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The following program is brought to you in part by a special grant from the friends of channel 21 incorporated. [music]
Gay people have long been America's invisible minority. But all of that is beginning to change. In the next half hour we will be exploring some of the responses people are making to the discrimination and hostility they have faced in society. We will also look at some homosexuals who have come out, openly accepting and affirming their sexual orientation to themselves and to others. In one way or another the gay response promises to affect us all gay or straight. The present challenge to traditional sexual roles and stereotypes is likely to have wide repercussions. I have a great difficulty in making any sort of integration between my musical self. myself as the artist, and myself as a lesbian trying to relate socially politically and personally with the lesbian community. It's very difficult for me. And I have to daily think about it. Talk to people.
Which is also difficult because I do not know any other woman who is in this music school and this institution where I have been where I have been for like 6 years who can talk with me about perhaps a more advanced level what it is like to be a lesbian political feminist woman who is also a singer who is a musician, an artist. I'm a newspaperman by trade. I'm interested in the world and I'm interested in events and I spent my days spent with reviewing the events that are unfolding. A lot of it's bad news and a lot of it's good news. My own life has its share of bad news and good news but coming out has meant more good news than bad for me. At work my sexuality really doesn't come into play. I have a lot of time to um I spend a lot of time in close contact with a number a great number of people. It involves a lot of diplomacy. And I think they love me for who I am. I think my sense of humor shows more than my
sexuality at work and I think that I relate to being my own gayness much the way I relate to my sense of humor that it's something that colors the way I live and that's a part of me that I love a lot. The new openness is perhaps the gay rights movement's most important achievement to date. But gay people have always been around even when they've been less visible. In the historical evidence and in the anthropological evidence of simple societies we find a ubiquitous quality about homosexual experience. We know that a number of historical figures have been gay. Although the list is certainly much shorter than it should be. Part of the problem is that to achieve recognition many gay people have felt the need to disguise their sexuality. But whether acknowledged or not gay men and women have contributed prominently to politics literature the arts and even professional sports. We're dealing with a variety of human experience which has not despite a great deal of
oppression and a great deal of restriction either disappeared or simply gone underground. Homosexuality may not have gone completely underground but in the media it has been either hidden or distorted. Early Hollywood films such as Office Wife made use of sexual role reversals or inversion for comic effect while the sexual orientation of the rather manly woman in this film was left vague the resulting impression was to confirm gay stereotypes. For homosexuality was widely and wrongly believed to be a case of role reversal. [movie clip] [movie clip dialogue] Of course the same kinds of comic role reversals and stereotypes were used with men. [movie clip dialogue] [movie clip dialogue]
[movie clip dialogue] [movie clip dialogue] Homosexuals have also been exploited in porno erotic books aimed at straight men. These books often portray a totally unrealistic lesbian couple. The reader is sexually aroused because he can fantasize himself as the savior who arrives to make a real woman out of one of the two. This oppressive attitude is possible because many men falsely and fearfully believe that a sexual and emotional involvement between women is incomplete unless a man is involved. Positive portrayals of gay people have begun to appear most recently under mounting pressure from the gay community. While stereotypes are still common more realistic gay characters are also appearing. One film A Very Natural Thing is not typical of recent Hollywood efforts. It is both a low budget and limited distribution film. But its frank celebration of gay love makes it a landmark.
