Living in the Shadows: A Stoic Response to Gay Dilemma

by Cleland, William V., M.H., TIFFIN UNIVERSITY, 2010, 49 pages; 1487669


The purpose of this project is twofold: first, to expose the many ways in which gay Americans have been oppressed by their own culture and society, and the problems that have arisen in the gay community as a result of that oppression; second, to explore ways that gay people can heal themselves and move forward to a more complete and fulfilling existence. The topics covered include philosophy, religion, education, popular culture and media.

My thesis examines the role of religious institutions in the oppression of gay America. It reveals the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church where gays are concerned, as well as the brutal assault on gay rights from Evangelicals. The Bible is often the preferred weapon of today's homophobes, and so I consider how Scripture has been cruelly twisted by conservative Christians using Biblical scholarship by John Boswell and Daniel Helminiak and explore how misuse of the Bible has inflicted enormous damage and suffering on so many gay citizens and continues to shore up prejudice and hatred.

In addition, my thesis looks at the outcomes of institutional oppression on the gay community. The rejection by family, church, and state for generations caused gays to withdraw into hedonistic seclusion and a lifestyle of drug abuse, alcoholism, and promiscuity. I examine issues from the AIDS crisis to conspicuous consumption and gay culture.

Moreover, my thesis pays careful attention to the issue of heterosexual privilege, focusing in particular on how straight males have used their advantage in school, government, and political institutions to oppress both gays and women. The intention of this study is not to offend but to elucidate the cultural and psychological forces that shape the heterosexist climate in America.

The careers and lives of four prominent American women will also be reviewed in the context of their own personal struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, ageism, sexism, and racism. Their contributions to gay culture-often inadvertent-have inspired homosexual men to overcome their own personal struggles with many of the same issues. The careers of Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and Mahalia Jackson will all be considered along with their impact on gay life and culture.

In conclusion, the intention of the thesis is to help bring all people together into a human understanding and mutual respect. Seneca covers a broad range of topics in his epistles and moral essays, and his writings have often been viewed by academics and theologians as a kind of secular bible, something designed to provide comfort and inspiration, as well as guidance and wisdom. The thesis attempts to demonstrate how his wisdom can benefit gay people in modern America.

AdviserColleen Vallo
Source TypeThesis
SubjectsPhilosophy; LGBTQ studies; Spirituality
Publication Number1487669

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