Gay isn’t a free pass to harass

by Anthony Berteaux, Senior Staff Writer

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As San Diego State comes under scrutiny this year following the recent sexual assault audit, students have to rethink how to define sexual assault. For me, a self-identified gay male, the results of sexual assault audit seemed relative only to the heterosexual community. However, the more I think about it, the very idea of sexual assault could be found, surprisingly, in my relationships with my straight girlfriends.

“But I’m gay,” used to be an excuse I used on a daily basis when interacting with my female friends. When I would inappropriately touch my friends’ breasts, or call them “bitches” or “sluts,” I would immediately retort, “But I’m gay!” As if my sexuality was an excuse for openly sexually harassing my friends and disrespecting them.

In retrospect, I’ve not only been noticing this in my own relationships with other females, but also with other gay-male-straight-female relationships. Generally, I can see it in how gay males treat their peers. As much as straight females like to tokenize and accessorize us as their sassy, gay best friends, gay males do the same to objectify and disrespect to their straight counterparts.

Somewhere along the line, some gay men have fallen into this misogynistic routine of disrespecting, devaluing and objectifying females, while riding their sexualities to get away with it.

The matter of the fact is, gay males enjoy a privilege in regard to disrespecting females.”

I’ve become so accustomed to sneering about female anatomy, inappropriately touching my female friends and calling them “bitches” and “sluts,” I didn’t realize I’d been riding my sexuality to excuse this kind of misogynistic behavior.

What if I was straight? If a heterosexual male did these things, then a restraining order would be expected. It would be considered sexual assault.

Why has this become acceptable? Well, first off, our mainstream media culture has cultivated a superficial gay identity by writing off this misogyny against women as cute and sassy. Famed sitcom “Will & Grace,” one of the first major television sitcoms featuring gay characters as the main characters, had the gay characters consistently sneering at female anatomy and making fun of their bodies. However, this behavior was written off as hilarious because it’s supposedly part of a gay identity.

Infamous blogger Perez Hilton, who is openly gay, is constantly referring to pop stars and celebrities as divas, hoes, sluts and other disrespectful terms on his blog.

This gay misogyny was epitomized by the behavior of the Project Runway judge, Isaac Mizrahi, at the 2006 Golden Globes. Mizrahi was hired as an E! Red Carpet correspondent that night to interview celebrities.

However, on live television, Mizrahi acted completely inappropriately as he groped Scarlett Johansson’s breasts, asked Eva Longoria about her pubic hair and looked down Teri Hatcher’s dress. He proceeded to ask Charlize Theron about her Oscar winning role and asked what it was like to be a “scary dyke with bad teeth.”

While Teri Hatcher and most of the general public wrote off his behavior as hilarious because of his sexual identity, Johansson took a criticizing stance on his behavior.

“It was definitely in poor taste,” Johansson said in an interview with LATV. “I’ve been prepping for two hours and … someone who I’ve never met before fondles me for his own satisfaction.”

Media coverage of this incident also made sure, with no exceptions, to mention that Mizrahi was gay.

For those who have just come out as gay, how does one assimilate into a culture of Mizrahi’s and Hilton’s without becoming one? It makes sense that gay males would want to emulate this behavior. Because if it’s considered hilarious and allows for assimilation, then why not?

What we often forget to consider are the consequences. What it took for me was a friend who actually felt I crossed a boundary and confronted me about it. However, upon confronting me, people started to criticize her for not having a sense of humor and being too sensitive. It’s horrific to witness the type of victim blaming associated with the rape culture in the context of a straight-girl-gay-guy relationship.

For my gay friends, it’s time to draw a line.

“But I’m gay!” is no longer an appropriate excuse for lewd and inappropriate behavior. It’s juvenile and immature to reduce ourselves to our sexualities to avoid responsibility.

It’s destructive to our relationships, culture and community to reduce our identities only to our sexualities. It perpetrates this stereotype that all gay men are unruly characters who don’t abide by what’s socially acceptable.

It’s not about acting a certain way to fulfill a social norm. It’s about treating our female friends the way they should be treated: with respect. For a community that wants respect from society, we need to treat others with the same respect starting with our female friends. The eradication of our misogyny starts with the acceptance that it exists even with us.

Only then can we rise above the occasion and march toward equality and acceptance.

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