[movie clip dialogue] [movie clip dialogue] [movie clip dialogue] A group of Madison gay people discuss how the issues raised in this program affect their lives. One thing that's really important is having to go and look for role models having to go and find out and looking in books and watching movies and having immediate reaction that well I'm not like that. Is it really like that. Do I really have to be like that to be a homosexual. Yes. Um well geez how am I going to decide if I'm butch or fem. With the lack of information and all you have is some negative
feedback some stereotypes from the general public or bathroom remarks. You get the idea that while you simply can't be that way because you know you're not sick and you know you know that you're not a monster. And yet these people are so therefore you must not be gay. And so like you withdraw back into the closet. You know it's enormously important for people who are just beginning to realize their sexual orientation to have a support group of real live people not [unclear] stereotypes to give them an idea both of the variety of the gay experience you know just as varied as the straight experience. If the challenge to stereotypes is a dominant theme of the gay response an equally important theme has been that gay is good not sinful. The Christian and Jewish faiths generally view homosexual practice as a sin condemned in the
Bible. But many gay people have left the church as a consequence. Others as represented by this interdenominational gay service in Chicago have organized to change their church's stance on homosexuality. They are opposed by fundamentalist ministers like Reverend Warren Heckman of Madison Wisconsin who offers guidance toward a more normal sexual lifestyle. So consequently I would like to be like Jesus Christ in reaching out with love and concern to my fellow man whether they might be a thief whether they might be someone who has been in prison whether they might be someone who is homosexual. Homosexuality in the first place is as morally neutral a state as is heterosexuality. Regardless of the ways in which psychiatrists have been confused and divided about the subject of homosexuality they now certainly believe that homosexuality is experienced by
homosexual persons as a given. Psychologically and morally. Homosexuality can therefore in no way be compared to specific acts of sin. I guess probably my opinion and my conviction with regard to homosexuality is strictly from the Bible. For example in First Corinthians 6 verses 9 through 12 the Apostle Paul wrote there to the Corinthian church. Let me just skim through a few of these phrases. He speaks there saying that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God. We are not to be deceived neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy or drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. The Bible can be used to prove just about anything you want to prove. The fact is that the scriptures have been badly misused as well as mistranslated and the
whole process of interpreting the scripture throughout history with regard to homosexuals and homosexuality is the is probably the worst abuse of scriptures. [Harvey Goldberg speaking] In the Bible we find instances in the relationship whether to say of Ruth and Naomi which give off very strong indications of a lesbian love. In the experience of David and Jonathan in the book of Samuel. We find strong indications once again of a homosexual experience. And even when the Bible condemned Saddam, Saddam was not considered reprehensible because of a sexual aberration. For instance the Sodom story is now seen by most biblical scholars for what it was intended to be. That is a story about inhospitality. In fact indeed therefore the church, the churches who reject the homosexual are probably guilty of the sin of Sodom. Since they are
evicting the stranger and abusing the stranger. I think it's perfectly clear that in the writings of the early church fathers and in the earliest Christian texts homosexuality was strongly condemned. But you must remember that all sexual activity outside of the most restricted kind within the framework of a marriage was condemned. You're talking about a religion which in its roots is basically anti-sexual and which has always suspected pleasures that could not be circumscribed within the framework of a religious life as it was defined by the by the early Christians. I think it's important to point out that in other religious experiences in the Islamic for example we find no such hostility. The Qur'an says nothing that is
hostile about homosexuality nor do we find it in Confucianism in China. The history of the homosexuals rejection by the church has in recent years sparked collective action by gay ministers and parishioners. They seek both an acknowledgement of the gay lifestyle as morally sound and of their rights to equal treatment in the church. The Chicago consortium of gay ministers includes representatives for most of the national gay church groups. The largest groups are Integrity a group within the Episcopal Church and a group called Dignity in the Catholic Church. Other gay groups such as the Presbyterian gay Caucus are increasingly active. The various gay religious groups in this country began to emerge around 1968 on the West Coast. And at first they were small. Didn't seem to attract much attention but within the past seven years they have grown until they have become perhaps one of the
major aspects of the gay movement as a whole. Non-gay people have related to our caucus and many of them have had to be as careful as the gay people do in identifying their affiliation because of the tremendous homophobia in the church and the tremendous fear that which is a very real fear that their positions within the church will be jeopardized. I suppose if I were going to summarize the purpose of these groups you know word it would be to say that here you have a group of Christians who despite all of the persecution leveled at them by the church over the centuries have chosen to stay. And why have they chosen to stay. I think it's because they've decided to take the Gospel seriously in all its fullness
