Mecca Jamilah Sullivan’s Blue Talk and Love provides a melancholy, sober look into Earnestine’s life—while her exploration of her ambiguous sexuality is the center of the story, her desire, like those of most teenagers, are hidden underneath layers of body insecurity, feelings of otherness, discomfort, and envy, and worries about her life at home. Sullivan’s story exposes how complicated sexuality can be, and how coming to terms with an outside-the-norm sexuality can be difficult when one gets so easily distracted by other insecurities. Just as the story doesn’t expose Earnestine’s sexuality until its end—and never truly explains it—her feelings for Xiomara are hidden throughout the narration, rather than stated as truth by the narrator, or by Earnestine herself. Earnestine’s father’s issues and her insecurities about fitting into school dominate the narrative, only leaving her sexual orientation as a small thread that gets explored right at the very end. This construction reveals that sexuality remains private, predetermined, and unquestioned for most of our lives—Earnestine assumes that she hates Xiomara instead of considering that her feelings for Xiomara might be more complicated than that.
Earnestine’s opinion of Xiomara—one of envy and distaste—is revealed to really be the product of her affection for Xiomara conflicting with the norms constructed by society. Earnestine assumes that Xiomara enjoys having boys chase after her, and that Earnestine herself should be searching for a boyfriend, too. While her sexuality is never explicitly stated—the narrator acknowledges that Earnestine desires boys as well as Xiomara, leaving her orientation outside the bounds of a label—Earnestine resents Xiomara for her alluring personality and looks. Sullivan treads a very fine line between the feeling of jealousy when comparing oneself to a more beautiful, more popular girl, and the feeling of longing to be romantically involved with her, and this ambiguity represents what it feels like for Earnestine to explore her sexuality.
In “Blue Talk and Love” by Mecca Sullivan Earnestine explores and experiences many different kinds of unconventional love in her life from her parents tumultuous marriage to her infatuation with her neighbor and peer Xiomara. As opposed to most of the articles we’ve read thus far, this piece is fictional but often I find that fiction can portray truths better than factual statements. Her style is borders on lyrical and has many lengthy descriptions.
When comparing herself to her peers, Earnestine feels as if she doesn’t live up to the white beauty standards around her which perpetuate that being white and thin is beautiful. Her male classmates often make fun of her for the way she looks. On the other hand, her father tells her that her appearance doesn’t matter, what matters is that she has soul. She often compares herself to Xiomara who is stereotypically beautiful and who is universally adored by boys at school and feels insignificant.
Her relationship with Xiomara is very personal and the time they spend together is intimate. She “felt that she and Xiomara were alone in a secret tropical cave beneath a post-apocalyptic city sometime around the year 2020–an impossible distance away.” (23) Spending time with Xiomara allows her to escape her reality. By the end of the story its implied that Xiomara and Earnestine have some kind of romantic or sexual relationship.
She often observes her parents fighting at home and “It was the small hidden questions of her parent’s lives that scared her.” (32) The communication issues between them are apparent. Her father often plays music after their fights and he plays September but “It was a ballad, a relentless tale of loss that brought to mind all of the things she feared most about love, and made her wonder how people managed to grow up at all.” (34) She doesn’t seem to understand how people fall in love or stay in love since her parents aren’t in love anymore. The connection between “blue talk and love” symbolizes how often with love there is sadness accompanied with it.
Roxanne Gay explores the effects of celebrities and public figures who choose to reveal themselves as members of the LGBTQ community. It is Gay’s belief that while interesting, these revelations don’t advance the agenda of the community, and that unrealistic expectations are placed on these celebrities to help do so. Gay examines the stories of Anderson Cooper, Frank Ocean, and Sally Ride in this piece to prove her point.
I agree with parts of what Gay says such as her opinion that we expect far too much of people in the public eye. “We expect role models to model the behavior we are perfectly capable of modeling ourselves” (p.169). Anderson Cooper, Sally Ride, and Frank Ocean are probably far too busy (and didn’t ask) to take on as behemoth of a task as engineering change for a whole community. “Despite our complex cultural climate and what needs to be done for the greater good, it is still an unreasonable burden that someone who is marginalized must bear an extra set of responsibilities” (p.168).
While I strongly agree with that sentiment, Gay somewhat loses me when she is discussing Frank Ocean. Her credibility takes a hit when she is discussing the “Odd Future” music collective. When reading it, it is easy to find yourself agreeing with Gay and her opposition to artists such as Tyler the Creator, but with a quick google search she could have found out that Tyler the Creator himself is a member of the LGBTQ community, having come out and addressed it multiple times over the years. While this doesn’t make her point moot, I think that her credibility definitely takes a hit as she is attacking a bisexual man for using a slur in a song. I’d imagine it to be similar to a black man using the “N” word in a rap.
Overall, I agree with Gay’s points, but it jumped out at me that she would write this as fact without including necessary details.
Roxanne Gay begins her piece “A Tale of Three Coming Out Stories” analyzing the increasing lack of privacy, especially for public figures, in today’s culture. We desire to know everything in their lives’, from their sexuality to intimate details of their relationships, despite not quite having the authority. Gay associates the public as “we”, creating a common and more subjective critique of this crave of knowledge We assume its the sacrifice they make for fame and fortune. However, we forget that these public figures are still human, and often just figuring it out for themselves too.
Gay analyzes the three coming out stories of Anderson Cooper, Frank Ocean, and Sally Rider. All different types of celebrities, with different stories, in different places. However, with their publicity of their sexuality, they were able to “stand up and be counted”. This is an integral part of the quest for LGBTQ rights. Often we already love the celebrity, and thus, their sexuality brings more to light and has helped to normalize the issues. Their fame creates a responsibility- they are in a place where they can come out and help the issues, but not all are so lucky. Between hate crimes and hatred, depending on where you are, it can be literally dangerous to come out. While the privacy is an important right, the publicity of coming out can change lives and help with the civil rights of the entire movement
However, in order to complete address the movement, society as a whole must do more. We should no longer be allowed to normalize and be okay with anything but acceptance.
