”
As the GLBTQS rights movement moves forward, they must ask themselves who they are, and more importantly who they will become. Because like V, and like Ellison’s Brother, they are masked, invisible, to a blinded society set with in their social stigmas and paradigms. Most importantly, they must follow in the footsteps of their fore-brothers and sisters of yesteryear civil rights movements. Learn from their mistakes, and push forward their efforts to ensure that their rights, and the rights of any and all people, are preserved. Are the GLBTQS people invisible? Yes, but that is changing, and as it changes, and as they are unmasked and uncloseted, so will their voices be heard, to be equals in our society.

Footnotes: 1) GBLTQS stands for Gay Bisexual Lesbian Transgender Queer Straight ,
2) Bent is a play written about a homosexual relationship founded in a WWII Nazi Concentration camp. The main character, Max, at the end of the play says he loves another man and asks “What’s Wrong With That?” 3) Civil unions are a legal method of “marriage” through the government, unfortunately even now, the full breadth of the rights that come with a civil union for a man and woman, which are much like that of marriage, are not afforded to same-sex couples.

Epilogue
When I was growing up, I was a Pentecostal Christian, and my first kiss was with a boy named Ian in the bathroom of the church when I was eight. It was also the first time that I was ever confronted with the Christian morality of what is wrong with homosexuality. I wrote this review, as I said earlier, to compare the gay movement today to the past movements, and to share with the reader the problems with the current social atmosphere when it comes to being gay (lesbian, bi, etc). My personal experience has been rough, and may even sit with in the realm of the stereotypical gay story. I figured out I was bisexual when I was in high school. Had both boyfriends and girlfriends, and I had a family that was strongly against homosexuality, even though they covered it up with the ritual “I have nothing against gays, but I’d be disappointed if you turned out to be one” statement. When I was in high school I also had a fascination with porn, as do, I think, most teenagers at that age. Sex was a matter of self discovery, but it cost me. After my mother and second step father divorced over extra-marital relationship issues, my mother became even more obsessed with Christianity. She denounced things like Harry Potter because it was witchcraft, forfeited her gay friends, and then denounced me. She called me “an abomination unto god. You should kneel before God here and pray forgiveness and pray He turns you straight.”
In high school I also faced the same ridicule and harassment that other GBLTQ people endured. The school’s GBLTQ group, known as GLASS (Gay Lesbian and Straight Students, if I remember correctly) held their meetings which I tried to attend, and each year after my freshman year, I participated in the Day of Silence. (And have done so since). After I graduated is when my mother kicked me out of the house, not the ritual way, but through silence her self. Ignoring me, and drinking her problems away was one aspect of it. I lived in my car for a month, not letting on that anything was wrong. I finally got a room in Towers Dorms through a friend, who helped me immensely. But even on the liberal campus that UW Eau Claire is, I faced discrimination. In my last year of living on campus in my dorm room, one person felt it necessary to carve “Faggot” in my door. And unfortunately, because I was open about my bisexuality, other people, some gay, pulled pranks and were rude towards me. One person even felt it necessary to go into every men’s bathroom and write on a strip of toilet paper, “Krist can go fuck himself.”
In this way I hope to share my experiences with others so they can understand the heartache that comes from the blindness and deceitful stereotypes that people believe in. And that people who are gay, bi, lesbian, transgender, queer, or straight, do not have to feel anger or pity or disgust towards one another if we can just learn to accept our differences. As the Beatles said, “all we need is love.”

