Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Katy Perry, Stereotypes, and Learning to Check Your Sources

The TrevorProject is an organization that supports LGBTQ+ youth, which was started in 1998. It offers support to queer and questioning young adults, and provides a hotline for LGBTQ teens who are struggling with thoughts of suicide. According to their website, they are the “leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.”

Recently, The Trevor Project held an event called Trevor Live, at which Katy Perry was honored with the Trevor Hero Award for her work as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. I found out about this via this GIF on Tumblr, supposedly depicting Perry's acceptance of the award:

To say the least, this disturbed me. I couldn't understand how someone who is so involved in fighting for LGBTQ rights could be so trivializing and use such stereotypes in accepting an award for her work as an ally. The stereotype of the “gay best friend” or “gay boyfriend” is hurtful because it perpetuates a single view of gay men, and erases gay men who do not fit into that stereotype. It also says that a gay man’s value lies in his ability to entertain straight women. I was shocked that someone who was supposedly an ally would use this trope.

Upon finding and watching Perry’s speech online, however, I was relieved to realize that Perry had not, in fact, said any such thing. She discusses growing up in an intolerant home, and what it was like to gradually learn that the things she had been taught about LGBTQ people were untrue and unfair. “I believe that everyone has value,” she said, “and everyone deserves respect, and everyone deserves the chance to live their dream regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” It was a wonderful speech.

Immediately after being relieved, however, I was upset again – why would someone make that GIF? Perry even says in her speech that she hopes that our ideas of the LGBTQ community can transform beyond the idea that they are a “novelty friend group,” in direct contrast to the words in the GIF. So what’s going on? Apparently, whoever made the GIF wanted to cast Perry as someone who is not truly an ally.

Essentially, this is a lesson in checking your sources. User-generated spaces like Tumblr, Reddit, and Facebook are riddled with myths, misconceptions, and flat-out lies. As an ally, Katy Perry is evidently a person passionate about support, education, and justice for the LGBTQ+ community, and it’s sad to see that someone would deliberately try to discount her work. She is not always the most “politically correct,” but that doesn't give anyone the right to lie about her. It’s easy to see a GIF like that and think to yourself, what a horrible thing for an “ally” to say! and then continue scrolling down the page, having formed a new opinion of someone based on misinformation. But it’s important to remember that the internet isn’t right about everything, and before you decide on your opinion, you have to fact-check what you read.

Watch the whole video of Katy Perry's acceptance speech here.

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