USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘homosexual’
Adulthood
Humor

Haitian AIDS/HIV Medicine Joke

“So, back when I was doing HIV work I used to hear this joke all the time from my gay patients. It would go something like, ‘What’s the hardest part about having HIV?’ and the gay guy would say, ‘Convincing my mom I had sex with a Haitian. *laughing* ”

Context: This joke was performed at a dinner party whose guests were primarily family, with the informant being the father of the collector. The joke was said midway into dinner while the guests and informant had been drinking wine.

Informant Analysis: The doctor who said this joke had done much work during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s and 90’s. At the time, it was more of a secret for men to be gay since it was largely deemed “deplorable” by the average American. Today, this sort of anti-gay rhetoric has decreased. Many of the doctor’s patients were gay, had HIV, but also had a wife and children. They kept their sexual orientation hidden to their families and friends. However, when the HIV epidemic began to ravage America’s gay population, it was often difficult to hide the fact that you were gay since getting AIDS was considered a sign. Along with being gay being a sign of having AIDS, it was also common belief that Haitians also had it since there was and still is a high percentage of HIV positive people in Haiti.

Collector Analysis: The joke seems to play on the taboo topic of  coming out as gay to one’s mother. It seems to show that, especially during the 80’s, being considered gay was completely out of the question for many homosexual males. Instead of coming out as gay after being diagnosed with AIDS, the patient would rather say they got it from sex with a Haitian. The joke itself hinges on the fact that the highest percentage of HIV is found in homosexuals and Haitians. The humor also makes light of a situation which, especially during the 80’s, was considered a death sentence. Medical humor, including this joke, often contains this sort of dark humor to try to lessen the pain involved with such terrible situations.

Folk Beliefs
Magic
Narrative
Tales /märchen

Old Wives Tale on Homosexuality

My informant is the mother of a USC student. She is an immigrant from Cameroon and came to America with her husband and son before giving birth to their daughter.

 

“As a child I knew nothing about homosexuality…but there was an old wives tale I was told that, if a woman was raped by another woman, it would render the victim barren. The victim would usually dream about the encounter and the perpetrator would be confronted by village elders and be chastised.”

 

Analysis: Cameroon is a country that has deeply rooted beliefs and traditions, among these is the belief that people should not engage in relations with someone of the same sex. The importance that is placed on women to be child bearers and bring about heirs is part of the reason that there is so much stigma placed upon same-sex relations. Barrenness would be an ultimate punishment for a woman because her utmost purpose within that society is to give birth to a male heir. This belief further sets the societal framework for Cameroon and Cameroonian culture by making it very clear that homosexuality is not tolerated in society or by nature (as the female victim would mysteriously become barren after the rape).

 

[geolocation]