Aug 11, 2009

Racism and the Perceived Immunity of the Gay Community

HRC has decided to host a webchat addressing issues of race and racism within the Gay Community. *GASP* You mean gay people have the capability of being consumed with the same racist ideologies as their heterosexual bretheren? Of course they do... and in some cases they are WORSE than there hetero sexual bretheren. Take this letter to the editor of the Washington Blade for example in response to a qestion about if this country would ever get an openly gay Supreme Court nominee,

One of your readers said the country was run by “old white men” — but just where is the proof of that? We have a black president, a black attorney general, a female secretary of state and many cabinet chiefs or senior posts are filled by non-white males. Whites are now the minority in four states, including California.

In 20 years,17 states will be minority white. Most big city mayors are non-white male. As a gay male, even I know that those so-called “old white men”(read:straight) have passed many laws that have benefited minority groups. Ask yourself, can you honestly see a Supreme Court totally black, female and Hispanic? I shudder at the thought. What’s next? A chairman of the Joint Chiefs bringing his sheep to work? A few cross-dressing senators on the floor filibustering? A group of drag queen representatives in the House? A blind 747 pilot? A deaf music critic? Lifeguards who cannot swim? Why not, isn’t it their human/civil right? Just how far will the envelope be pushed before we implode?

As far as your reader who worried about “old white men,” he does not have to worry for long. The last real generation of whites are lying beneath the sands of Iwo Jima and Normandy. Now, most are pink with yellow stripes running down their backs.  Rome tried multiculturalism and look what happened to them. It’s only a matter of time. I would prefer straight whites making command decisions. Heaven help this country if we don’t.

Now, to this reader's credit I can understand his point about the ever increasing inclusiveness of the gay community. How many other letters will be used to ensure that every person who simply identifies themself as an abberation to the accepted social norm will we allow to be recognized? However, the reader's racism begins to rear its ugly head and all of his points disintegrate into a tirade that exposes his racial prejudices, heteronormative bias, AND - dare I say it, internalized homophobia )for which blacks gays are VILLIFIED in both mainstream and gay media)!

The following information can be deduced from the reader's letter:
  • He must have failed history because he completely ignored the preceding 389 years or so of systemic racial segregation, deprivation of equality, and legalized discrimination.
  • He assumes that one election of the FIRST black president in the 230-year history of the United States had more to do with timing than the influence of what I previously mentioned
  • He assumes that ONLY whites, particularly white men possess the temperament to make good decisions (dissmissing the fact that whites DECIDED to institutionalize the items mentioned in the first bullet)
  • He assumes that the playing field has been leveled by white men's "passage of laws that have benefitted minorities", while ignoring the fact that they selectively chose to ingore enforcing those laws - after all, how fast does one move when they are desegregating at "full deliberate speed"?
  • He feels entitled to the USA being his and whites' ALONE. No other people born in this country are as AUTHENTIC as the whites "beneath the sands of Iwo Jima and Normandy" (a POV commonly expressed by whites at McCain and Palin POTUS campaign rallies. More recently from the whites who comprise the BIRTHERS movement)
The rest is just too crazy to even put any thought into, but he definitely hates the fact the he's GAY.

I sincerely wish I could say that this letter represents an extreme POV on behalf of members of what is considered the mainstream gay community, but it doesn't. In fact, if you look at historical accounts of the Gay Rights Movement you'd be hard pressed to find any significant mention of the Black and Puerto Rican drag queens who were tired of being harrassed by the NYPD and decided to fight back by hurling whatever they could get their hands on at the officers.

When people think of the term "Gay" seldom do they think of the banjee boys made popular by James Earl Hardy, the Butch Queens Voguing in "Paris is Burning" or the hundreds of transgenders who compete in the Ms. Thailand pageant. No, the first image of what gay is that comes to mind is a well-dressed, witty, shallow, white male with a rich, bitch type female friend who lives in NYC, has no real profession of his own, but can afford to live in Manhattan in a FABULOUS apartment.

With gays who are a little less shallow and somewhat educated, Gay means a handsome gentleman who is typically white, professional, owns a remodeled home that he may or my not have completed himself, may be partnered, considering adoption, but DEFINITELY owns a dog or a cat. Again, you seldom see an image of gay that INCLUDES any person OTHER than a white male. Even if the image is female, she typically has taken on a gender specific look that isn't neutral. Gay - typically means white and male.

Look at the leadership of the HRC, GLAAD, and the NGLTF. The leadership is typically top heavy with white males. Ask yourself, was the National Black justice coalition and its predercessor the National Black Gay and Lesbian Ledership Forum formed out of necessity or opportunity? While HRC's National Conversation is a good idea in theory, I am not sure how effective it will be at reaching the people who need to be heard the most.

This post will be in TWO Parts.