Sunday, March 7, 2010

Modern Classifications

In my discussion and exploration of the word queer, I discussed how the word’s modern aim is to defeat categorization, but in terming a word, it lends itself to just that. Presently, there are more attempts at defeating classifications than there has been previously. Instead of using terms to classify themselves, many people take a different stance, and they don’t pick a defining word at all. Following the trend, many current celebrities voice their objection to classification as well. Along with these celebrities and every day people, modern media has sometimes presented images of rising against classification. It is important for these few outlets of high status celebrities and media, because often, stereotypical classification is presented when surrounding the LGBT community.

When confronted about their sexuality, many modern celebrities have chosen to abstain from classification. Stars that are considered macho sometimes do not answer when questioned. When questioned about his sexuality, Keanu Reeves stated, “I try not to live my life by what other people say.”* Instead of defining himself as straight, he let the question remain, pushing his views against classification forward. Another example of a male celebrity is musical artist Mika. When questioned, Mika has made the same point as Reeves, “I’ve never ever labeled myself.” Mika also follows another modern approach to sexuality; the modern idea that sexuality, as a social construct, limits people, and it is more important to love people for who they are instead of their gender. “I've never limited my life, I've never limited who I sleep with...Call me whatever you want.”**

Both of the above celebrities avoided classifying themselves, but it is human nature to classify. Stereotypes themselves come from the basic human need to categorize. Based on their quotes, people would use their knowledge to classify these two. Reeves might be accused of being gay, because he avoided answering the question, and Mika will be referred to as bisexual because he doesn’t love men or women, but people. So can it be said that no matter what is done, or who avoids classifying themselves, human nature will always cause it to occur anyway?

Modern times have made humans more acceptable of this avoidance to classification, but while classification remains, stereotyping will follow. The media often portrays members of the homosexual community in a certain light, but recently, there have been some attempts to show that these stereotypes don’t always remain true. In the recent movie Valentine’s Day the character played by Eric Dane is a quarterback, and he came out in the movie, and it is later shown that he is with the character played by Bradley Cooper. This movie helps defeat stereotypes and classification, because these two characters, played by two Hollywood heartthrobs, are seemingly straight.

Other examples also present themselves which help show that with the coming of new generations of thinkers, stereotypes can be broken and that classification is not as necessary. Hopefully this trend will continue and the categorization that seems to be so important to members of our society will become a thing of the past and people can just be people, love who they want to love, and not be required to fit into a certain set of guidelines.

We have spent a good portion of this quarter reading about "queer" characters that were different and broke categories. Whether it was Maurice in his departure from society, Clare in her passing, Catherine in her different approach to life, or Jose Villa's questionably bisexual character. These characters help us to defeat categories, and allowed us to view each individual person without classifying them, because with many of these characters, it was hard to do. To wrap up our blog, I wanted to show how it is not just this class that is catching up to modern times, but slowly, the media and celebrities are helping create a more understanding and acceptable world.

Image of Mika
Image of Eric Dane


  1. Ted, I was telling my friend about this post--particularly: When questioned about his sexuality, Keanu Reeves stated, “I try not to live my life by what other people say.”* Instead of defining himself as straight, he let the question remain, pushing his views against classification forward.

    and she said to me, "But that obviously means he's gay." And I found myself getting so frustrated by not only her (society's) need to classify everyone, but also the assumptions that people are so desperate to make.

    In Cincinnati I worked with an English teacher who I knew to be straight, but her ran her school's LGBT club. She refused to name her sexuality and all her students assumed that she way gay. She put up with a lot of hateful comments and actions from her students, but never broke down and said, "I'm straight!" I admire this woman so much and really appreciate your thoughtful post on this subject.

  2. Ted,

    I think that the idea of letting yourself be "queer" and not identifying sexuality is really interesting. Another great example of celebrities who don't want to be classified would be Queen Latifa who has been the star of MANY romantic comedies with men but also has played roles as a lesbian. (Including her role in the movie "Set it off"). When she first came onto the movie scene she was very much a "tom-boy" and wore far more hip-hop, gangster clothing as a part of her persona as a female rapper. Now we obviously have a very different image of Queen Latifa as a beautiful starlet who does make-up ads and wears gorgeous gowns. I think that it is interesting that through all of these other transformations she has never actually declared her sexuality and it is inspiring that she continues to hold onto that conviction even after years in Hollywood.

    I think that it would be amazing to see more of us stand up for not classifying ourselves and being okay with the term "queer" to describe our lives. I think in the end because we use the term "queer" to mean different the reality is we're all queer. This is a very inspiring post though and I'm glad you decided to share it!