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Dave Muscato is Vice President of MU SASHA. He is a vegetarian, LGBTQ ally, and human- & animal-welfare activist. A junior at Mizzou majoring in economics & anthropology and minoring in philosophy & Latin, Dave posts updates to the SASHA blog every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. His website is http://www.DaveMuscato.com.
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P.S. Today’s post is just making a point. A friend of mine posted a picture on her Facebook profile, of a lesbian couple hugging, with the caption, “Just a cute lesbian couple :3 nbd”. It’s received 29 likes in the past 19 hours.
I commented, “And on your right, you’ll notice a cute lesbian couple. Don’t tap on the glass, please. And on your left…” which received 5 likes.
The point I’m making is simply that I dream of the day when we can say, “Just a cute couple” without having to point out that they’re black, white, LGBTQ – or straight, for that matter.What difference does that make? Why even say it?
While I of course respect and care about my friend, and appreciate what she’s trying to do with her Facebook post, I think it’s not simply unnecessary, but disrespectful to draw attention to the fact that they’re gay.
When I was a teenager, I loved Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (my favorite series was always Captain Picard’s Star Trek: The Next Generation, but I had a big crush on Lieutenant Dax from DS9, too). In the DS9 series, one of the main characters, the commander of the station, Captain Sisko, is played by an actor named Avery Brooks.
Some years later, I heard an interview with the actor talking about how important it was for him to play the role of Captain Sisko on the series. He said that (I’m paraphrasing), as a black man, it was important to him that, in the 24th century, there were black officers in high-up positions, and that this was an opportunity for him to be an actor as well as be an advocate for social progress.
When I first heard that, my reaction was, “He’s black?” Then I thought, “I mean, yeah, of course he is. I just never thought about that before.”
It never actually occurred to me that Captain Sisko was a black captain. I had always simply thought of him as “captain.” Pointing out that he was “black” seemed to me – 9 years old when the series started – as… well, unnecessary, and weid. It seemed a random thing to draw attention to. Captain Sisko was also bald. He also liked baseball and seafood. It seemed about as arbitrary to me as the actor saying, “As a baseball fan, it was important that, in the future, there were baseball fans in high-up positions, and that this was an opportunity for me to be an actor as well as an advocate for baseball.”
Looking back on this now, I think about the fact that, in 1993 (when this series came out), it was really only about 25 years after the height of the civil-rights movement in this country. Avery Brooks – 45 at the time the series started – would have had clear memories as a 16-year-old of the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and as a 20-year-old of Nobel Peace Prize-winner Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination in 1968. It made a lot more sense to me why Brooks would have this attitude toward portraying a black Starfleet captain looking at things from this perspective. But as a 9-year-old unaware of all of that, it seemed normal and even insignificant that the actor was black. I just enjoyed watching him and the other characters be all bad-ass in the 24th century – curing plagues with science, exploring the far reaches of the galaxy, playing baseball in the holosuites, and learning about other cultures.
I guess what I’m saying is, I thought we were past pointing out things like whether someone is straight or not when saying whether they’re cute or not. But if it took 25+ years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act for people to get over that kind of thinking in terms of race, I suppose it’s wishful thinking that we’re going to get over this kind of thinking so quickly, considering that it’s only been 7 years since the first US state legally recognized same-sex marriage. Maybe it’s a generational thing… Maybe in 2060, when 45-year-olds who were born in 2015, who have no memory of a time before gay marriage was legal in all 50 states (let’s hope)… maybe they will think it’s weird when we point out cute couples with the qualifier that they’re gay. I hope it doesn’t take that long, but either way, I hope I’m around to see it 🙂
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