View Full Version : Covering
04-06-2006, 10:56 PM
Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights
by Jenji Yoshino
I heard the author speak about his work on the Gay Cable Network this evening (NYC). This work speaks to the journey that gay christians experience in communities of faith and society at large: the demand to 'cover' is insistent and pervasive within the church especially.
The publisher's note:
"In this remarkable and elegant work, acclaimed Yale Law School professor Kenji Yoshino fuses legal manifesto and poetic memoir to call for a redefinition of civil rights in our law and culture.
Everyone covers. To cover is to downplay a disfavored trait so as to blend into the mainstream. Because all of us possess stigmatized attributes, we all encounter pressure to cover in our daily lives. Given its pervasiveness, we may experience this pressure to be a simple fact of social life.
Against conventional understanding, Kenji Yoshino argues that the demand to cover can pose a hidden threat to our civil rights."
04-07-2006, 06:37 AM
Something came to mind today regarding that notion. On msnbc the caption for Jeff Skilling on trial – the Enron Scandal, was “grilling Skilling.” Cute and we know how they love to use metaphors and word play but I intellectualized it. I thought to myself, what does that mean, why use a heat metaphor?
What it refers to of course is that everything private in his mind and in his life that has any relation to this scandal would be made public and be open for scrutiny by anyone and everyone for the most part.
What struck me was how Hell is often referred to as being fire, burning in hell etc. and how when we die, we no longer have a physical body to separate us from others, our inner most being is visible to all, hell to anyone not expecting it.
It occurred to me that the way to avoid this is to treat life in that same open way. Always aware of and coming to terms with those parts of us we don’t want to be seen, essentially just honesty, within and without.
I think that’s one advantage those of use who are LGBT who’ve learned to accept what society tells us we should not. Having learned that lesson, there is significantly less fear in dealing with many other parts of ourselves that we find “undesirable.”
But look at what some of us have gone through to get to this point of accepting and expressing ourselves, and still it is too much for some to 'come out.'
My point is that I agree. My observation is that for those who’ve grown up with the notion that this is a “fact of life” so to speak, and fit into society -heterosexual etc., There’s a separate challenge for them to stop hiding themselves. Look how much it takes for those of us whose need to be honest with ourselves and others in order to be happy. So many of us have a clear definition of what rock bottom means, we have experience with the fear it takes to go against social norm and risk rejection and are now less afraid of dealing with other aspects of our lives that may need change. How much more insidious is the difficulty for those to whom rock bottom is not an option because their lives have been so mainstream for so long. It’s like a catch 22, there’s no definitive recognizable hell for them to relate to because all their problems are technically ‘normal.’
One good thing about being a minority like us is that some of us have been able to break through that social conditioning and recognize the importance of the process of self reflection/introspection and how it relates to expressing ourselves with others. -Just a thought, not sure where to go with it from there..
Does anyone get that or is it too esoteric? I think I’m fading, maybe someone else can put it better... :)
So many of us have a clear definition of what rock bottom means, we have experience with the fear it takes to go against social norm and risk rejection and are now less afraid of dealing with other aspects of our lives that may need change. How much more insidious is the difficulty for those to whom rock bottom is not an option because their lives have been so mainstream for so long. It’s like a catch 22, there’s no definitive recognizable hell for them to relate to because all their problems are technically ‘normal.’
Being broken...it's a blessing. We will endure (or cover) for as long as we can stand the strain. But when we shatter, we have the chance to be rebuilt in a way that works with our situation rather than against it. My own dear father has managed for his entire adult life to resist the breaking. Back bowed under the weight of so many conflicts of faith, yet always only able to affirm the standard fundamentalist Christian dogma.
It's a death to which we yield...and a rebirth that we gain.
Covering....there's a life that we all have to lose.
04-07-2006, 06:40 PM
Well that definitely says it better.
-That's seriously good, :)
04-07-2006, 06:44 PM
Emproph, I think your point is exactly what the thread, 'caution, this makes you gay' has lead into. That is why we are frightening. We have gone through what others have yet to. We know rejection and we know what its like to have our secrets ripped from us and spread around to everyones delightful little demeaning giggles. It is an perephiral perk of being gay...
Another thought as to being stripped to pure, honest beingness... I've often imagined what it would be like if we actually were able to read each others minds. Say. mini speakers in all foreheads, blurting out every uncensored thought instantaneously. The scarey first question when two 'friends" meet, "so, what do you really think of me? What is the last thing you want me to know?" and visa-versa. The first encounter will be one of pure confession... Pose this concept to a few people and notice thier reaction. It is quite revealing and speaks volumes as to how honest they are. There are those rare ones who would be fine with it, but most get a chill and dread the thought... That is where I believe Heaven is an option and some may not choose the honesty it will require of us.
04-09-2006, 01:16 PM
The New Yorker
Yoshino’s memoir-cum-treatise combines a provocative examination of the current state of civil rights with an account of his experiences as a gay Japanese-American. Arguing that discrimination now targets “the subset of the group that fails to assimilate to mainstream norms,” Yoshino describes a phenomenon that he calls “covering”: the pressure exerted on racial minorities to “act white,” the social acceptance offered to gays as long as they don’t “flaunt” their identities, the ways women in the workplace are expected to camouflage their lives as mothers. Exploring the history of civil-rights litigation in the United States, Yoshino concludes that courts have too often focussed on individuals’ capacity to assimilate, rather than on the legitimacy of the demand that they do so.
Dash- Your words re your father resonated with me strongly and made me contemplate that each generation has its opportunities to throw off prejudice and ignorance. I imagine that your very presence is quite informative in this area.
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