Racism, Homophobia, & Facebook Controversy

Yesterday I posted the following on Facebook:

“If you’re uncomfortable with two men kissing on a TV show in 2015 then just know that in 1968 some people were uncomfortable with a white man kissing a black woman on a TV show (Star Trek). If you’re cool with being this generation’s version of that person, then by all means carry on.”

With it was a link to how some fans of the show ‘The Walking Dead’ were bothered by the fact that there was a kiss between two homosexual male characters on the most recent episode. When I posted this I thought it was going to be a throw away post that almost no one acknowledged. Apparently, I was really naive.

As of this blog post there have been 84 comments. Some of those are mine responding to other comments, but mostly they’re from other people. Even though I didn’t intend to stir up such a storm of controversy, I did, so now I’d like to clarify it a bit.

1. I did not mean my original post to be passive aggressive or condescending.

Even as recently as a few years ago I was uncomfortable with seeing two men kiss. It’s perfectly understandable. When I was a little kid I was uncomfortable with seeing a man and a woman kiss. It was something I didn’t understand back then and it was weird to me. As I got older I realized what kissing (heterosexual kissing) was and I discovered that I enjoyed it as well. Also, it was everywhere. Every TV show and movie for the most part showed it. And after being exposed so much to seeing people kiss I stopped being uncomfortable with it and started to accept it and even find it endearing.

It makes complete sense that someone who has not been exposed to seeing two men kiss would be uncomfortable by it. It’s different. It doesn’t jive with their personal experience. And even though it does occur on TV and movies more now than it ever has, it’s still not super commonplace.

That said, I believe that in the future it will be commonplace. I believe that homosexuality will be as prevalent on TV and movies as heterosexuality is now. I don’t think kids will be raised in a world where they never see two men kiss. But for right now, we live in an in-between stage. Twenty or thirty years ago, no one saw this type of stuff in the media. Twenty or thirty years in the future it will be commonplace. But for right now it only occurs rarely.

2. I’m not talking about morality, but about social acceptability.

Racism used to be open and blatant in the US. In his autobiography (Still Follin’ ‘Em) Billy Crystal says that when he was a freshman in college he tried to order a sandwich at a deli in Virginia and was told they would not serve him because he was Jewish. The deli owner knew because Billy Crystal had been wearing a Star of David necklace. The deli owner was not shy about the fact. In the story it sounds like he was proud of the fact that he would not serve a Jew in his store.

If that happened today, people would freak out and call it injustice.

Racism is by no means done in our country, but the argument for it is done. It’s not socially acceptable. Some people are still racist, but for the most part it’s only done behind closed doors and it’s done way less than it used to be. It’s my hope that the spirit of racism will continue to fade and eventually completely vanish, but regardless, I think we can all agree that it has definitely dwindled.

Is it moral to be racist? I don’t think so, but I’m not going to tell you what is moral. My morality is for me and me alone. That said, it’s empirically obvious that it’s not socially acceptable. And it’s not legal to discriminate based on race. You’re allowed to believe whatever you want, but because we’re all part of a society we have to live in the context of what is socially acceptable. You’re welcome to challenge that, but your challenge may be met with some harsh criticism.

I believe that challenging what is socially acceptable is sometimes a good thing. I don’t think women would have been given the right to vote so early had it not been for the efforts of some to challenge the societal norms. Sometimes challenging social acceptability leads to change. Other times it does not.

3. I am not talking about The Bible.

People have interpreted the Bible (and many other holy books) differently throughout history. In many classic works of art, certain old testament characters are portrayed with horns on their heads because someone misinterpreted a part of the Bible. In the Civil War era there were many people who justified slavery using the Bible. Most people I know in the modern era would say that those were misinterpretations. And they’re probably right, but my point is that I’m not arguing whether the Bible condemns homosexuality or not. That’s up to your interpretation as far as I’m concerned.

