Casual Homophobia in the Media
Everyone and everything these days is labelled, usually pretty badly. Labelled by any sort of “otherness” that they have. Often the label in question doesn’t quite fit anyway; it doesn’t quite cut it and so it is used to limit and to inhibit, rather than to educate and explain. The Daily Fail et al constantly have headlines spouting, “LESBIAN C-Lister Does Something Not Really That Interesting,” or, “Bald Black Lady Goes to the Shops,” or something as equally ridiculous (you get the idea). It isn’t in any way news. At best, it’s some ignorant, mediocre chat peppered with yesteryear's questionable ideas on What. Is. Normal.
The frequency with which the tabloids use queer terms in their headlines is shocking. It seems like every day there is a sensationalist story to be made out of LGBTI themes. Now, is it outright offensive when the tabloids use the words “lesbian” or “gay”? Well, no – not in the sense that, if someone decides to shout “lesbian” at me on the street (which people have the gall to do more often than you’d think) it’s not a derogatory term in itself; it’s a fact. This isn’t new information. Thanks very much for pointing it out, yes I am a lesbian, now why are you shouting at me and *ahem* whyareyouanoseyarseface?! *ahem*. But, by the same token, the person shouting on the street isn’t shouting “lesbian” to be nice. Y’know in case I was still in denial – helping a girl out with a big hug and some encouragment: “Lesbian! It’s okay, go forth and prosper. Wear your dungarees with pride! I hear flannel shirts are so on-trend this season. You’ll look great!” No, it’s always done to exclude. To make others look at you too. To remind you that you’re 'different.' Similarly, hacks at the Dailies are using LGBTI terms to draw attention to shoddy, lazy and to be perfectly honest, banal journalism. “Look, look kids – this is what the deviants do! Now, don’t be doing that too – but here, come have a look!”
Documentary channels are filled with shows about transgendered individuals. Almost all of them are entitled something along the lines of, 'My Wrong Penis: A story of wrong. And of penis.' They are concerned with the abject physicality of trans surgery. People want to know what they cut off; and what they don’t. They want to look at the circus.
This isn’t necessarily because the viewing public (or reading public) are horrid, cruel people. They are told to point and to look because that’s exactly what these newspapers and documentaries are doing. They are told to behave this way by the mainstream media: that it’s okay to use these terms in these ways.
Is it en mass ignorance? Absolutely. Should I be offended? I think so! However, I also take personal responsibility for not questioning the media, for not telling them that I am offended and the reasons why. I take responsibility for not asking the people on the street who shout “lesbian" at me, exactly what they are doing. More importantly, I take responsibility for not asking why are they doing it, and why are they so interested in getting my attention in this way.