The cover of the current issue of Sports Illustrated apparently is a photo of three Boston police officers rushing to the aid of the runner who was knocked over by the shock wave of one of the explosions at the marathon. Pink News.co.uk, a website that specializes in news of interest to the LGBT communities, today had an article on this photo. Why? Because one of those three officers is openly gay. Can anyone explain to me what the officer’s sexual orientation has to do with this? When I look at the photo, all I see is three of Boston’s finest rushing to the aid of a citizen who was injured, therefore that the officer is gay is irrelevant to the photo or story.
Why does the press feel it necessary to bring up a person’s sexual preference unnecessarily? Doing so in the case of the Sports Illustrated cover did not advance the story in any meaningful way. Three officers doing their duty is what is shown in the photo. Nothing else need be said other than that they helped the runner to his feet, determined he wasn’t hurt and allowed him to finish the marathon.
There are also some instances where the sexuality of public figures is ignored by the press. Is that what happened with the Pink News item? It was “just a cop”, not anyone well-known, so it is okay to tell everyone he’s gay? Kathleen Wynne, the Premier of Ontario is openly lesbian. That fact has no bearing on her duties, so it is ignored. It also had no effect on the members of Liberal Party of Ontario, which chose her as their leader a couple of months ago. They simply voted for the person they felt was best suited for the job. Of course, considering the mess and scandals she inherited, they didn’t do her any favours.
Is there really any difference between the Boston police officer and Premier Wynne? In both cases, the people involved are civil servants just doing their jobs. Whether they are gay or lesbian is as relevant to news stories on them as would be what toppings they like on their pizzas.
Pray for the people of Boston.
Very well expressed, Cat!
I would really like to live in that world that you describe. However, in a world that still has a large amount of homophobia, it isn’t that simple. I am sure, whether you like to admit it or not, there were some in the Liberal party of Ontario who didn’t vote for Premier Wynne simply because she is a lesbian.. I am sure that there are people in the Liberal Party of Ontario that didn’t vote for her because she isn’t male as well.
In cases like Premier Wynne, it is important for people to have some understanding of the person’s sexual orientation, and the reason for this is, as I mentioned above homophobia. Children who identify in the LGBT communities face a great deal of bullying, self-doubt, shame, and abuse. Showing them that it is possible for them to be a cop or the premier or a successful business person is the responsible thing to do.
However, to out the cop in the photo from Boston is not something that I would recommend. Police departments are notorious for conservative atmosphere and there indoctrination of hegemonic masculinity. To out this cop in this situation shows him as a violator of that hegemonic ideal, which could open him up to isolation or discrimination in the force.
As I wrote in the posting, the officer is openly gay, so they didn’t out him, but that he is gay had no actually bearing on the story. As for Premier Wynne, of course there were some who voted for other candidates based on her sexuality, just as there were those who voted against her because of her gender. Either way, many more felt she was the best person for the position.
And yes, I am very aware of the homophobia and transphobia that exists in this world we inhabit because I am trans and face it frequently.
I would like to point out that you failed to address my main point, which was:
In a world as homophobic and transphobic as ours, people who choose to live their life out and open are preforming a subversive act. They are actively challenging the preconceived notions that people have and showing that those who don’t fit the hegemonic ideal aren’t doomed to live life in subservient and menial roles. To someone that is still struggling with their identity or the societal pressures around them, a story like this is relevant, and in some cases, desperately needed.
I am not going to play oppression Olympics with you, but I suggest you check your assumptions before you try to claim that I am speaking out of some cis or het privilege.