LGBTQ community is struggling for their rights for many decades and their demands include a sense of belongingness and preservation of their unique identity. They also demand consideration from people and that is why these movements are so prevalent nowadays so masses can understand the needs of the LGBTQ community. Since these people want to live in harmony with straight people and they do not pose any threat to collective communities or society in general. However, earlier gay people were perceived as outcasts and same-sex relationships were discouraged. Besides, people who developed same-sex affection were called mentally ill and they were kept in specifically designed asylums or concentration camps. They were given electric shocks so they could become straight men. All these practices result in more stereotypes towards Gay men and their human rights. The current essay discusses the idea of Gay relationship in the book Ziggy, Stardust and Me. It also discusses the problems faced by gay people of color in the 1970s America and compares it with the contemporary situation of such people in today’s American society.
Jonathan develops liking for same-sex persons in his teenage and becomes a victim of the inhumane treatment where he is given electric shocks so that he can become normal and sync in well with the society around him. He finds comfort and affection in Web because they both face the same sentiment of same-sex relationships and undergo electric shock treatment. They face discriminatory behavior by society when in reality, their distinct desires do not harm the masses. The hatred towards Gay people shows the stereotypical mindset of people because they view things in terms of normative behavior or deviant behavior. Similarly, the parallel events of the Vietnam War signify that people do not discourage wars which give rise to hatred and bloodshed among people, instead, they hate the power of love and declare it a disease. As these dialogues from the book say "I hope one day we'll all see each other without these stupid labels and instead see each other for who we are. Starfolk” (Bandon 50). It also shows that being a Latoka, Web has to face a lot of backlashes and racial prejudices and the reader often hears him saying to Johnathan that he dislikes labels.
Johnathan seeks escape in music from the abuse of his alcoholic father and his queer nature. In an interview, the author of this book, James Brandon says that like David Bowie’s alternate ego, Ziggy’s messiah-like character who also happens to be queer helps the former through music (Writer Wednesday: Author Interview with James Brandon on Ziggy, Stardust and Me) . Johnathan’s sudden outbursts also remain significant as they describe his deteriorating mental state when he undergoes shock treatment since the process is painful for him. He often rejects Web and his presence around him because he has to live with two personalities to escape the judgment of his White dominating society in America. In an instance, he says to Web “I panic and push Web off. “Get off me, you queer!” explodes out of me. “You...you fairy. Get off of me” I yell this so loud, it causes another rip in the lake” and “I hate what I did. I hate what I am. The same thing that happened to me at the lake” (Brandon 60). His split personalities, often contradict one another because he grows up among straight men who think that queerness or gay pride is nothing because it is a psychological disease. Quite on the contrary, the LGBTQ community suffers the loss of their identity and their personality is linked to how they feel about their sexual orientation. It does not have to have a biological reason attached to it because queerness is not sickness.
The racial stereotypes faced by Web are still prevalent today because, in a White-dominated society, people of color have to face double standards more because of their race and their sexuality. The author, Brandon says that in America, natives disassociate themselves from queer individuals because according to his observation, their sense of identity is not defined since colonization (Luber 87). The idea of "two-spirit" mentioned in the book, tells the reader that such people have to heal within themselves while having full support from likeminded people. The idea of White and Black LGBTQ couple also point to the possible solution of developing harmony between these two races so that racial conflicts in America can be avoided.
Last but not least, discriminatory practices against the people of color are still prevalent in America because of its acute sense of Nationalism and superiority. Likewise, gay men and queer people find in both the White and Black communities cannot come out and keep one personality because they fear public and social judgment. Similarly, in the book, the author has tried to evoke empathy for the LGBTQ community because they need affectionate behavior and a sense of belongingness from people across them.
Luber, Steve. “The Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf: Simulacral Performance and the Deconstruction of Orientalism.” Theatre Survey 54.1 (2013): 87-106.
Brandon, James. Ziggy, Stardust and Me. Penguin Young Readers Group, 2019.
Reads, ~ Vicky Who. “Writer Wednesday: Author Interview with James Brandon on Ziggy, Stardust and Me.” Vicky Who Reads, 24 July 2019, https://vickywhoreads.wordpress.com/2019/07/24/writer-wednesday-author-interview-with-james-brandon-on-ziggy-stardust-and-me/.
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