Sunday, August 14, 2011

Marcus Bachmann and the Left's Other Little Problem

Last night on Twitter, I re-tweeted someone who noted that they can't stand Michele Bachmann but also can't stand the "Marcus Bachmann is gay" jokes flying around. I agree with this. The whole game is absurd to me for reasons I'll go into. I was promptly told by someone who was clearly a straight "ally" to the cause that he saw it as a valid commentary on "praying the gay away" and isn't it tragic how real the LGBT people's problems are?

Yes, there are real problems for people like me. And some of you are liberals.

We are told every day by popular culture that people who aren't straight and/or cisgender are different in ways that are wrong. I couldn't enjoy a simple House marathon the other day without running into anti-transgender snarkery between two of the characters, for one example.

And the anti-LGBT bigotry of the Right is definitely real. It also serves as a smokescreen for some on the Left to hide their own problem with people like me. And the Marcus Bachmann jokes are the most recent example of it.

I've seen the video footage of him. Yes, my gaydar went off. But someone who calls himself straight triggering a positive reading happens more often than you'd think. Consider the "metrosexual." Or a significant chunk of the male population of Europe. The tackiness of "gay or European" games aside, it's based on a standard reaction set people have. There are also plenty of gay and bisexual men who slide past the 'dar with a false negative, especially to heterosexuals who think they're hip but are mostly reading for signs of queenery.

So Marcus Bachmann, a man nobody has managed to catch with his legs in a wide stance, triggers some people's gaydar and because he has a "pray the gay away" mentality, people think it's fair game to speculate on whether he's gay. Or worse, they decide he's a closet case. And before you can say "Ann Coulter's Adam's apple," we're off to the races again.

The thing about cultural pressure to hate the Other is it's pernicious. It can be very easy to covet the perceived freedom of the openly bigoted to tap into that dark side. And someone on the Right who appears to diverge from cultural norms gets targeted in a misguided attempt to highlight their hypocrisy by people who probably don't realize they're just repeating the same old same old to many of us who have been targeted by it.

The first issue is that his orientation is questioned at all. Without hard evidence, you can't claim he's anything other than what he presents as without it reading as an attempt at labeling. Though to be frank, even if you DID have actual evidence Bachmann likes men, the fact nearly all of the jokes insist that he's gay pulls a double load of bigoted luggage.

The second issue is the problem of bisexual erasure. The culturally imposed binary on sexual orientation and gender identity is the heart of the hatred. Increasingly, the binary of "straight or perverted" is being replaced by "straight or gay," which causes those of us who are neither to continue to suffer while so many who think they're being enlightened to make the change go blithely forward with the new false dichotomy.

So just as saying "Mann Coulter" forces both primary genders into their boxes in the name of liberal attempts to poke at a conservative, claiming Marcus Bachmann is a closet case even in jest both ties gays to the stereotypes and eliminates even the possibility that Bachmann may be a monogamous bisexual who's decided his same-sex desires are something to suppress. Which, I will add, is his privilege the same way my celibate gay cousin is entitled to maintain his virginity until the Pope gets a clue. Even if you disagree with that choice, denying he has the right to make it is arrogant.

I realize pointing out the soft bigotry of the Left isn't going to make me popular with some of you. But this isn't the place to go if you want a queer person petting your head and feeding you ally cookies. Keep that in mind if your first reaction is to start sounding like Derailing for Dummies entries about your gay friends who agree with you. Look up "pandering" and "internalized homophobia" for why.

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