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Racial Passing

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Topics: Homosexuality
Racial passing was a common phenomenon in the early 20th century. With the onset of Jim Crow laws and unbridled racism, it seemed advantageous to some to forgo their racial identity for something more favorable. This particular notion of passing is most prevalent; however, the definition need not be so narrow. Passing is defined as “a deception that enables a person to adopt certain roles or identities from which he would be barred by prevailing social standards in the absence of his misleading conduct” (Kennedy). While instances of racial passing today are scarce, “passing” in terms of sexuality is still prevalent. Many of the same prejudices black, Native American and interracial couples/individuals once experienced are now being directed towards homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgendered. The parallels between the two situations are many, but will be discussed in detail in terms of lynching and family planning.
Defined by Ralph Ellision, lynching is “a ritual drama that was usually enacted ... in an atmosphere of high excitement and led by a masked celebrant dressed in a garish costume who manipulated the numinous objects (lynch ropes, the American flag, shotgun, gasoline and whiskey jugs) associated with the rite as he inspired and instructed the actors in their gory task." (Callahan). Ellison goes on to say “"the ultimate goal of lynchers…is that of achieving ritual purification through destroying the lynchers' identification with the basic humanity of their victims”. While lynching may seem to be a thing of the past, its atrocities are all but over. While a hanging after the beatings are no longer commonplace, brutal beatings of homosexuals still happen. In 2007 in Detroit, a disabled elderly man named Andrew Anthos was followed from the bus and brutally beaten and left for dead (Towleroad). Apparently, the attacker was offended at Anthos’s persistence in singing while aboard the bus. He was beaten with a pipe and paralyzed from the neck down and fell into a coma before he died days later. Another notable example is Matthew Shepard, a teenage homosexual boy who pistol whipped, tortured, and left to die while hung on a fence. While there is much controversy surrounding this event, it is undoubtable that Shapard’s being hung on a fence was very reminiscent of traditional lynchings, indicating a want for the body to be displayed. This event changed the face of anti-hate crime efforts and brought to light the severity of anti-gay hate crimes around the country. Homosexuals are also frequently prejudiced against in terms of their abilities to raise children. It is undoubtedly harder for a homosexual couple to adopt a child; but why? Most studies show that there is not a considerable difference in gay and straight couples’ ability to raise a family. Lisa Belkin in the New York Times Magazine stated “Yes, if less conventional, more tolerant children are your goal. Because if the children of gays and lesbians are different, it is presumably related to the way they were raised — by parents with a view of domestic roles that differs from most of their heterosexual peers. Same-sex couples, it seems, are less likely to impose certain gender-based expectations on their children.” (Grohol) Grohol goes on to explain that often, children of homosexual couples tend to be more tolerant of others and have expanded options of what life/career choices they’d like to make, since traditional gender-specific roles such as housewife and bread-winning husband simply aren’t in their arsenal of knowledge. Regardless, there is no sufficient knowledge to support the idea that homosexuals cannot raise a child. Grohol also points out that “good” parenting is subjective, and often many heterosexual couples are not “consistently” good parents. In addition, evidence suggests that children of gay parents are equally as successful on test scores and most social conventions. Typically when they are younger, these children may experience discrimination among their peers. Grohol suggests that a way around that could be to have open dialogue with your children, appropriate to their age. While the actual ability to raise children is not different, that does not mean discrimination is not present, and it is important for children to be able to combat such prejudices when they confront them. According to the American Academy of Child & Development Psychiatry, Are not more likely to be gay than children with heterosexual parents, are not more likely to be sexually abused and do not show differences in whether they think of themselves as male or female (gender identity). There are many struggles of the homosexuyal community, most notable combatting stereotypes to pursue the opportunity to wed their loved ones. Very similarly to anti-interracial laws in the 20th century, the laws are beginning to come to light as unfair; just a few days ago, President Barack Obama declared Proposition 8, the proposition to ban gay marriage, as unconstitutional. While racism continues to exist, as we are sure homophobia will, the two seemingly unrelated topics have more parallels than differences and it is reasonable to presume that anti-homosexual behavior will take a similar track to that of racism.

Bibliography: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/11/09/children-of-gay-parents/ http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1880467,00.html http://aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/children_with_lesbian_gay_bisexual_and_transgender_parents http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/g_l/lynching/lynching.htm http://www.cknnigeria.com/2013/01/three-gays-lynched-in-imo-state.html http://www.gaychurch.org/gay_and_christian_yes/a_letter_to_louise/2_letter_the_homosexuals_suffering.htm http://www.sfponline.org/Uploads/372/AScholarExplainsthePhenomenonofPassing.pdf http://www.towleroad.com/2007/02/gay_senior_citi_1.html

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