Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sexual Disorientation and the Problem of Eracism: Which Wins Olympic Gold: Misogyny, Racism, or Homophobia?

[image of U.S. white male figure skater Evan Lysacek is from here]

[image of U.S. white male figure skater Johnny Weir is from here]

Click on the following heading for the link to the original site.

Tanith Belbin, Johnny Weir Share Room in Olympic Village

U.S. figure skater Evan Lysacek can't be a happy camper.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer,  Lysacek's ex-girlfriend Tanith Belbin -- an ice dancer -- and his nemesis Johnny Weir are sharing a room in Vancouver's Olympic Village.

A housing problem forced Belbin to choose between sharing a room with Weir or Lysacek.  
Belbin's choice was obvious.

"Johnny and Evan were both in the same boat. It was just the three of us, and there was one room with two single bedrooms," Belbin told the newspaper. "If you take Johnny and myself and Evan and do the math, the only logical answer was me and Johnny."

But Weir's decorating skills have made him the perfect roommate.

"There are aromatic candles, and he had Audrey Hepburn posters and motivational quotes on the wall," Belbin said.

After Tuesday's short program of the men's figure skating competition, Lysacek is in second place, while Weir stands sixth. The free skate is scheduled for Thursday.

The Olympic ice-dance finals take place next Monday, Feb. 22. Both should be well-rested for the competition.
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Get it? The assumption is that Johnny is gay, and that since a (presumably) heterosexual man is sleeping alone, and this presumably gay man is sleeping with Tanith, both boys will sleep well due to not having any sex. As if Evan having a room to himself precludes him from having a guest. And as if Tanith ahd Johnny are only ever going to be "just friends". And as if Tanith and Johnny sharing a room automatically pisses off Evan. (Why would it? Seems to me Evan would be a far less gay camper--I mean happy camper--if Johnny or Tanith were Evan's roommate, under the personal and athletic circumstances.)

There are so many assumptions about the rigidity of sexuality, and one of those assumptions, the most oppressive, is that heterosexuality is inevitable and natural. I'm not disputing that hethood is a norm, but being lesbian and gay is currently also normal in the West, just not as common. Left-handedness is normal, but less common than right-handedness. That doesn't make being a lefty abnormal. Because if the assumption is that things that appear less frequently in society are "abnormal" then whiteness and manhood would be abnormal, relative to the entire global human population. 

But back to happy camping. Forty years into what is considered by white gay male historians to be the beginning of the Gay Liberation Movement--when mostly white gay men and gay male drag queens just said no to being harassed and arrested for being in a gay bar in NYC, heterosexism is still rampant, virulent, and unrelenting. (Misogyny and racism too.) 

The pressure to be publicly quiet about being lesbian and gay is required, to varying degrees, wherever I am in the West. Among white conservatives, homosexuality is incorrectly perceived as "morally wrong and unnatural" white liberals incorrectly perceive it as "entirely natural--just like heterosexuality". In my view, there's nothing natural about one's sexual identity and being lesbian and gay is, by definition, NOT like being heterosexual. Identity, after all, is social and cultural, meaning that any identity is infused with political meaning and value). That progressives seek the end to unequal valuing and treatment of people with differing identities doesn't make the case that identity is asocial.

I find that from white conservatism to white liberalism, the general view is that heterosexuality is, when homopboic push comes to lesbophobic shove, more natural than any other orientation. But white progressives, in my experience, value queerness uber all, with the meaning of queerness being about as elusive as Johnny's answers to questions about his sexual orientation. This is curious to me, as progressivism tends to be deeply white het male supremacist, in a deeply unrecognised and therefore unowned way. Upon closer inspection, the political mandates of contemporary queerness are often antifeminist and, with bitter irony, antilesbian.

But never mind the L word; you won't be hearing about any lesbians at the Olympics. And the references to anyone being gay are veiled--there's code among the sportscasters commenting about Johnny Weir. He's "controversial" or "notorious", as if tabloid news-making white male hetheads (think David Letterman and John Edwards) aren't either of those things. 

Only coded lingo will be spoken because the athletes themselves face fierce pressure, most especially from potential corporate sponsors who won't touch them with a ten foot vaulting pole if they are absolutely "out". It's also not polite, apparently, to remark on television that someone is lesbian or gay. When k.d. lang performed at the Opening Ceremony, there was no public celebration of her as a lesbian artist. But if the artist is heterosexual, we are likely to hear TMI about her or his romantic proclivities--think John Mayer--especially so close to Valentine's Day. Heterosexuality is publicly displayed and gushes like a punctured jugular around this time of year, and perhaps that's one reason why the color of "the holiday" is red.

