Tuesday, August 7, 2007

How Many People Hate You?

I'm watching Without Prejudice, a show on Game Show Network that is more sociological experiment than game show.  The idea is that there are five people (the contestants), one of whom will win $25,000.  Then there are five other people (the panel) who will decide which one of them gets the money.  The panel eliminates people one by one, after learning a little bit about them.  The first one has to be eliminated based on a short introduction (name, age, appearance, home city).  After that, they learn a bit more (education, family life, job) and continue to narrow down the field.

One of the contestants this week is gay.  When this came out in the second round, two of the five panel members immediately expressed disapproval.  (They also expressed some fairly ignorant beliefs about homosexuals, but let's not go there right now.)  And it just sorta hit me -- like I hadn't noticed it before -- that, given this (not-exactly-random) sample of humanity, two out of five of them are instantly going to hate a homosexual just because he's guy.

It brought to mind an instance in High School, when we were talking about racism, and one of the Black students said that whenever she walks into a room, she knows that a certain percentage of the people in the room are going to hate her just for who she is.  She doesn't know who they are -- racists don't often clearly identify themselves -- but she knows she's got to deal with that every time she walks into a new situation. 

And it just hit me that, yeah, it's pretty much the same for gay people (although a person's orientation isn't necessarily as obvious as a person's racial background).  But gay men and lesbians just sorta have to deal with the fact that a certain percentage of people they meet -- given this TV show, probably a fairly high percentage -- are just gonna hate them for who they are.

I'm fairly lucky in that the culture in which I find myself living finds me -- at least on the surface -- to be relatively acceptable.  (You gotta really know me before you hate me.)  I've come across a little bit of hate based on my Jewishness, but it's been such a rare occurrence that I don't anticipate it in any social situation. 

But it's certainly depressing -- and extremely disappointing to me -- to reflect on how many Americans must have come to expect to be hated.

1 comment:

hewasolddog299 said...

I'm just surprised it was only two. Given my experience, I'd have said that 60% would have an immediate splanchnic reaction to the man's homosexuality.

Both personally and professionally I know that I will rub about one in three people the wrong way, just for being who I am and what I look like. I've accepted it and expected it as part of human nature. So, I expect the experience is somewhat more universal than just a limitation of Americans.

We forget, all too easily, that we are born killers and haters and must struggle against our baser natures each and every day if we wish to present a veneer of civilization as a part of our public persona. I suspect it will always be so.