Friday, February 8, 2013

Perfume Genius, Heteronormativity, and the Idea of Safety

I've been listening the album Put Your Back N 2 It by Perfume Genius (Mike Headras) on Spotify for a few months now and have been really enjoying it. I'll admit, it was usually on in the background and I didn't pay much attention to the words, just loved the overall sound and feeling of it.

I was on HuffPost today for whatever reason, and ended up clicking on a story about a gay porn star that committed suicide a few days ago in New York City (Arpad Miklos). As I was reading the story, it referenced a music video that Mr. Miklos performed in with Mike Headras. Of course I clicked on it, and it's beyond lovely and moving.

See what I mean?

HuffPost reported that this video had been banned from YouTube. The music video is up today (I hope you just watched it, or are about to watch it), and in following the in-text links from HuffPost, it looks like a 16-second promo for the album is what was actually banned from YouTube.

YouTube apparently banned the promo because it wasn't "family safe," writing the following:

"The ad has been disapproved because it violates our Adult Image/Video Content policy. Per this policy, video content, audio, static imagery, and site content must be family safe. Any ads that contain non family safe material are disapproved. I noted to the team that the people in the video are not entirely unclothed, but the overall feeling of the video is one of a more adult nature, including promoting mature sexual themes and what appears to be nude content. As such, the video is non family safe. In order to have this video ad approved, you will need to bring it into compliance with our policy."

Of course, as HuffPost pointed out, YouTube most likely would not have had an issue with the video if it featured a heterosexual couple instead of homosexual one.

I know, I know, this is old news (a whole year old, and I'm pretty sure internet years are like dog years). Even though this issue has since been resolved, the banning of a harmless promotion really irked me. I wrote about the potential harm of assuming heterosexuality two weeks ago (part of the overarching theme of heteronormativity we find ourselves in), and THIS is the result: the blindness that people and organizations have about putting heterosexuality over homosexuality, and marginalizing people that don't fit into nice little boxes of "masculine," "feminine," and "straight." (And really, is anyone 100% straight? I'm not.)

A quote from Headras:

"Why are straight women always walking with their hands in the back pocket of their boyfriends' jeans? Would I do that all the time too if I didn't have to think about it? Alan [Hadreas's boyfriend] and I hold hands in specific parts of the city and sometimes outside of those parts. But there is always a little 'catch'; no matter how much I think the shame and fear is gone, there is always a little something in the back of my mind. I am almost embarrassed sometimes when we are holding hands, and that fucking infuriates me. I can't even imagine that hesitation ever going away, and that makes me very sad."

Where do I feel safe? I feel safe almost everywhere. I feel safe in my apartment, in my parents' home, in my neighborhood, and really anywhere that Ian and I go together. I feel safe holding hands with him, even kissing or hugging him in public. I feel safe in my sexuality.

I find it saddening to imagine a world where none of that is true, or only bits and pieces are true. I have never had to "come out of the closet." I don't worry about my family rejecting me for wanting to have sex with the person I love. I don't worry about not being able to express the gender I identify with. I don't worry about being unable to find gainful employment because I'm open an openly straight person (I worry about finding gainful employment for other reasons!).