Authorial Meta-Commentary
I wish to describe the purpose and breakdown of this review to better help the reader understand why it is the way that it is. The prologue was meant to serve as a buffer, between the reader and myself. It gives them a sense of why this is being written, beyond the rigidity of the index page.
Part one I chose to provide a historical base or principle (hence the title) to establish several key points about homosexuality, and alternative sexualities. One of them being it is not as young as people think it to be. Homosexuality has been argued over, persecuted against, and just existed, for over two thousand years. It is older than the Negro Rights movement, it is older than the Women’s Rights movement, and has shared and seen all the same stages as these other two rights movements in dozen’s of countries. Two I wanted to establish that it’s possible to for the GBLTQS rights movement to succeed. It will take the same level of endurance and complicity as these other two rights movements, but it will succeed. Thirdly I wanted to ask the questions I provided in the front index (Martin α). Which I believe the first part answers adequately.
Part two and three I focus on the play Bent and V for Vendetta, showing how it is a mirror for the present, as well as a symbolic critique of the closeted sex. As a main part of the paper, I provide more of my opinion, relying on the provided historical texts in reference, rather than direct quote.
Part four I focus on to the modern movement, and try to discuss the opposition that exists and the problems that exist still to this day. It looks at the sociopolitical problems that arise due to the social stigmas and stereotypes that blind people to the reality of the GBLTQS community. I did not touch on the aspect of diseases, though they do proliferate as yet another stereotype. I may touch upon that in a revision of this paper.
Finally the epilogue, this is to give a deeper insight to the reader as to the impact of the social stereotypes that are labeled upon the GBLTQS community. By providing the readers this information, they can put themselves in my shoes, briefly able to imagine the problems I faced, and thus making the disjointed factual review they just read more real. When people are faced with facts, faced to interpret them into the world they know and accept, and when those facts contradict that world, it’s hard to assimilate and accept them as real. But with the simple admittance of what I’ve experienced placed before them those facts become more alive, and profound. I could have been that boy shot and killed in high school at the age of fifteen. I could have been the man thrown off the bridge to his death, or beaten and stabbed. And for what, but for the social stigma of religious belief, the religious morality and ethics that over seventy five percent of US citizens prescribe themselves too. Are morals and ethics worth killing over?
Class-relevance: I also feel that this paper takes into account many of the elements (obscurely and directly) that have been taught in the Theory and Criticism, as well as, my Examining Women Studies class and American Literature since 1945 class. Which all seem to be revolving around one key issue, social blindness. Social blindness, and the act of making people invisible is a continuing problem, and though we may not specifically touch on the function of social blindness, Marxism, Historicism, and even Understanding Comics all comes down to understanding that invisibility. How we perceive people, our selves, and our environment. As for a grade, to be honest I feel that the grade does not matter so much as what I take away from the course. I feel it should not be a matter of As or Bs, but pass or fail. Do I grasp the concepts, understand the arguments. If I had to mark a value on what I’m striving for, it’s an A, but do I deserve an A? I believe I accomplished my goals in this paper. I feel that I accurately created a base for my parts two three and four arguments in part one. Parts two, three, and four exemplifies and answers if the GBLTQS community is invisible by showing current happenings and political situations; that are similar to, and mirror, the social blindness that the other rights movements of the past had experienced. On the other hand I did over do it, I think, in the length of my review. I’d guess it depends on what is expected, I went beyond the minimum five pages (and if it helps double spacing is like totally doubling the number of pages used, I wrote it single spaced and it was really like nine pages.) I don’t know what grade I should get, I’m sure I made some mistakes (grammatically and flow of the writing) so a B maybe? When I started writing this, I felt that I should make it the most detailed and relevant paper I could. In doing so I put a lot of effort into creating a principle on which the GBLTQS rights movement could rest. In doing so I had to explain the history of both the GBLTQS movement it’s self, along with that of other rights struggles (primarily in the US). Though be it that the Gay Liberation Front was originally in Germany and Europe and not in the US. I guess what I’m saying is that it seems that just as we are falling into the study of theory, things were falling into place that were all interconnected, and rather than lose that interconnection, I thought it best to keep them together. And just as this paper is focused on GBLTQS rights, it really is an overhead commentary on the human rights state, and the social issues at hand. Rather, more a question than an answer to what I should get for a grade is, in this age of ours, when we have seen so much suffering, so many people fight for what they believe in and fight for what is right can there still be hatred towards people, over a simple difference in sexual attraction? For that matter why do we see the sexism and racism and class-ism that exists, what purpose was Women’s Suffrage, and Black Suffrage, if it did nothing for everyone? And I suppose maybe those should be the stronger questions answered in this paper. Though if so, how can one answer these questions, when they have yet any true answer?

