Author: Melissa L. Manzello

Melissa Manzello and Lizzie Gleeson

In the chapter “A Tale of Three Coming Out Stories,” Roxane Gay iterates the importance of well known public figures coming out to the world in order to help advocate for gay rights. For example, Gay states, ” Still, prominent gay people need to stand up and be counted because the word “gay” is still used as a slur,” (p.165).  Gay states this to point out that these celebrities need to share their private lives to help improve the environment surrounding homosexuality, and she uses the reasoning of the existence of slurs still to demonstrate that there are issues that remain unresolved and celebrities have the platform to accelerate change in this sense. Gay’s use of the phrase” be counted” pushes the idea that more people standing behind change the greater the movement becomes. Also, the idea of continued sharing leads back to Gay’s argument that all people need to stand up and be apart of the change, but that the advancement of acceptance is fueled by figures that have a public following.

The Unfair Part of Living a Public Life

In “A Tale of Three Coming Out Stories” Roxane Gay delves into the issues that celebrities face when trying to live a private life in the public eye. Gay specifically explores the task that society places on public figures to pave the way for change, in this piece she discusses the role of certain public figures that have made their private lives public to support homosexuality. Gay contrasts and compares the ability for certain celebrities to “come out” and the ease or risk that came with their decision to disclose their sexuality to the world.

Gay speaks about Anderson Cooper and how he made a statement when he came out about being able to make a statement and “be counted” (p. 163). When Cooper released his statement about being gay he acknowledged that although he would prefer to keep his private life private, he also thought there was a significant value in his “coming out” to the world because he, as a public figure, could progress this world (p.163). Gay then talks about how for someone like Cooper to come out is good and progressive for society, but he does fit into a label of the “perfect gay” and how that label needs to disappear because it makes it harder for some people to be themselves if they don’t fit into that label. I fully agree with Gay in this sense because not just a specific person deserves to be able to disclose their sexuality and have it be aceptable. Everyone deserves the same respect and to be “counted” in the same way someone like Cooper was.

Gay also talks about Frank Ocean and how for him in the R&B/ hip-hop industry it was much riskier to “come out”. Gay talks about how not only did his race but also his industry posed a more challenging process than for someone that wasn’t African American or in the “homophobic R&B and hip hop community”(p.167). Although Frank Ocean did receive very public support from many other artists and his friends the issue is still that many of his friends use homophobic slurs in their work with no regard for how it may make homosexuals feel or how wrong it is, simply because they can say it doesn’t offend their homosexual friends.This is a stigma I feel needs to be changed in our society for sure.

You Must Be Lonely If You’re Not Married

Cobb’s piece in response to Justice Kennedy’s comments stated throughout the case of Obergefell v. Hodges enlightens people to just how lonely he and any other single person feel since they are not married according to Justice Kennedy.

Throughout the piece, Cobb delves into how he is a very happy and dignified single person, yet just because he is single he may not receive the same respect that married individuals receive. Whether it be his grandmother or the general opinion of the 49.8% of married people that send pity his way because he is not married, Cobb takes great offense to the notion that he cannot be seen as happy just because he isn’t married.  Marriage does not signify happiness or a successful lifestyle for everyone and while for some it does for most marriage, if they are married, is an additional piece of pleasure in their lives. Also, many who aren’t married are living very successful and happy lives, but in this piece, the comments made signify that living as a single person one cannot simply be happy because they are not reaching the most profound thing in a human’s life.

This piece opened my eyes to how odd it is that the government is so obsessive over marriage, especially when Cobb spoke about Senator Lindsey Graham. The fact that a presidential candidate or senator would be purely questioned over the fact he doesn’t have a person waiting to fill the role of the first lady is ridiculous. It is almost as if the assumption would be that something is wrong with him because he isn’t married, or how could he possibly fit a political role if he can’t find a wife.

All these ideals diminish the mere fact that married or not every person is just as much human as another, and that every person experiences love and care in many different ways. The love and care single people experience for another human should not be diminished simply because they are not having sex with that person.

The Repressive and Negative Aura Surrounding Sex

Foucault’s introduction to “The History of Sexuality” focuses on the repression of sex and sexuality from the Victorian era to modern day. Foucault emphasizes throughout his introduction that with the start of the 18th century sex moved into the most intimate and secret parts of a household and became solely used for reproduction. He sheds light on how repressive the culture became by referencing the frank and open nature of the 17th century while contrasting that time with references to sex only being accepted in “the brothel and the mental hospital” during the 18th century.

Foucault also uses the introduction to pose interesting questions, for example, “By what spiral did we come to affirm that sex is negated?” or “… ask why sex was associated with sin for such a long time?” By asking these questions he does acknowledge that today people seem to recognize the negative undertone that comes with the discussion of sex but points out that we are still repressed today. He does acknowledge that there are small rebellions against this culture taking place, but that in order to change the culture different questions must be answered. Foucault uses the end of his introduction to question what power drives the repression and look into the institutions that drive people to address sex in the way that they do. Foucault provides very thought provoking questions and ideas that are helping one understand how sex is addressed but also these questions pose a way to change the narrative about sex.

Does obtaining “love” mean losing your freedom?

Kipnis emphasizes throughout her work that in order to obtain the long-lasting modern love it seems that one must give up their freedom to exiting the house without informing your partner where you’re headed or that one must acknowledge that there are parts of their identity that they should erase because they “irk” their partner.  She consistently points out throughout the piece that it seems that this “modern love” is a process in which to maintain one must be willing to lose part of themselves. While I have seen people completely change in order to satisfy their partner or to make their partner “stick around” in my opinion those are the least successful relationships and quite frankly don’t last long because the person is losing what essential to being them.

Kipnis makes every part of a relationship seem completely taxing and a game of loss on all sides. She remains very negative and cynical about processes such as: learning more about the intricacies of how your partner thinks or about their past. Kipnis illustrates these processes as the worst possible things for that other person to participate in. She assumes “opening up” is a very uncomfortable process for most people, when there have certainly been others who say that understanding each other better was not only rewarding to the relationship but allowed for the pair to live more freely.

Overall I did enjoy the piece because, although a cynical outlook on long-term relationships, the piece did point out that love can be examined in many different ways. Some may not see parts of building a relationship as rewarding and, in fact, see those parts as acts of submission towards their partner. It was an eye-opening journey into a look at how love is detrimental to the soul potentially, but only in the eyes of some.