and especially they have decided to take seriously the idea that the Gospel is universal. That it extends to all women and all men. And that any attempt to put a limit on that is really an attempt to put a limit on the grace of God for His people. I find it difficult to walk into a church and feel at home. Because because of the whole because of all these pronouncements that come out. I feel very ill at ease even though I have realized that my Christian upbringing had a lot has had a lot to do with shaping some of my basic moral values. I find it interesting that the that the church is [unclear] mostly we're talking about the fundamentalist Christian churches. Their they seem to be the most vociferous on the issue of homosexuality. And the least informed. Well. Informed is one thing theology is another you know. All the information they need is that
there is a homosexual you know. Yes. And then and then they turn to Leviticus and it's always been interesting to me that these Christian churches would rely so heavily on the wrathful Old Testament chapters and pretty much ignore the whole doctrine of love that comes across fairly strongly in the New Testament. I can't be kind to the church on any ground mainly because the ethic of love whether using the Old Testament or the New Testament to measure it has often been interpreted as you would love somebody sufficient that you can change them so they can be happy. And this is how I most often see the church interpreting love toward the homosexual. And what I think of constantly when I think of the church and homosexuality is guilt. Is making people guilty and unhappy and miserable. Putting homosexuality into the sphere of morality which is in which
it does not belong. The church is saying traditionally at any rate is saying you have to choose between being a Christian and acting on your sexual orientation which is which is like saying I have to choose between being a Christian and being five feet six inches tall. The advent of psychology as a respected discipline might have countered religious dogma on homosexuality. But instead the new behavioral scientists accepted the stereotypes and reinforced sin with sickness. Recently however psychiatrists and psychologists have re-examined their view of homosexuality. The American Psychiatric Association has a significant role in defining mental disorders. One of those mental disorders in the past has been defined as homosexuality. This underwent some study a few years ago and as a result of that study a committee of the American Psychiatric Association recommended
that homosexuality itself be dropped as an official diagnosis. The social stigma that continues to accompany a homosexual orientation results in many persons concealing their personal preference as a result of probably no study anywhere really accurately captures the number of persons. It is clear that it is a sizable minority. The estimates at times have been as high as 10 percent. The official positions of psychiatry and psychology have changed recently. But many gay people are still reluctant to seek counseling from straight psychiatrists because of their reputation for treating homosexuality as an illness. A number of alternative counseling and social service referral centers have sprung up around the country to serve the gay community. Madison Wisconsin has several staffed mainly by gay people themselves. Lesbian switchboard is one such center. You know we don't put any heavy trips on anybody. We don't
We give a lot of support to the lesbians in the community. I would say when somebody comes in here and has questions about lesbianism we try to be real non-bias we try to be real informative. We try to let them talk it out and for them to kind of come to some decisions and what is what is that they're trying to find out. What are they identifying with. Where are these fears coming from. How can we help them with those fears. We are not politically... I mean we do not advocate lesbianism. We're here to help the people who do come to have questions. Madison's gay center like the lesbian switchboard provides counseling and related services but to a predominantly gay male clientele. A lot of straight counselors are afraid of gay people. They think gay people are strange and different and I think that they have unusual sorts of problems or that homosexuality is the problem
and a gay person can come here and talk to other gay people who are very accustomed to the idea of being gay and say look I've got this problem with my life that may or may not be associated with sexuality. And I want to talk about it. And I'm perfectly comfortable saying to a client look is your sexuality any problem to you. And if the person says no I say great that's good to hear. What's the problem. And very often though not always straight counselors are less willing to do that. Madison's Moon Tree counseling center serves both gay and straight women. But once more the key ingredient for gay clients is support. One reason a lesbian is more likely to come to the moon tree than go to an MD or a Ph.D. therapist is I think still traditional therapists take the orientation toward
lesbians or homosexuals in general. But there is something wrong or askew when it comes to their sexuality. And I don't believe that. That sexuality is something that all human beings want to integrate more into their lives. And for some reason our culture does not encourage that. So when a woman a lesbian comes generally she's fairly comfortable with her sexuality. The impact of supportive gay counseling along with psychiatry's new acceptance of homosexuality means that for a growing number of gay people psychological oppression need not be as crushing as it once was. I think it is an important thing in the history of social movements that homosexuals have begun to organize themselves and to make their demands to make their demands for legal equality to be sure but also to insist that the very culture