What follows is an excerpt from a rather fucked up interview by Oursport with Johnny Weir. It is from *here*. Outsport appears to me to be a white middle class gay male focused sports website.

OS: You once wrote on your Web site that, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” I don’t know you, but I’ve followed your career for several years. I saw Pop Star on Ice. I know lots of straight guys, and I’ve never seen any of them do the things I’ve seen you do . And it seems to me that you haven’t just shown us the cover of the Johnny Weir book, you’ve shown us several chapters. You’ve shown us the 10-page glossy photo insert. From everything you’ve shown us over, can’t we at least discern whether Barnes & Noble would put the book in the gay & lesbian section?
Johnny: My hope is that Barnes & Noble will put it in the best-seller section.

OS: How many sequins are too many?

Johnny: What kind of question is that? There are never too many.

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Amidst Johnny's candor on book sections and costume accessories, come the other questions just around the bend, so to speak, about who he fucks. Evan Lysacek has been paired romantically with the presumed flagrantly heterosexual Ice Dancing champion, Tanith Belbin, who has won many competitions with her skating (but not romantic) partner, Ben Agosto. Tanith and Evan are, apparently, ex-romantic partners. I'm not sure when they broke up but they were allegedly together for a while. 

In a curious twist of fate that would be well-suited to a Shakespearean comedy or a Greek drama, Tanith's current Olympic Athlete's Village roommate during the Vancouver Games is... Johnny Weir. He had a choice as to whether to room with her or Evan, and as he and Evan are arch competitors, he went with Tanith. That, and Johnny and Tanith have known each other forever, and feel very comfortable rooming together. She had decisions to make as well: she could have roomed with two other woman athletes, but wouldn't have had her own bedroom. With Johnny, they each get separate rooms and some shared living space as well. So she welcomed him to be her only roommate. They get along famously as the media has reported, noting how he perfumed the rooms before she arrived because they smelled of wet dog prior to his aromatic and artistic redecorating. 

What follows next is a twist on the usual homophobic CRAP. And I applaud it. I found it *here*.

Are Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek gay?

I know it angers and enrages many Republicans when such a question is asked. But it seems strange that George Bush paraded his lover constantly on the campaign trail in 2000 and 2004. And now McCain is doing the same thing with his opposite sex lover Cindy.

Why do straights publicly flaunt their sexual orientation and even display their sex partners in public when it has absolutely nothing to do with their job? Yet the minute a gay person is discussed, we are told to shut up because it is such a private and intimate personal issue. We are told by heterosexual militants that "who cares" and "their private life is nobody's business.". Yet strangely when the tables are turned, straights consider their domestic partners to be the most important person in their lives. Dubya said in 2004 that his decistion to marry his bedroom partner Laura, was the most important of his life. WTF?
  • 1 year ago

Additional Details

In the case of Johnny Weir, what proof do you have? Liberace insisted that he was straight. Should we accept his word as proof? Republicans don't like a person labelled as gay and demand to know what proof you have.

We all know that many many men involved in figure skating are not only actively homosexual, but unrepentant about it also. Why is it considered an insult to assume that a man involved in figure skating is gay? Couldn't it be considered a compliment?
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Next we have another related matter. Race. It seems Winter sports are associated strongly with being Caucasian. And there is talk among white people that the Winter Games are white, and the Summer Games are, well, less white (meaning Black). But let's consider, for a moment, that race is only Black and white. Let's consider that there are, for example, Indigenous people, whose culture gets exploited in the Opening Ceremony to entertain a largely non-Indigenous audience, and that there are also East Asian people, who are not white and are not Black.

We find Southeast Asian (Filipino) and East Asian (Japanese and Korean) heritage just among the men's short track speed skating teams. Here is the results of one race (that's competition, not ethnicity):

Men's 1500 m Records

Final Ranking

Final Rank Helmet No Country Name Best Time
1 243 Korea LEE Jung-Su 2:10.949
2 256 United States OHNO Apolo Anton 2:11.072
3 252 United States CELSKI J.R. 2:12.460 

This is what the medalists look like:

Not a one of them are socially raced white. So the next time you hear someone remark about the lack of people of color in the Winter Games, please remind them that people of Asian descent are of color.

A point being made here in this post is that perceptions are sometimes deceiving, and deceptions are sometimes required if one seeks profitable levels of achieving.

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