Meta-commentary Addendum
I need to say that this paper recently has become difficult for me to write, and though it is no excuse for the many problems in this paper I’m sure that exist, I want to share something else that is relevant to this paper.
I feel stumped, or stuck, and have for a long time, and only just recently over the Halloween weekend I went down to La Cross to spend time with friends. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the company of one of them, and even now I feel I’ve fallen in love with this person. For some people this would be an easy fix, a simple admittance, but for me I find myself contemplating the very emotion of love. I have no clue how to deal with it. So now, when I reread Bent and watch V for Vendetta my mind wanders, wondering how deep my care for this person is. I can’t see myself being without him, and yet here I am an hour and a half away from him. What’s worst is that I don’t think he feels exactly the same way I do. How do these characters know they were in love, will I be stuck finding out I loved him a little too late, like Max. Or will I lose the chance like V. Then what?
The truth is in finishing this paper my mind is not on the paper, but far from it.
Krist Martin

Works Cited

From Modernism to Post Modernism, edited by Lawrence Cahoone.
-Young, Iris Marion “The Scaling of Bodies and the politics of Identity” (Pages 370-382)
-Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels “Bourgeois and Proletarians” (Pages 75-81)

Schneir, Miriam. Feminism : The Essential Historical Writings. New York: Vintage, 1994.

Sherman, Martin. Bent. London: Samuel French Inc. , 1979., (as reiterated in the Bent Production and Program for the UWEC 2008 Production directed by Richard Nimke. )

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York : Vintage International, 1949, …1980.
Schneir, Feminism

Bonnie Zimmerman, George E. Haggerty. “Google Books: The Encyclopedia of Lesbian and Gay Histories and Cultures”. October 27th 2008 <http://books.google.com/books?id=0EUoCrFolGcC&a....

Richard D., Mohr. “Google Books: Gays/Justice”. October 27th 2008 <http://books.google.com/books?id=dfUw8Zl0kPEC&a....

V for Vendetta. Dir. James McTeigue. Prod & Screenplay. Andy and Larry Wachowski. Perf. Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Natasha Wightman, John Hurt, Tim Pigott-Smith. DVD. 2006.

Zeitgeist Addendum. Dir. Peter Joseph. Perf. Jacque Fresco, Roxanne Meadows, the Venus Project. DVD. 2008.

Polling data from the 2001 ARIS study, described below, indicate that:

81% of American adults identify themselves with a specific religion: 76.5% (159 million) of Americans identify themselves as Christian. Source: http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_prac2.htm

Interview with Ryan McDaniel (Max in UWEC’s 2008 production of Bent)

Interview with Kyle Arthur Rudebusch President / Founder of
Speaking in Silence No Longer (SSNL)

Lawrence King article, Facebook group, Remembering Lawrence King (Murdered Because He was Gay.) http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8872347853

2008 Vice President Debates, Palin and Biden, 35:00-37:26 time lapse http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11442710/

The Spectator Monday October 20th 2008 Edition, front page article “Sexuality Issues…”

Bibliography

Richter, David H., and Gerald Graff. Falling into Theory : Conflicting Views on Reading Literature. Boston: Bedford/Saint Martin’s, 1999.

George, Diana. Reading Culture : Contexts for Critical Reading and Writing. Ed. John Trimbur. New York: HarperCollins, 1995.

Current Issues and End Questions. New York: St. Martin’s P, 1998.

Foucault, Michel. A History of Sexuality : An Introduction. New York: Vintage, 1990.

Klemperer, Victor. I Will Bear Witness : A Diary of the Nazi Years, 1933-1941. New York: Modern Library, 1999.

Closeted: The Bent People

XtomJames

Joined November 2007

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Artist's Description

An essay on Gay rights

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