that generates homosexuality that is the desire for example perhaps to live differently not necessarily inscribed within the framework of a traditional family existence of that that may not be so bizarre that it may not be so heinous that all of that means that homosexuals I think for the first time have begun to come out of that kind of a self-effacement and that kind of tremendous self-contempt which has enabled them to at least present a program to organize for a program to say that they have not only a right to live as they choose to live but that they have something to offer in a society. For a long time independent standard of personal adjustment has been heterosexuality. And that without any without without not some independent measure against which gay people and straight people might do relatively good or you know better or worse
when compared. They have simply been comparing US automatically to a standard of how heterosexuality as the norm. The reason for that automatic comparison to a heterosexual standard seems to me that since homosexuality was closeted was hidden your average shrink did not know homosexuals as anything other than patients. If you were to come up with a theory of heterosexuality based on the population of people who went to see shrinks you know I think I could think you could make a pretty good case for heterosexuality being...[interupted]. The most tangible aspects of the gay response are the proposed changes in the laws. The consenting adult laws are aimed at legalizing the private sex lives of gay people and removing the major rationale for discrimination in employment and housing. In 18 states indicated here in the shaded area oppressive sex laws
have been repealed. About 40 cities and counties have also passed nondiscrimination ordinances. But in the remaining states gay people can still be legally barred from an enormous number of unrelated jobs that require what is described as good moral character. The list is long and varies from state to state. These are but a few. Attorney Carla Dubinsky speaks about the problem. I think some of the most common legal problems that gay people face are related to common things like jobs and housing. Another problem for women and for some men would be child custody if a person's gay. There's still some feeling in the country generally that that fact in itself means a person is an unfit parent you know which obviously isn't true and that's changing but it still is a problem. One of the major problems though is the fact that the relationships aren't recognized. So when someone dies if they haven't had a will and a very clear strong will their property won't pass on to the person who was most likely to receive it. Things like visitation in jails and
hospitals when someone's in trouble is curtailed because of the unrecognized relationship. There's a there is a vicious circle. There are people who say homosexuality because of the Bible because of religion because I don't like it is immoral. Therefore we're going to put laws on the books against it and those laws reinforce the next generation saying well if there's laws against that it must be wrong. In Wisconsin where repressive sex laws are still on the books gay people have been lobbying for change. Representative David Clarenbach among others has introduced consenting adult legislation with the backing of the gay community. I'll be introducing this legislation this session because there is sexual oppressive laws on our books in Wisconsin. I think our society generally is very hung up about sex and those laws reflect those hang ups. I think it's high time the legislature started dealing with the realities of the situation that people are having sex against the state laws. And as a result the state laws ought to be changed.
[John Gower] I really don't believe that legislation anymore is is so is a legal question so much as it really is a political question. The real issue in my estimation in terms of its passage is whether it is whether the majority of our citizens are willing to accept homosexual as well as heterosexual freedom. I don't perceive that the vast majority of our citizens to say I don't perceive that even a minority of our citizens are prepared to still accept it. I think that the best argument that can be made to comfort those legislators that aren't comfortable with supporting this legislation is simply that it is a matter of individual rights that government does not have a right to intrude into your bedroom and tell you what you can and can't do in the privacy of your own home and I think that's the most useful argument that can be made. A lot of my friends who are in the closet think think that it would be they lose a lot of their security by coming out. Well I think they gain a great deal of security because you
know how you're how you're going to react to situations. There's no there's no having to think twice about it. In any event there's there's more there's more social space that way and things become easy after awhile. It's funny because for me it was a little different coming from a really different culture. After telling my male friends they kept on insisting that I wasn't really homosexual that it was some sort of a phase that I was going through and they would always say things to me like you know when a woman went by: look at that woman and you know. And you said: why? When I finally have come out it's it's like I can really worry about the things in life that I think are really worth worrying about Freedom to worry. Freeing of energy. That's what it means to me. And really a whole lot of how people react to you depends on how comfortable you are with yourself.
I found you know so that if I'm really comfortable with being gay people aren't apt to get so freaked by it. The preceding program was brought to you in part by a special grant from the friends of channel
Tryout TV
The Gay response
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