Friday, March 30, 2012


This past week the topic in my two Intro Psych classes has been Identity, Self-Expression and Behaviour Modification.  On the one hand we have not covered as much syllabus material as I would have liked, however I would not change the way these classes have gone this week "for love nor money"!

Yesterday, a group of students, male and female, hyjacked my early afternoon class!  They had a question in mind, backed up by TV clips and other examples.  They stayed right on topic. . .talking about each person's identity - how we see ourselves and how we express or communicate our persona to others in our day-in/day-out communication and interaction with others. . . and what we can and maybe should do to change our behavior  - the way we come across to others.

One of the strong examples they used was how gay lifestyle is portrayed on TV and gay self-produced TV programs and how ordinary people - straight and gay - perceive the images, identity, behaviour shown as part of being gay, living a gay lifestyle.  As examples of this they used clips from programming on LOGO - the gay TV channel on cable.  What they centered in on was RuPaul's Drag Race. . .!

When they began my stomach dropped to my feet: OHMYSWEETLORD. . .not drag queens!  But I am very proud of them: they handled this very well.  First off they acknowleged that drag queens are not totally the gay scene, and RuPaul her/himself does not come off as a particularly nice person. . .s/he is mean, sarcastic, cruel, terribly narcissistic, etc etc. . and that is the persona s/he chooses to portray. . . "Maybe it is all an act, but that is the idea many people have about how/what gay guys are!"  [ Oh I hope not!]

Have you ever watched RuPaul, the Logo Channel? I confess I  have a hard time, personally, with portrayal of being gay. . . .if that is how they see us.  They used some of the principles commonly heard in the fields of nutrition. . .mainly "We are what we eat."  If this is the way these people live, day in/day out. . if these are their goals, aims and desires, if this is how they talk and treat one another "because this is how it is". . .this is the kind of person they young guys are going to become.

They brought out that too often being gay and lesbian is shown this way on gay-tv because the ordinary run-of-the-mill gays and lesbians live/lead very boring lives.  "Most gays and lesbians are just like us. . with the exception of 'the object of their affections'.  Without that aspect you cannot pick them out in a crowd."

They did a great job and I am very proud of them.  They were not trying to impress me or anyone else; they were talking about these things from their own real lives.  I've told them on several occasions "I love you all dearly, I think you are the best things since sliced bread. . .LOL. . .and I am thrilled I do not have to take any of you home with me at the end of the day. . . "   hahahahaas all over the place. . .

Later on in the office I share with two other guys I turned on the Logo TV Channel and found The RuPaul Drag Race. . . . watched it and was embarrassed to death. . .almost.  No way I would want anyone to think this is what it means to be gay. . . that gay guys are like this!  I hope I am not intolerant. . . that I can be compassionate toward them, etc. . .all the good things we hope to be with one another. . . but I am terribly grateful I do not have a need or desire to do drag. 

So any reactions, comments, experiences, ideas as I asked yesterday, would be very  helpful for me 
at this time. . . . justin


17 comments:

J said...

I think a more balanced portrayal is presented by the Logo program 1 Girl, 5 Gays. You get the entire spectrum in that show, except that all of the participants are apparently in their 20's. A few are more stereotypically gay, but slightly more than half aren't. The same goes for their dress, behavior, and stated values. RuPaul is just a freak show, and the participants are pathetic.

gp said...

There are so many issues that you've raised here Justin, don't even know where to start. First of all, i acknowledge that i'm far from an authority on drag... or anything else that you wrote about for that matter. And i'm not a fan either- i don't hate it, but it's not my cup of tea.

First, it seems to me it's a mistake to think that all drag performers are gay. Many are, but i'm quite sure that there are lots of straight people doing drag. Secondly, i think it's one thing to say you don't enjoy watching drag and another thing to feel revulsion about it. Because drag's so commonly associated with being gay, i think revulsion about it is a form of internalized homophobia. Much the same as the common revulsion towards gay guys who are very effeminate. Most of us see these as taboo behaviors that cause feelings of disgust, contempt, etc.

It's also really important to emphasize that things that are outside the mainstream, that make us uncomfortable aren't automatically bad or immoral. It also should be kept in mind that the modern movement for gay rights owes a ton to the drag queens at the Stonewall Bar who decided they wouldn't put up with any more harassment from the cops.

Finally, it's important to realize that nobody should think that tv is a good reflection of any large, diverse group of people. It would be crazy to think that all Italian-Americans in New Jersey are like the characters on the Jersey Shore show.

RADICALJOE said...

Justin, I worked at Seaworld, in the warehouse, forgot his name. He used to do drag in Daytona, and elsewhere. Loved to dress as Barabra Strieslend, He looked pretty doggone good I was told. He even wore high heels very well to work, when he could get away with it He had a gay partner. Thank God he didn't know I was gay. Wanted me to find him a home to buy in the gay neighbor hook. Couldn't find any thing. I think that Logo is only out there to make money, they don't have any or much of anything to give gay's much to watch it, except they will have a woman asking 5 gay guys questions about blow jobs, and many intimate acts of their relationship. RuPaul is a rat for money. Think he doesn't know what he is. Can't stand the program. Rather watch the Alasha State Troopers, They have a lot more Macho Guys that give me a bit of lust............. T\

Richard said...

Come to Ptown in October when all the straight guys and their wives come to town so that the guys can cross dress for the weekend. Now, anyone who was parachuted into town that weekend would think that those guys were doing each other underneath the Boatslip dock. Not! But they DO get off on this scene sexually.

Gary Kelly said...