In “A Tale of Three Coming Out Stories”, Roxane Gay examines the privacy rights of celebrities and their influence on social issues such as homosexuality. Gay argues that by becoming more famous, there is a tradeoff with less privacy. This is because as humans, we are curious and want to know anything just for the sake of it. Celebrities are easy targets because they are always talked about and they are known to the public. However, Gay feels that it is wrong to strip the boundaries of these individuals because they are humans as well. I agree with her stance on that because some individuals that become famous never intended to. They were just doing what they love, and happened to be put in that position.
Because of their social position, we tend to put tremendous pressure on these celebrities to tackle social issues. A huge one would be “coming out the closet”, where so many individuals are coming out as gay, bisexual, etc. While it is amazing for progress and people are more comfortable now than ever to come out, it shouldn’t be the responsibility of those under the spotlight. We put an unfair amount of responsibility on these celebrities to change the world, but they are human beings as well. They never signed up to change the beliefs about homosexuality, and the first ones who did succumb to the social pressure definitely had to feel uncomfortable. However, as the saying goes “curiosity killed the cat”, someone has to pay for our need for information. As in this case, it is unfortunately the homosexual celebrities.
In “A Tale of Three Coming Out Stories” By Roxane Gay she explores the role of celebrities coming out and their responsibilities to do so. The first part of her argument is constructed around the role of privacy and how expecting people to come out, or forcing them to is a violation of privacy. Our culture is obsessed with placing these people in categories will have some impact on our lives, or that creating these categories is our responsibility, when most of the time, creating such taxonomy won’t change anything at all.” (161) Her use of the word taxonomy has a scientific edge to it implying that our culture categorizes people’s sexuality almost in a pseudo-scientific manner to imply that difference in sexuality has greater implications which it doesn’t. People’s intense, yet useless curiosity often results in people being “forcibly outed” (161). Celebrities face the most pressure to come out even if it violates their right to privacy. Because of their roles as public figures many people think that “there is a greater obligation that must be met beyond what that person might ordinarily choose to meet” (164). Gay recognizes that this pressure isn’t necessarily fair and that it shouldn’t be necessary, but because their actions can make a potential difference they should.
The second component of her argument is that not all instances of coming out are as easy as others. She makes the point that Anderson Cooper didn’t face much backlash when he publicly came out because like other gay celebrities, he doesn’t present as “too gay” and that is why he was accepted because of he is“white, successful, handsome, and masculine” (165). He fits the image that people want to assign to gay men and therefore was accepted as so. Others who do not fulfill this image often face challenges. She refers to this issue as “a problem though that there’s a right kind of gay” (166). An eye opening comparison she drew for me was the difference in situations between Anderson Cooper coming out and Frank Ocean coming out. Because of their differing identities, careers, and communities they exist in they’re public coming outs had very different levels of risk.
After reading “The Supreme Court’s Lonely Hearts Club” by Michael Cobb, most would agree that our society and government’s outlook on marriage is very impractical. While I agree with practically everything Cobb says, I don’t question why the government pushes for marriage as Cobb does. Cobb questions “Why can’t I put a good friend on my health care plan? Why can’t my neighbor and I file our taxes together so we could save some money, as my parents do? If I failed to make a will, why is it unlikely a dear friend would inherit my estate?”(2) almost as if the government and people making these laws don’t understand what love is themselves, and that is my problem with this piece.
The government pushes marriage for the soul purpose of driving the economy. An individual getting married is good for everyone. Tax breaks are given to married people and to people with children because these people spend far more money than a single individual. Applying the same laws to close friends wouldn’t have close to the same economic impact as it does with spouses. In a way he addresses this by saying the reason is that “the only thing that truly distinguishes romance and marriage from other loving intimacies like friendships, other familial relationships and close business partnerships is that sex is (or once was) part of the picture.” But it about sex far less than it is about all of the things that come with it.
I agree with most of his other points, but his whole paper revolves around why the government is fixated on this specific definition of love (marriage), and I think the answer is pretty obvious, because it is in their best interest to do it that way.
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.
In “Against Love” by Laura Kipnis, a logic backed argument is presented against the commonly expected experience of love, or better yet marriage. Kipnis acknowledges that in our early years all of our “survival depended on the caprices of love” (740) and that “exchanging obedience for love comes naturally” (740), but it is due to those characteristics that marriage over time has become a freedom-limiting practice. Provided in the piece is an informal list of privileges we take for granted that are stripped from our lives when we enter a serious monogamous relationship. The freedom to be a slob, eat whatever you want, procrastinate, be in a bad mood, spend money, take risks, and be honest are all sacrificed.
By recognizing the ideology of why people feel the need to fall in love and get married, Kipnis makes her argument so much more compelling. She points out that there are logical reasons for marriage such as the ability to raise a child in a socially accepted environment, and the predictability that comes along with having a spouse. Marriage in society is seen as a happy, desirable, life altering, event that leads to a better life, and those who don’t marry are looked down on as “unlovable” but the more one reads “Against Love”, the clearer it becomes that most of the joy one experiences when marrying is actually due to avoidance of social ostracism.
Overall, while I don’t agree, I think Kipnis’s points and arguments, while very controversial, are very logical and thought provoking. She questions the whole system and rightfully so. It gives the reader a lot to think about far after they are done reading it.
Hi folks –
This is the space in which you will post your responses to each reading. Please post under the appropriate category for the reading so we can keep the site organized. Play around with it and feel free to change any settings. If you have any trouble, we can talk in class.