Monday, February 27, 2012

An open letter to MTV Lebanon


Growing up, I had my fair share of bullying.

I was teased constantly, called a fag (or its French or Arabic equivalent), made fun of, etc.

I was once beaten up, not that badly, but it scared the shit out of me.

I spent one night in jail for some gay work I was doing.

I was “dick-slapped” twice (for some reason, “dick-slapping” was a big thing when I was growing up. It basically consists of a bunch of “straight” guys going up to a gay guy, holding him down, and slapping his face with their dicks.)

Thankfully, that kind of bullying has stopped for me.

But the bullying never stops.

It just takes on different forms.

There seems to be a trend nowadays where people dismiss the hardships that gay people (or minorities) go through, or at least dismiss the impact that some things may have on someone who is gay (or part of a minority).

What bothers me about this is the fact that these examples of blatant homophobia are always taken as isolated events, as opposed to positioning them within the greater, very troubling, forces that manage to continuously create a sense of fear, insecurity, hatred, and ignorance.

When a TV show decides to make fun of a man just for being feminine or gay, it’s bullying.

When people laugh at this TV show, it is bullying.

When people dismiss the concerns of activists that highlight the homophobia in such a show, it is bullying.

Every comment, post, tweet, joke, statement, status, or message addressing this TV show that fails to listen to the voices of gay people is bullying.

Every single one of these actions is responsible for the more damaging kind of bullying, similar to what I experienced when I was younger.

I’ve been discussing this issue all day with various people, and the comment I got the most was “Why can’t you take a joke?”

The answer to that is easy. A joke loses its humor when it takes advantage of someone’s weakened position. You don’t kick someone who is down. Every kick manages to keep them down longer. What may seem like an innocent joke to some actually reinforces the homophobia that is already rampant. When you put things into context, then you realize the impact of such actions.

I waited until I had calmed down before writing all of this. The video itself, and the discussions that it sparked have shocked me and angered me.

That anger was the result of bullying.

*****
A beautiful, beautiful, beautiful piece.

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