Jun. 6th, 2010

With Boston Pride coming up next week, the issue of “pride” and being out is on my mind of late.

One reason why civil rights for sexual minorities—from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and marriage rights—are so very important at this time is because of the demolition of the closet. It’s not just a matter of how living your life in the closet is unhealthy (and it is), it soon may not even be a viable option.

The spread of social networking, issues surrounding online privacy, and studies like “Project Gaydar” at MIT are demonstrating that the conservative idea that minority sexual orientation is something that should remain “private” (i.e., should not be revealed or talked about in the public sphere) is built on a rapidly erroding foundation. It used to be relatively easy to compartmentalize and keep different aspects of one’s life separate. You could have a circle of gay friends and family and a circle of straight friends and family, for example, even live two (or more) different lives. But what happens when they all share your online friends list and “meet” in the virtual space of places like Facebook?

Sure, you might not have a Facebook account but, as the MIT study reveals, even sharing your photos on Flickr or your playlists on iTunes may tip your hand in terms of aspects of your life you think are private, from your sexual orientation to your political affiliation, your hobbies, or your spiritual beliefs. As more and more communication and life in general moves into the vastly distributed network on the Internet, it becomes harder and harder to cut one’s self off from it. “Privacy” may come at the price of being a virtual hermit (so to speak). Even now, not having an email address is as big an anachronism as not having a telephone number. Soon, not having an online identity may well be the same, and that raises questions about the management of said identity.

If you think maintaining the lie of living in the closet was hard before, just imagine it multiplied by a hundred or a thousand; maintaining not only constant vigilance over your own behavior, but also over the behavior of everyone you know, all in real time. The closet is a rapidly shrinking box, more and more uncomfortable to live in than ever. Gay pride and gay rights issues are going to come to a decision point because the default position of the opposition (go back to being invisible so we don’t have to deal with you) is very soon not even going to be a real option (in as much as it ever was). When there’s nowhere to retreat, nowhere to hide, then you have no choice but to fight.

Or, as the gay civil rights chant goes: “We’re here, we’re queer ... get used to it!”

The trends of history and technology say you may have no other choice.



July 2011

345 6789
101112 13141516
1718 1920212223
242526 27282930

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Oct. 21st, 2017 12:18 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios