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Katy Perry and homophobia

The singer-songwriter Katy Perry is running number one in the US and likely soon in the UK as well with a song that has strirred the Gay community — for the the second time. This time it's her song "I Kissed a Girl". The line "You're my experimental game" and the coy references to the boyfriend should sum up well enough what it's about.

The first one was "UR So Gay". Using "gay" as a pejorative and associating the boyfriend with homosexuals in a stereotyping manner has been condemned as demeaning toward gays. That is true, but it's not the whole story. Actually, the song would be hateful even without the gay reference. After all, the object of hatred in the song, the one who is being urged to commit suicide — a pretty damn hateful act on itself — is not a homosexual man but a heterosexual one. He is not being picked out for hatred because of his sexual behaviour, but because of just about everything else about him. The reason for hatred is not something he has done to the narrator, but his failure to comply with the standards of heterosexual masculinity. After all, it is implied that his behaviour wouldn't be quite as reprehensible if he actually was gay.

What makes the song interesting is how it illustrates the double function of homophobia — it is not only a weapon to marginalise homosexuals, it is also a weapon to keep the straight in line.