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Thursday, March 15, 2012

(MY view) Crabs in the Barrel: The Problem with the Gay Press!

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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