The Rebuttal

One of my recent pieces (“Muy Fabuloso”) also appeared on the Huffington Post last week. The post was about homophobia in Latino culture. On the Huffington site, I received numerous comments.

Many were supportive. Several were insightful and thought-provoking. Others were diatribes. But as usual, what I focused on were the bitchy ones.

I heard that I was fanning the flames to turn this into a racial issue. I was accused of saying all Hispanics were Catholic and all Catholics were homophobes (could someone Venn diagram this for me?). I found out that I was “scapegoating Latinos” and “pitting minority groups against one another.” I discovered that I was spreading “anti-religious heterophobia,” which I’m pretty sure is a brand-new term (and concept). Finally, I learned that I simply “don’t understand the dynamics” of California, which is hilarious considering that I lived in the heart of Los Angeles for half a decade.

But my point wasn’t about California. It wasn’t about Catholic dogma. It wasn’t about Hispanics and blacks and gays all fighting it out, like we’re fireflies shook up in a jar. It wasn’t even about Proposition 8.

It was about homophobia in Hispanic culture.

As I said in my response on the Huffington Post, Hispanic culture has a powerful one-two punch in traditional machismo and religious upbringing that makes homophobia tough to eradicate.

I stand by that.

Again, using Proposition 8 as a rough gauge, we see that more Latinos supported rescinding gay rights than did the general population (53% versus 52%) The fact that it was close diminishes in comfort when one sees that an actual minority of white and Asian voters (49% of each) supported the proposition, meaning that only blacks were more likely to vote yes on this.

Add to this the fact that Hispanics voted overwhelmingly for Obama (Asian voters were less enthusiastic, and whites were more likely to pick McCain), and we see that it is not a powerful strain of social conservatism that drove the vote. Hispanics are more likely to agree with Democratic or even liberal ideas. So clearly, there is something in the culture specifically about gays that many Latinos don’t like.

The glimmer of hope, as some commentators pointed out, is that younger Hispanics are rejecting the gay-bashing of their elders. As such, they mirror the general population, providing further proof that assimilation is taking place, despite what so many conservatives insist (but that’s another topic).

Still, the feedback has prompted me to emphasize once more what I’m trying to say with this blog. My goal has been to praise and celebrate a culture that is largely ignored (except during election season) by mainstream America. However, my additional goal is to point out the flaws in this culture in the hopes that they will be rectified.

I may not always be successful, but I will continue to strive for that balance between lifting up and tearing down.


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November 2008
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