by Logan Lynn
As individuals in a marginalized group, we are often all placed
together into a single pot by society. In this case, I am referring to
the queer pot (but this happens around race, gender, age, religion,
class -- you name it). All of us, as members of the LGBT community,
with all our differences, have this one thing in common: we are the
minority. There is something about all of us that is unlike much of the
rest of the world, and much of the rest of the world's reaction to that
difference can be painful, isolating, and dangerous.
Frequently, members of the greater community become fixated on our
sexuality or gender expression, and they try to lump us together, assign
us roles within our designated letter of the acronym, and dehumanize us
in the process. One would hope this outer pressure would be enough to
bring us together as LGBT people, that we would unite and become
stronger in numbers and build a community so organized and powerful that
our being a minority no longer mattered. Sadly, this has not been my
experience as a man-loving man, nor in my work with gay organizations,
nor as an out artist in the entertainment industry.
Being a public figure
in the queer community is tough. You have to have pretty thick skin to
tolerate the external homophobia that comes at you as a result of
increased visibility, but I think I was raised to expect this, so it's
never a big shock when it happens. I know the world wants to see me
dead on some level, or at least see me stop being such a "goddamn fag,"
so it doesn't surprise me when that pressure arrives. I recognize it
coming a mile away and have learned methods of processing the external
hate in such a way that it no longer hurts me. I have not, however,
found or been able to develop a way of moving through the crab mentality
of my own community without injury.
For those of you who have not heard this saying before, "crab
mentality" (also known as "crabs in the barrel," or "crabs in the
bucket") refers to the metaphor of a pot of live crabs about to be
killed. Individually, the crabs could escape from the pot without any
trouble, but when they are all in the pot together, they grab at each
other in a pointless domination game that prevents any of them from
escaping, thus ensuring their collective demise. When related to human
behavior in social movements, the term is most commonly used in
association with a short-sighted, non-constructive approach instead of a
unified, long-term, productive mentality. As an openly gay musician, I
have experienced this problem mostly via the gay press. Certainly,
I've received my fair share of nasty emails and messages from people
online and in person over the 10-plus years I've been doing this, as
well, but there's a distinctive sting that comes from someone in the
queer media pulling me and my people back into the pot, and I believe
that action trickles down into our culture and leaks out into our
community consciousness from there.
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