Cutting Words: Violence, Patriarchy, and Tracy Morgan

So Tracy Morgan hates gays and womyn, but I don’t want to demonize Tracy Morgan but I do want to have a dialogue.

Morgan recently joined the long and illustrious list of comedians, mostly men, who have decided to build their platform on hate. In a recent stand up act, Morgan went on what is being called a homophobic rant. An audience member reported the following:

“Mr. Morgan took it upon himself to mention about how he feels all this gay shit was crazy and that women are a gift from God and that “Born this Way” is bullshit, gay is a choice, and the reason he knows this is exactly because “God don’t make no mistakes” (referring to God not making someone gay cause that would be a mistake).

He said that there is no way a woman could love and have sexual desire for another woman, that’s just a woman pretending because she hates a fucking man.  He took time to visit the bullshit of this bullying stuff and informed us that the gays needed to quit being pussies and not be whining about something as insignificant as bullying.

He mentioned that gay was something kids learn from the media and programming, and that bullied kids should just bust some ass and beat those other little fuckers that bully them, not whine about it.  He said if his son that was gay he better come home and talk to him like a man and not [he mimicked a gay, high pitched voice] or he would pull out a knife and stab that little N (one word I refuse to use) to death.”

http://unicornbooty.com/2011/06/tracy-morgan-threatens-to-kill-his-son-if-gay-during-homophobic-tirade-onstage/

What saddens me most about this is not that Tracy, as an individual, stated the following but that it is a sentiment shared by many people. In a culture dominated by the male principle and guarded identities around “manhood”, men loving men becomes an act of high treason to the gender. The violence, of Morgan’s language and imagery serves as a sensory sweep, destabilizing me to the core. We exist in a world of suffering, all of which is important to observe, and the plight of queer youth is not something to be made fun of.

Last summer we saw the media give greater attention to the gay youth suicides and for a moment we saw this narrative in an unbiased light. For many young people who discover and begin to express their queer identities life becomes nothing but running in the streets screaming to be heard, covering your face as fist fly, or learning that no matter how much blanket you put on cement it is still cement, not a bed. Gay teens are thrown out of their homes, met with violence, and often times become sex workers as a means of coping with their crumbling existence.

Morgan’s “joke” about stabbing his son if he found out he was gay is not far from the truth lest we forget boys like Jason Mattison, who was raped, and stabbed repeatedly by a family friend and found in his aunt’s closet. It is not far from the truth when we talk about Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado who was decapitated, dismembered and burned to death. It is not far from the truth nor is it funny. And for those who would claim that Morgan’s words reflect a personal bias and not a societal problem, which is sanctioned by the state, I’d like to bring The New Jersey 4 back into the picture. Queers and womyn who seek to take their power back and fight against the violence of the society are often met with more violence from the state. Anyone remember Duanna Johnson? The trans-womyn who was beat senseless by the police upon being brought in the station.

My point in bringing up this small list of people, who have never found the end of their rainbows, is to illustrate that the society hates queers, no matter how much we see them on TV or enter into the upper echelons of the state and Morgan brings that to the forefront. It is a violence that is centered in patriarchal thought and plays out again and again and again.

This is not merely an issue of sensitivity- my abundance of it and his lack of it – this is about putting this issue in proper context. In a culture that centers itself in male dominance, thoughts like this aren’t blips on the radar; they are the radio waves that make up the radar system. Morgan also went on to a sexist tangent, blaming womyn for many of societies problems.

I think this underscores the connection between homophobia and sexist violence against womyn. Patriarchy is a system and thought that hates anything gendered feminine -seeks to degrade and subordinate it. Patriarchy is a system and thought that, though gender socialization, creates semi formed people, unable to access the whole range of human emotion.

I have hope though. Revolutionary seeds are being sewn everyday in every part of life. The other day I sat in a park and watched some young boys play football. One boy was aggressively tackled and began to cry. In less time than it took to tackle the boy, the others surrounded and began to ostracize the fallen one. One of the male chaperones came over and, to my surprise, took up for the young man’s tears. He told the group about his time in jail and his life after that and how tears are something normal in the human experience and not a sign of weakness. The masterstroke of the mini-lecture came when the chaperone told them that if Black men cried more in public a lot of our problems would be easier to solve.

What does this mean? Does it mean Black men’s tears hold some kind of magic? No, not at all. Not literally anyway. He meant that the ways in which men, Black men in this situation, have been socialized are damaging to us as human beings because we are being raised with a huge dissonance between our social selves and our emotional selves. We are being raised as half formed human beings and as a result we see that repression manifest in unhealthy ways; domestic violence, sexism, stress, mental wellness issues, etc . . .

I think that a lot of work has yet to be done and that Morgan’s quotes illuminate that. But I also think that we are capable of doing it. Here’s to a future of organizing and love. May all of our coals turn to diamonds.

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