Category Archives: homophobia

May 29, 2013, 1:52 pm

Homophobia at Harvard and Other Hideous Horrors

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In the intellectual spirit of the man himself, let me ask a counterfactual: why have so many people temporarily abandoned longstanding critiques of Niall Ferguson in favor of condemning him as a homophobe?

My guess is that Ferguson is not a homophobe, at least not in the conventional sense of wanting to exclude gay men from work and public life because they are gay, or not wanting his son to marry one. Having been educated at Oxford, where, according to his Wikipedia entry, he became dear friends with right-wing queer Andrew Sullivan, I can’t quite imagine that Ferguson is uncomfortable with white, gay men like John Maynard Keynes either.  I mean Oxford’s intellectual history is as gay as it gets, right? (more…)

August 30, 2011, 9:06 am

News Flash: Hollywood Still In Closet, Drag Kings Freak Famous Christians Out

I will be one of the first to admit that I don’t really get Lady Gaga, not the way other people do.  But I’m starting to.

The first time I saw her was on American Idol, doing a hit song that I had never heard, “Poker Face.” I Tweeted to FaceBook, “Who *is* this Gaga person?” One of my cultural studies colleagues from the South, whose partner wrote the music for the biggest trans off-Broadway hit since Rocky Horror, shot back, “She is a *genius* — that’s who she is.”

Suddenly a song that had just been blending in on my car radio made itself obvious, and I began to follow Gaga’s rise to super-stardom.  Like many campy performers, she is particularly popular among gay men. However, unlike some of the more famous disco queens (here I would cite Donna Summer’s long reluctance to connect to gay fans and the ever-ungrateful Gloria Gaynor, who said in 2007 that she viewed her…

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October 5, 2010, 11:47 am

Straight People, Listen! The Pervasiveness of Cruelty In Mass Culture

Tessie Hutchinson was in the center of a cleared space by now, and she held her hands out desperately as the villagers moved in on her. “It isn’t fair,” she said. A stone hit her on the side of the head. Old Man Warner was saying, “Come on, come on, everyone.” Steve Adams was in the front of the crowd of villagers, with Mrs. Graves beside him.


“It isn’t fair, it isn’t right,” Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.

                                          Shirley Jackson, The Lottery (1948)

Last weekend the Radical household went to see The Social Network (David Fincher, 2010), otherwise known as “The Facebook movie.”  Starring the eerily enigmatic Jessie Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, it is a must-see, a fast-paced drama about the birth of the social networking site that any fool can use, and any fool does.  I left the theater feeling slightly soiled, in part because…

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September 11, 2010, 3:13 pm

Terry Jones, Fanatacism and the Violence of Bumper-Sticker Politics

It looks like Terry Jones will not burn a Qur’an today, the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that occurred in the United States on September 11 2001, although I fully expect that some other fanatic will. The publicity surrounding this proposed violence around a sacred object has been so great that Jones’ counterparts elsewhere in the world have already performed a series of retaliatory actions, and I am very glad that I did not schedule my AHA book prize committee to meet in Washington today as we had originally planned to do.

Although not a jihadist, I too have always been offended by needlessly offensive actions, signs and bumper stickers that make sport of things I care about; I even dislike ones that announce other people’s political positions or social identities. I dislike Confederate flags for all the reasons you might expect, but I dislike even more those people who…

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May 30, 2010, 11:59 am

Sunday Radical Roundup: (Don’t) Ask, (Don’t) Tell Memorial Day Edition

Congressional Dems Reach Down And Locate Their ‘Nads: Will long-standing legal discrimination against gay and lesbian service people be struck down this summer? We at Tenured Radical certainly hope so. Although we are more than ambivalent about armed conflict, we are not in the least ambivalent about the right to serve in the military without discrimination because of race, gender or sexual orientation. As Janet Halley argued years ago in Don’t: A Reader’s Guide To The Military’s Anti-Gay Policy (Duke, 1999), this has not been an overwhelmingly popular item for queer activism. The fight for marriage — by which overwhelmingly white, well-to-do queers confer rights and wealth on each other just like straight people — has been far more popular than the right to military service, which is often the path to citizenship, education and income for people who are working-class, immigrant …

