by: C. Kendrick
In a socio-political climate where queer-centric issues such as peer bullying, teen suicide, and marriage equality remain firmly planted in the nation’s headlines, a Cleveland-based DJ has now joined the growing ranks of (conspicuously male) local and global celebrities who publicly suggest violence and sexual assault as a “solution” to homosexuality or perceived homosexuality.
Dominic Dieter, of WMMS’ “Rover’s Morning Glory,” quoted himself on air as suggesting to the inquiring father of a possibly-lesbian teenage daughter, “You should get one of your friends to screw your daughter straight.” Dieter’s grossly inappropriate and harmful message was disseminated over the airwaves to scores of listeners, with the assumed intent to silence and instill fear into those who fit his purview of who is, altogether, female, young, and, particularly, queer.
This type of freighted language tends to polarize the masses and fuel mob mentalities – particularly in conventional, hyper-masculinized environments. Because it was the daughter’s father – and not say, a mother – who asked the DJ for advice, perhaps Dieter saw a green light to take such a sexually violent, pedophilic stance on the subject.
According to Director of News and Field Media, Aaron McQuade, of GLAAD:
“While many might find it ridiculous to suggest that one could rape a young woman who is gay and turn her straight, this is not an uncommon occurrence in many parts of the world, and is in fact referred to as “corrective rape”. It is horrifying that this occurs anywhere, and it is reprehensible that Dieter told this man’s daughter that it should happen to her.”
Although Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) promptly denounced Dieter for his comments, what followed was a carefully scripted apology from the DJ, noting his casual mockery of sexual assault; however, he did not touch on his earlier comment of “turning” the teenager straight. Essentially, Dieter had ultimately erased a part of her identity as a person who is queer.
Who is young. Who has feelings. Who may be struggling to come out. Who may have heard the radio show that morning. Who may wonder if her father would actually take the advice. Who may be contemplating suicide.
In erasing the teenager’s queerness, Dieter can comfortably confront an issue that he may view as more “palatable” to his fan base; an issue that he may believe primarily affects women who are assumed to be heterosexual and physically or sexually attacked by men – rape. By extension, because Dieter is (presumably) a straight man, he can now assert that he does not support sexual assault, despite his earlier comments. But what Dieter does not do, is address or associate the link he created with lesbianism, sexual assault, and pedophilia by suggesting statutory rape for a teenager with a budding queer identity.
Dieter’s vile statement also points to the mythical notion that all a lesbian needs is a man – in this case, one of her father’s friends – to get her “on the track to normalcy.” But not only did he take that myth further by underscoring it with sexual violence, he used it as a simultaneous attack on her queer identity and on her youth – the latter indicating a position which often lacks a voice due to both legal status and parental control.
The collective homophobic power that the likes comedian Tracy Morgan, Pastor Sean Harris, and DJ Dominic Dieter hold is troubling, since they exert their position as one of entitlement and the right to encourage violence at the intersection of youth and queer communities. Instead of critically thinking about the deep psychological or emotional ramifications that their commentary might spark – or attempting to deconstruct these issues in a compassionate, sensitive way – these influential figures retreat to the very behavior that feminist, queer and youth collectives are striving to eliminate in schools and other peer-shared spaces across the country.
It appears that WMMS’ “Rover’s Morning Glory” has committed to take steps in treating this matter seriously, including the airing of a series of public service announcements on parental rejection and providing safe spaces for LGBTQ youth, as well as inviting Equality Ohio to join its community advisory board.
Unfortunately, comments like Dieter’s have already hit the airwaves. Perhaps preventative (vs. reactionary) initiatives should be strived for, in order to keep damaging, disgusting rhetoric from hurting queer youth and their families.
C. Kendrick is an aspiring writer, living and loving in the Carolinas. A dancer by night, she advocates for queer rights, food justice, and racial equity in her local community. She considers herself a gay male-identified lesbian, and has a secret crush on Noah’s Arc actor Darryl Stephens.