Monday, December 15, 2008

Enforcing heterosexuality

Two brothers were attacked, and one killed, when a SUV full of homophobes saw them walking arm in arm:

[Jose] Sucuzhanay (suh-KOO-chen-eye) and his brother Romel, 38, were walking arm-in-arm after a night out when a sport utility vehicle pulled up near them at a Brooklyn stoplight, police said.

Witnesses said they heard the men in the car shouting anti-gay and anti-Hispanic slurs at the brothers. The attackers jumped out of the car and smashed a beer bottle over Jose Sucuzhanay’s head, hit him in the head with an aluminum baseball bat and kicked him, police said. Romel Sucuzhanay was able to get away; the attackers drove off after he returned and said he had called police, authorities said.

Alas, A Blog comments:

This reminds me of stories my father tells of when he used to walk arm-in-arm with a blind friend of his, and people would shout epithets at them out of car windows.

Both of these would, of course, be equally reprehensible if they involved actual gay couples. (In my father’s case, I think the harassment would be much more reprehensible if it had involved an actual gay couple, because my father and his friend could laugh off the insults in a way that would have been more difficult if the insults had functioned, as intended, as a way of reinforcing second-class status based on sexual orientation.) However, situations like these do remind me of something else that strikes me as important: Occasionally, I see discussions cropping up about why many men in America often aren’t physically affectionate with their each other. Well. There you go. A man’s being physically affectionate with a brother, or a male friend, isn’t just a violation of taboos about showing femininity. It’s assuming a risk of harassment and violence.

The lives of gay men are more affected by this, of course, in shocking and horrible ways. But the enforcement of masculinity and heterosexuality is bad for many men, gay and straight.

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