Last night I finally caught the season première of True Blood. True Blood is something of guilty pleasure to me so I didn’t really feel any urgency to watch it live but I’ll definitely watch if I’m up at 2 in the morning and it’s on. After watching the show I wanted to get the reactions of others who follow the show more closely and may have caught something I missed or has a unique insight into the show. My first stop was Racialicious where they hold a round table who live blogs the show and has great commentary, this however stuck in my craw a bit.
Some background, Steve Newlin was a murderous psychopath who preached hate of vampires before he was killed and turned into a vampire after which he came out of the closet. The scene that Tami is reacting to is the now Gay Vampire Rev. Steve Newlin trying to force himself upon Jason Stackhouse and here’s my problem with the quote. Everyone who’s attracted to men on the show tries to get with Jason Stackhouse later in the episode he walks into a party and women literally just start taking their clothes off. So of course Steve Newlin is going to try to force himself upon the guy. Steve Newlin has been well established as a psychopath. Since he’s been on the show you knew that he had no qualms about murdering people so why would he have any about raping a guy who had sex with his wife?
Why this innocuous quote bothers me is because it betrays a certain predilection progressive intellectuals have toward making oppressed groups into saints to insure their acceptance into mainstream society. Here’s another example
“Gay people don’t actually try to convert people. That’s Jehovah’s Witnesses you’re thinking of.”
I understand why people think this is a good quote, homophobes regularly worry about someone “turning” them gay so naturally the reaction is to assert that doesn’t ever happen. Because gay people just aren’t interested in straight people but that’s not quite true is it. Gay people, like all people, are attracted to who they’re attracted to. If they like someone who is heterosexual they may still try to pursue that relationship. This is normal human behavior it doesn’t mean that gay people are out to get straight people it means they’re attracted to who they’re attracted to. Some people may respect that someone isn’t interested, others will be more reckless but either response isn’t a judgement upon the LGBTQ community but when Tina Fey asserts that it doesn’t happen then it makes it easier to keep that train of thought going. In our rush to assuage the fears of others we are dehumanizing LGBTQ people too. We do it in a different way prescribing attributes and qualities to promote an ideal that no especially large and diverse group can possible live up to which not only makes progressives look either naïve or disingenuous but forces gay folk into being a representative for their whole community all the time and while some are up to the task I’m sure a good many will fall far from the ideal.
I understand it, heck, I do it myself. I shook my head at the Crispy Chicken Mary J. Blige commercial. Having a balanced and fair representation in the media is important and I understand why we’d like oppressed groups to be “perfect victims” but all we do when we do that is betray a certain insecurity in our arguments. Trayvon Martin is a victim regardless of his past, LGBTQ people deserve full rights regardless of potential rapists, murderers or jerks among them.