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September 20, 2009, 2:12 pm

In Search Of The History That Hasn’t Happened: Caster Semenya, Gender Barriers And The Right To Compete

Several weeks ago, while watching some early round matches at the U.S. Open, a friend of mine and I were discussing how unbelievably homophobic the world of sports still is. Of course, you might point out that we were having this conversation at the National Tennis Center, which is named after a lesbian. Billie Jean King first fought sexism in the sport; was then forced out of the closet; and then, having lost all her sponsorships, competed as an out lesbian. Subsequently, Martina Navratilova (pictured at left in all her glorious butchness) came out, lost her sponsorships, competed as an out lesbian and — also like King– became a serious player in the political and legal struggle for civil equality.

But friends, this boundary in tennis was broken thirty years ago. Where is the history of queer athletes moving into the mainstream that should have followed? Can you name more than…

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February 7, 2009, 6:32 pm

Advanced Interviewing; or, My Favorite Martian

“Dear Professor Radical,” wrote a longtime lurker who had finally decided, in desperation, to reveal hirself. “You told us about the job letter. About the phone call. About the conference interview. About wardrobe — even though you obviously know nothing about clothes: everyone knows you wear nothing but black and grey trousers from Banana Republic, complemented by matching T-shirts. And yet, right on the brink of crossing the finish line, you have abandoned us. WHAT ABOUT THE CAMPUS INTERVIEW, DAMMIT?!?”

Well, I’m sorry. This has been quite a dilemma for me, in part because we have been too busy interviewing at Zenith for me to attend to any of my professional responsibilities, much less write blog posts. But I had an ethical problem as well: should I actually be giving advice about campus visits when we, in the history department at Zenith, were interviewing eleven candidates …

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January 5, 2009, 2:49 pm

Hello, American Historical Association: My Name Is The Tenured Radical And I Am Here To Recruit You

So today I am home from the American Historical Association Annual Meeting, and instead of re-reading job candidate files, I am thinking about transgender activist Sylvia Rae Rivera, who is pictured on the left (as she always was.) I am thinking about San Francisco organizer Harvey Milk, pictured below, the first openly gay man to be elected to public office and the person from whom I have ripped off my title. As those who have seen the new Gus Van Sant movie Milk or read Randy Shilts’s book The Mayor of Castro Street know, the signature opening line of Harvey’s political speeches played on the stereotype of predatory criminal queers obsessed with “recruiting” the young into their “lifestyle.” He would hop up on whatever platform was available and screech, “My name is Harvey Milk, and I am here to recruit you!”

Thanks to a commenter, one of my first reads today (after the New York Times

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March 18, 2008, 8:51 pm

Conquest; Or, Why Do We Still Think Tenure Is A Good System?

The truth is that many of us don’t think tenure is a good system, and would prefer to be in a union. Tenure is, in fact, a more or less abusive system, and one that reproduces power hierarchies as they exist in society and in the university. Many of us who make it through the tenure process with the lifetime sinecure that is promised often do so because we are really good at repressing what actually happened. It is true that women, queers and people of color are not always turned down anymore just because our presence makes others uncomfortable, or just because the kind of knowledge we produce is actually critical of what more senior people in the department do. But it is also true that the people who control tenure nearly always make us hurt for it, even when we get it. I was lucky: I got to put the hurt off until I was being reviewed for full professor.

Then I was not so lucky…

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February 29, 2008, 12:56 pm

Being “Diverse” in the Middle Ground: Thoughts on Racisms, Sexisms and the Many Phobias

Gayprof, who is a continual inspiration to my desire to write and think better, recently put up this post on being a “minority” in a humanities department. In “Enough Minorities? Minority Enough? (Part I)” he responds to Oso Raro’s thoughts in his this recent post at Slaves of Academe (which, if you have never visited it, is also one of the most beautifully written blogs I know.) In addition, Gayprof is following on a previous post of his own about so-called diversity hiring, and presumably since “Enough Minorities? Minority Enough?” is labeled “Part I” there will be at least one more follow up. I’m looking forward to it. And for those who want to read a really great piece on similar questions, turn to my colleague Indira Karamcheti’s classic article,”Caliban in the Classroom.” Originally published in Radical Teacher, it is anthologized in Pedagogy: The Question of Impersonation, Ed…

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