Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon Runs Dry

C. Dale calls out Garrison Keillor for his homophobic statements in Salon.

In the article, Keillor states that the world would be better served without parents who operate as a stereotypical gay male, and precludes this stereotype with another on how he sees a typical gay male:

"The country has come to accept stereotypical gay men -- sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in over-decorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog and who worship campy performers and go in for flamboyance now and then themselves. If they want to be accepted as couples and daddies, however, the flamboyance may have to be brought under control. Parents are supposed to stand in back and not wear chartreuse pants and black polka-dot shirts. That's for the kids. It's their show."

Now there are some who have commented that Keillor is operating within the permissable bounds of satire within this article, but I find that very hard to believe. This is an opinion piece, and an ugly one at that. I am not even going into how he told a group of elementary school students (who were first generation immigrants) that "back in the day, we were cowboys and rode horses." That would be a bit too easy. But, for argument's sake let me just say in an overly, effeminate fashion, "Talk about wrong colors and standing in the background!"

I do believe Keillor made an effective argument for the frivolous use of U. S. funds, but to believe his statements on homosexuality and how "we all used to be cowboys" reflects an unseen, sideways humor would be "to look, like a fish, for a hole in the net," as the Somoan proverb goes. Of course, my proverb comes off a bit more colorful, without the requisite "whoopi-ti-yi-yo" or "clip-clops and whinnies" of my Cowboy ancestors. What can I say? Our writer from Lake Wobegon, has simply run his river dry to this American.

If you, or anyone you know, has a question about how "off the mark" Keiller's statements are, then send them my way. I have a copy of Huckleberry Finn on the floor - a work by a true American satirist, and one who would reply to Keillor with a bit more sass than I.

In my opinion, I believe Keiller's Lake Wobegon tales are fixed upon the Reaganomics of his time. Fortunately, like the Cold War, the wall has come down, and slights of government policy simply don't cut the mustard in contemporary American humor, which has moved beyond the dull knives of Small Town, America to the razor blades and machetes of Flarfists, Eminem, and yours truly.

Shikow Yo'self!


Anonymous said...

Though I understand your aggravation, I think GK is onto something. Sometimes the best way to make a point is not to make it as loudly as possible. Perhaps what Keillor describes are things that are not essential to the gay-rights movement. Perhaps it is not gayness per se that so many main-stream americans are opposed to, but the apparently wild and hedonistic lifestyle that they (wrongly or rightly) associate with homosexuals. To some people gayness comes with a lot of accessories - to others it just means being attracted to members of the same sex.

Pirooz M. Kalayeh said...

Wild and hedonistic behavior is not exclusive to any sexual orientation or human being. To cite this as support for Kellor's statements would actually misalign his position. He wasn't citing homosexuals as being wild or hedonistic. This is something you are doing now.

Garrison was commenting on the role gay parents have within the social environment of a public parent-teacher-conference. He felt that fashion sense would outshine the true focus on the children whom the meeting was arranged for.

If GK truly believes how someone dresses needs to be curtailed within a public environment, then we might as well fashion a uniform polcy for any and all engagements.

Truth be told, how someone dresses is a matter of choice, and bears no relevance on the quality of one's parenting.

If a chiffon sweater on a man is going to affect Garrison to such an extent that he feels it necessary to cite fashion as a detractor to a public meeting, then it may be safe to say that the real detractor to the event would be an individual who lets base prejudices interrupt their ability to be an open, non-racist parent.

It's this simple.

If you honestly believe the gay community is anymore wild and hedonistic than any other, you might benefit from a dose of reality.

We are all individuals on this planet. We need to accept and acknowledge that sexual orientation, race, religion, or fashion sense are not guidelines for discrimination or prejudism.

Until this becomes a general understanding, and all who populate the Earth are conscious of their lack of dissimilarity from one to the other, voices who cite injustices and bring them to light are of vital importance, whether they are members of a particular community or not.

Of course, you're right. This is not just a gay rights issue. This is a world issue. It's a human issue. It's an injustice, and as Dr. King said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Anonymous said...

My point was this:

A large swathe of America believes that gay people choose to do 'wild and hedonistic things' - this is the perception on which that swathe bases their understanding of homosexuality.

Strategically speaking, if the gay community wants to gain ground in the mainstream and have a true voice, it needs to show those who believe gayness is merely a 'sinful choice' that they are dead wrong.

I just think the best way to to do this is for the gay community to move past its adolescence. Young straight boys dress as punks for a while, then learn that there is more to rebellion than dressing funny. By being gay, a person necessarily has to rebel throughout his life - this is due to the nature of the society we live in. But there are other ways to rebel than just to try and stand out at a parent-teacher conference. It's time for the gay community as a whole to reevaluate its image and ask, 'How do I want to be perceived by the rest of the world?'