I think you should ask your students to choose a straight self-produced TV program that exemplifies typical straight behavior.

jimm said...

This has me remembering tv's Barney Miller show. They included the homophobic, as well.

The identity thing, umm... ppl mistake my emotions all the time. What they see on the outside, isnt always whats going on inside.

Your students should visit a gay scene/bar/community. And go as they are, who they are. And not necessarily go as a group.

GreginAdelaide said...

Not much I can add, you know my "position" on these subjects from my comments on your last post and others, I think I've said it all before.

In fact your reaction to drag and the stereotypical gay person and the "formula gays" we generally see on telly and in film are very close to my own.
I sort of have confusion in my head, to some extent. I don't like them/it, I am not revulsed, but I'm not comfortable with their demenour and the image they project...that it would rub off on me...ie that it would effect the way that others would see me, if I was "out". In fact that has been a big factor in my staying in the shadows, as not being out to anyone other than I choose to be out to.

Yes, "gp" your comment that "... it's important to realize that nobody should think that tv is a good reflection of any large, diverse group of people" is something that all of us "normal gays" ...or "average gays" should perhaps fight? ...or at elast draw more attention to....but if we do, then we risk being associated with and judged ...... and I utterly reject being judged by others.

Hmm......I'll stop there. I've probably confused us all enough..heehee! (But it was my turn Coop!)

GreginAdelaide said...

Haha, good comment Gary.

TV and film are not (real) life.
Life is too boring to be portrayed as entertainment.

Sames goes for gay TV and film.... but Justin, be glad that your students knew that without your guidance. Perhaps we can all take heart from this.
Maybe those drags and queens and stereo-gays only impact narrow-minded idiots anyway, so they do "us" little harm?

JustinO'Shea said...

JIMM. . .good suggestion. Thanks. jo's

Jim said...

Here goes....I LOVE RuPaul's Drag show!! I think he is the BEST Drag Queen around. If he can pull off doing the runway convincingly as a female model, then the drag is a piece of cake for him.
Some guys are born with more female hormones than others....thus they find themselves expressing in a 'female' mode more so than a male one.

I admire anybody who finds comfort and acceptance in themselves....male of female and any mix of the two.

We always want to put people into a mold so they 'fit in' our concept of how males/females ought to look.

RuPaul's drag image is just that...an image/character. I would expect he is quite different in his everyday persona. And if he isn't I still admire him for taking who he is and doing something with it.

Gary Kelly said...

Well, there ya go. J reckons RuPaul is just a freak show and Jim reckons RuPaul is a hoot.

I've often seen references to "internalized homophobia" in articles posted on the Dunes and now I'm thinking that gp's comment stacks up: Because drag's so commonly associated with being gay, i think revulsion about it is a form of internalized homophobia. Much the same as the common revulsion towards gay guys who are very effeminate. Most of us see these as taboo behaviors that cause feelings of disgust, contempt, etc.

Those of us who have expressed our disapproval of gays who are effeminate or "stereotypical" might be in need of a bit of soul searching. Judge not, etc...

Coop said...

I listen to a conservative talk jock named Howie Carr. He's very locally focused and he's downright funny. A gay former reporter even says that Howie is a Good guy. I obviously don't agree with Howie on gay marriage. Anyway, a caller said that he got caught in the Pride parade traffic in Miami. "Fat guys in leather slapping each other on the ass". THAT was a justification against gay marriage.
I always keep that in mind and it helps illustrate why I have the opinions that I do. One experience shaped that caller's whole viewpoint.
If gay men want to act like that, that's fine. But I resent being associated with that lifestyle choice. I wouldn't do that in a gay bar... let alone on the street. That's not the man I am. Gay people need to show the world ALL of what we are. If it's taboo for heterosexual couples to take their sexual tastes out in public... maybe we shouldn't violate that and demand equal treatment.

My apologies if I'm off topic :)

JustinO'Shea said...

APOLOGIZE to NO ONE. . . most def not off-topic...not at all, Coopsta.

I agree. Fat guys in leather chaps with ass hanging out is totally gauche. . .out of place. Taste-free.

Please,use a "plain brown paper wrapper". . LOL. . it's a dead giveaway! rflmsao.

I'm with you here: I'd never walk the streets with goodies on display. . ..ever. . .ho ho ho

Of course, always in my most humble opinion. . . .LOLOLOL

J said...

I frankly don't care if the screaming cat fights are on RuPaul, Jersey Shore or any other reality show. They are all trashy. My attitudes are not homophobic in origin, but are solely rooted in my sense of taste.

GreginAdelaide said...

J .... I agree.
Personal taste, personal preference, personal "approval" even personal revulsion (take note Gary) .... all that does not equal public judgement or "internalised homophobia".

I do not need to soul search because this is not a judgment, it is just my personal opinion, my personal reaction, my preference ...call it what you will. It is not cause for me to reconsider my reaction at all.

As long as I don't go flaunting my opinion/preference/reaction to all who don't care, like a leather-clad fat arse, then I can be happy with it.

Heehee, but then now that I've said it...it's not personal any more, doh!

Stew said...

It's all in the name of entertainment. The comparison of Drag Race to Jersey Shore is spot-on!
I don't think that all straight people are like Snooky.
I also believe that it's good to laugh every now and then.
Yes, I've watched it.
Yes, a good friend does drag.
No, there's no chance of seeing drag or drama from me.
I live an "out" lifestyle. I represent "me as gay" and people love me. No one associates me with RuPaul.

JustinO'Shea said...

STEW. . .right on. . No One would ever mistake you for MsPaul. . hahaha
Like your perspective. . jo's