Reflections on Ellen Page’s “Gaycation”

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a United States citizen, I am well acquainted with the various acts of oppression and attacks we face as an overall community in this country. It is never easy for any person to deal with any kind of oppression, regardless of the circumstances, but it is very evident that there are some demographics of people who face much more severe forms of oppression than others. There are various different countries and cultures that heavily demonize and oppress queer people, and in that respect I am considerably lucky.

Ellen Page and her best friend Ian Daniel, set out to investigate queer culture across the globe, visiting countries like Japan, Brazil, and Jamaica. In this documentary series, they explore how queerness is treated in each country, analyzing both the celebration of LGBT pride and the unfortunate discrimination many queer people face.

In their most recent episode, the duo travelled to Jamaica, a country that actively condemns homosexuality. On a daily basis, queer people are kicked out of their homes, shunned by their communities, verbally and physically attacked, and even killed. Ellen and Ian interviewed a small group of LGBT individuals who blatantly reveal the harsh reality of what it means to be a queer person in Jamaica. The group goes on to discuss how they were all abandoned by their families because of who they are and currently remain homeless, poor, and constantly aware of the threat of danger they face every day. It was heartbreaking to hear about the conditions in which LGBT Jamaicans live and how members of their own community continually attack and demonize them. However, the reasoning or justification of this aggressive homophobia seems to stem partly from religion.The episode examines the influence the church has on homophobia, and how scripture guides mainstream principles throughout the country. Various interviewees claimed that homosexuality is both a mental disorder and a sin. It is not accepted, or tolerated at any level. Gay Jamaicans do not have the same freedoms that many other LGBT individuals have across the globe. This is not to say that there is no hope. The queer people interviewed were very positive about the future, although the main goal of many is to simply stay alive.

Regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, it is important for anyone to become aware of the various adversities LGBT people face all over the world. We are all humans, after all, and we should be informed of the injustices that many of our fellow humans face. Even simply being informed is a step in the right direction, and I encourage everyone to at least watch one episode. I have thoroughly enjoyed the show thus far and look forward to hearing about how queer culture is treated and maintained in the various other countries Ellen and Ian visit.

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The Fight Against Gays

       Religious liberty is attempting to make a most unflattering comeback in the United States. Mike Pence, Republican Governor of Indiana, recently signed a Religious Liberty Bill modeled on the former Religious Restoration Act. The bill will legally allow business owners and the like to refuse goods and services to LGBT individuals on the basis of religious freedom. While Pence later went on to “fix” the bill, the fix does not directly apply to religious groups and LGBT individuals are still unprotected by Indiana law. The fix was simply a way to make the bill more palatable to those opposed to it. Arkansas, Louisiana, and Georgia are also in the process of enacting their own Religious Liberty bills, further enhancing the threat to LGBT Americans. The bill in question goes way beyond upholding religious liberty. It allows for discrimination on the grounds of faith. Many religious people argue that they should not be forced to participate in a same-sex wedding or serve same-sex couples and individuals because they believe it is sinful and unnatural. And of course these same people go on to implement the ever popular “it’s say so in the Bible” excuse. Anti-LGBT christians do not want to knowingly aid those of that “lifestyle”. But in what way is discrimination supposedly Christian? Of course no one who supports this bill is willing to admit to what it actually does, that it legally allows someone to discriminate against another person. Of course they deny it. Read the news articles and watch the videos. They cannot outwardly admit to it.

        Interestingly enough, no one is preventing Christians from practicing their faith, going to church, praying, wearing whatever religious garments and accessories they choose to. Yet many still claim that is in fact the Christians who are being discriminated against. However, the Christians are not the ones being denied service, and that is the very important difference of the matter. One cannot infringe upon someone else’s rights, call it religious liberty, and then act as if they are the real victim in question. It is completely unethical. It is also uneconomical. Businesses will only end up losing profit by turning away paying customers on the sole basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Big businesses like Apple will take a stance against states in which the bill is enacted, which will certainly not be a loss for the billion dollar corporation, but rather for the various local Christian-run eateries and flower shops. Hopefully, it is this argument that will turn some heads because apparently money is much more greatly valued than the rights of other people. Needless to say, there are many Christians who strongly disagree with using religion as an excuse for homophobia. However, it is the Anti-LGBT Christians whose voices overpower the non-discriminatory ones.

Exposing “Masculine” and “Feminine” Qualities

The definitions our society has attributed to masculinity and femininity widely contrast. In fact, they are the exact opposites. When we think of masculine we use words like dominant, strong, and independent. When we think of feminine we use words like submissive, frail, and dependent. While both women and men do contain a mixture of both of these qualities, for some reason it is only acceptable for men to be completely masculine and for women to be completely feminine. For this, we can blame society.

However, these words, these adjectives, are faulty. They shove men and women into tiny boxes, forcing them to “conform” to these ideals. One is to believe that a masculine man can take care of everything, provide for the family, and never cry, while a feminine woman is weak and must obey her husband or any other male authoritarians. Obviously, these are two extremes ranging from super human to helpless. But if we are to take these definitions so literally, as we generally do, we have to consider the extreme sides.

I have heard many people make the bold “statement” that masculine women are lesbians, and feminine men are gays. When such statements are made, at least to me, it is obvious that these reverse characteristics are meant to be taken as an insult and as an abnormality, which so happens to be considered wrong or disdainful. These claims may be made for various reasons, but the important part is that they are made at all. It appears to be a rather troublesome thing to be “different”, existing outside of societal ideas and/or normalities. It is not acceptable to set ourselves apart.

And although being feminine is an insult for men and women, women are at a disadvantage because masculinity is something they should never ever possess. If they adhere to their given roles as weak and submissive, they are inferior. (I mean, who wants to be told that they’re weak?) And if women are masculine, they are either lesbians (which is a bad thing apparently) or undesirable. Feminine men do appear to be at a certain disadvantage, but in the end, they are still men, men who own everything and rule the world.

To conclude, the terms masculine and feminine are absolutely ridiculous. We do not need to use these adjectives ever. They are insulting and absolutely useless. Humans are individuals. We are all inherently different and we all possess different qualities, regardless of sex or gender. We are unique. We have brains. We have entire thesauruses and dictionaries to provide us with more appropriate and accurate words to describe each and every individual we meet. There is no need to clump an entire gender into one “ideal” category. We’re better than that, or at least, I hope so.

*I decided to write this because of these comments that I have viewed recently:

[“Women aren’t supposed to be too strong. If women were strong, they’d be men (or lesbians).

What man in his right mind would want to have sex with another man? That’s gay. Therefore, women should be slightly submissive. It’s the essence of femininity.”

“A man wants to be with a woman who’s a woman – the type of feminine woman that is rapidly becoming extinct.”]

Well, boys, here’s a little tip:  If there is a vagina attached to her, there’s a good chance that she just might be woman.