Jonathan Zimmerman has an interesting column in the Christian Science Monitor about the recent gay teen suicides discussing how homophobia hurts straight boys:
And we've known about this problem for a long time. In the early 1980s, observing hundreds of elementary-school boys, sociologists Barrie Thorne and Zella Luria noticed that kindergarteners and first-graders hugged, joined arms, and held hands. But by fifth grade, boys had forsaken these customs in favor of mock violence - poking, pushing, and shoving - or ritual gestures like high-fives.
Why? As they got closer to puberty, the boys began to use homophobic epithets - homo, queer, and especially fag - to demean each other. So they couldn't risk bringing those labels onto themselves. "As 'fag' talk increases, relaxed and cuddling patterns of touch decrease," Thorne and Luria wrote. "The tough surface of boys' friendships is no longer like the gentle touching of girls."
And it's not just physical intimacy that decreases, of course. Other scholars watched teenaged boys at the movies, where they often sat apart even if they came in together. Most of all, they avoided showing their emotions to each other. Even at a tear-jerk movie, it seems, boys aren't supposed to cry. That's "gay," too.
That's violence of a sort. Straight men actually do like each other and being forced to express intimacy in the form of violence forces a part of their humanity to die. It seems directly related to the rise of suburbia and exurbia, where families live further and further apart, where the only people adults interact with are their families and co-workers, but only in a work-related setting.
It makes me wonder about the barriers that we set up between ourselves, as queer people, and others when it comes to politics. We have our little issues, and they're about us, and within those contexts there are victims and enemies and the enemies hurt the victims and everything's very clean and simple. It's reductionist because there's no way that someone can hurt another person without hurting themselves, no way a group of people can decide that certain behavior is off-limits for others without limiting their own potential as well.
Bullies were often once bullied themselves, and our battle scars from youth and adulthood as victims of bullying often lead us as LGBT people to bully one another or people we see as potential threats. On the other side, anti-gay bullies who are straight are bullying parts of themselves at the same time, parts they label as gay and feminine or lesbianic and masculine. That's the thing about violence: it always creates more violence because victims become defensive and it always hurts the attacker because people are not naturally violent towards one another, but they do have other natural motivations (greed, conformism, power, fear) that make them think violence would serve them.
Anyway, I just went to Morocco last week, a country where homosexuality is officially illegal, and, as other people who've been to parts of Africa or the Middle East can testify to, I saw lots more same-sex hand-holding and touching than I saw opposite-sex affection in public. Even when I was in southern Italy last year I saw more same-sex affection than I would in the US.
Straight guys aren't naturally the way they are in America; it's artifice and part of their inherently social nature has to be tamed in order to conform.