The point of my post in the first place was to show that if you’re uncomfortable with a gay kiss right now then you’re in the same camp as someone who was uncomfortable with an interracial kiss 47 years ago. Sure, it’s understandable, but it’s also going out of style. I hope that it doesn’t take 47 years, but I do believe that future generations will look at the very idea of being uncomfortable with homosexuality as a completely foreign concept. They’ll see it as antiquated as I see racism or the idea that women couldn’t vote in this country one-hundred years ago.

What I’m saying is that people in general won’t be uncomfortable with homosexuality nearly as much in the US in the future. And if you agree with me, then you have a choice. You can either be okay with being uncomfortable with it even though future generations will see that as odd or you can try to get over your discomfort and be okay with it. I chose to do the latter, because I saw nothing good coming from being uncomfortable. And I was able to work through that by exposing myself to it more and more.

Our brains are fascinating things. There are some parts of it that we can manipulate. And I’m glad I was able to get comfortable with homosexuality. But I genuinely understand that it’s difficult to do and some people aren’t going to want to even try. And that’s okay. The future’s coming whether we’re comfortable with it or not.

Thanks y’all!

Rich

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3 thoughts on “Racism, Homophobia, & Facebook Controversy

  1. Rich, thank you for the well thought out post. I agree that in the very near future, homosexual interactions will not be looked at by the majority of people in a negative way. However, I do not fully agree that the reason people will look at it and not feel awkward is because of familiarity or popularity. I certainly agree that will play a role, and even a large role. However, there are other large reasons as to why it will be more readily accepted.

    One reason is indoctrination. People will be taught that it is not unnatural, and so people will eventually accept that into their minds.

    One reason why I do not fully agree that homosexual activity will be accepted by the majority mainly due to familiarity is because there are plenty of displays of affairs on television and real life. I still feel uncomfortable when I watch any kind of affair on TV or even a scene that shows physical passion between any two unmarried people. Why? Not because I am unfamiliar with them, but because I think these acts are wrong. In other words, my morality causes me to have an uncomfortable feeling. So even though something is familiar to me, because I believe it to be wrong, I still have an uncomfortable feeling.

    Lastly, I do not believe homosexuality will be as accepted in the future as interracial relations are accepted now. Sure, there will be a gigantic swing to its acceptance in the general population and even among some “Christian” groups, but I do not believe it will go as far (at least, not for a much longer time). Why? Because at least in part while Scripture was indeed incorrectly used to condemn interracial relations, it was shown to be incorrectly used through time. Same thing for slavery. Homosexual acts are unabashedly condemned by the New Testament, so I think it will be much harder to justify to a sizable portion of society. The arguments used to support slavery or deny interracial interactions where incredibly weak biblically. In comparison, the argument from the LGBT community trying to use Scripture to justify homosexual acts is incredibly weak.

    Just think about evolution. How long has that been accepted by the majority of the general population? Yet, how much resistance is there still to it? (Not just from “religious” people by the way, but even from skeptical scientists.) So I do not think that familiarity is the only, or even main reason why it will be accepted eventually. I think the main reason will be indoctrination. (Granted, you did not say familiarity is the only or main reason homosexual acts will be accepted, but it is the only and main reason you give.)

  2. BTW, here are two polls. This one shows that approval of interracial marriage went from 4% in 1958 to 86% in 2013: http://www.gallup.com/poll/163697/approve-marriage-blacks-whites.aspx?utm_source=interracial%20marriage&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=tiles

    And this is a graph that shows how approval of homosexual marriage in the US is at an all time high of 55% and the trend in data leads us to conclude that it will continue to go up and up in the future: http://www.gallup.com/poll/169640/sex-marriage-support-reaches-new-high.aspx?utm_source=gay%20marriage&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=tiles

  3. Curtis, you make an excellent point. Familiarity in and of itself is not enough to sway opinions. We’re exposed to murder on TV way more than people were in the 1950s, but I don’t think murder is more accepted. Unfortunately, you’re probably correct that homosexuality will not be accepted as quickly or by as many as interracial relationships. I hope you’re wrong, but I can see why you may be correct. Thanks for your input.

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