I will try to be brief, because this does not require extended
discussion. I could go into all the issues surrounding cultural
appropriation (mainly of black culture) among many in the LGBT
community, but that's not my tribe and therefore, it's not my place.
However, there is one thing that I feel a need to address, and it's
something that seems to be on the increase. It's this baffling,
false equivalence of sexuality with race, and most especially,
*Blackness*, and more and more I'm beginning to feel it's not
always a mistake. To cut to the chase, I think I know why some of it is happening. Being
part of a socially dominant group sucks, and it's tempting to seek a
way to prove you're different.
How do I know this?
I'm a man.
I'm active on social media.
It feels at times (in a broad sense) like nobody likes you. Everything
"Men do this."
"Men do that."
"Men treat me like..."
"Men don't know how to..."
"Men said this bad thing."
"Men never do this good thing."
"Men, Men, Men, Men, Men... Men are bad!"
Now, swap "Men" for "White people."
"White people do this."
"White people do that."
"White people treat me like..."
"White people don't know how to..."
"White people said this bad thing."
"White people never do this good thing."
"White people, White people, White people, White people, White people... White people are bad!"
Don't lie: that makes you want to run and hide, doesn't it?
At the least, it makes you uncomfortable. Oh, I know, you're one of those white people aren't you? You've done all your anti-racist homework and you never feel even the least bit uncomfortable when this subject comes up...
On a serious note, no one likes to be the villain of the story; even a sociopath would generally hate to be thought of as being exactly what they are. When you're confronted with such negative feelings, and they hit so close to home, it's only natural to seek a method of absolution. If you can't prove that you're "not one of them", at least it would be nice to have a way to say: "Well, that can't be me, I'm different!" wouldn't it? In a climate where sexuality and issues surrounding it are on everyone's lips, what better way to escape the bane of complicity than by identifying yourself as different, and therefore special?
How many times have you heard, read, or said, something along the lines of:
Let me tell you, hell hath no fury like a professing "liberal/progressive" white man whose high horse has been sliced at the knees. Forget Karen, Becky, Chad, and Steve. Blaise won't take your foolishness, namely you having the rank audacity of calling him out on his foolishness. Whew!!! How dare you?
BTW, did I mention he ended up calling me a bigot? Yeah. That happened. All because I asked him not equate to things that don't equate.
And they don't.
Like it or not, there's a gulf of difference between these two issues. Sexuality isn't like some pin that you wear. Without the involvement of some kind of actionable choice, there is no way that you can be identified as anything, even "straight", just by looking at you. We (black people) don't have a choice. Like it or not, we're born with a label. We can't take it off, and if we try, it can cost us our lives.
In the incident I mentioned earlier, I was angrily told "I can't even walk down the street holding my partner's hand!" - a complaint unknowingly dripping with entitlement. If I know me well enough, my response was probably akin to "Then don't!", which, I admit, is not the nicest or maybe the wisest answer, but you can probably understand where I would've been coming from. There's a certain, refined ignorance behind the tendency for many white LGBT (especially politically liberal/progressive) folks who weaponize their own sexuality and almost seem to use it as a wedge with which to pry open spaces that do not belong to them, or to demand sympathy and attention where it isn't necessary, or to claim solidarity with Black people when it's convenient — only to abandon us later when it serves them.
It would be dishonest of me to claim that it doesn't make me angry at times. Okay, all the time, and it never won't. If you can't understand where I'm coming from, picture this:
Sure, I do get racist comments all the time. That sucks. But, it has nothing to do with the situation. The two are not equivalant. In bringing up my valid, but separate issue with racism, I've inadvertently shifted attention away from her issues with sexism and harassment, and made the focus switch to me. Even if I don't consciously, intentionally do so, I'm padding my own seat: making myself feel better about someone else's discomfort.
It's an expression of fragility.
Have I ever done something like this? Absolutely. Even recently, in fact. I'm not saying what I'm saying because I think I'm perfect. I've made this similar mistakes many times, and I'm likely to make more in the future. After all, navigating this maze called life is a challenge. The key is to learn to consider what message we're sending to others with our words, before (and sometimes after) we release them.
If you're white, and you see yet another instance of white supremacy on display, is that time to score more "woke points" or show how "special" you are? Or is it time to slow down, reflect, and see where you can learn from it? Are you really helping by announcing that you, too, face some form of discrimination? Or are you simply trying to pad your own seat, so you don't feel the thumb tacks at the bottom of it?
Does your sexuality really shield you from being racist? Or does seeing yourself as an outlier from the 'in-group' simply serve your selfish desire to feel "less white", less complicit, and less "problematic"? If you were of another sexuality, would that automatically cause you to be more willing to listen? Would your listening to us be more sincere? Or would only convince yourself that is the case, because it makes you feel less implicated in the system of "whiteness?"
Finally, to those who say things like "I would probably have opened by eyes sooner if I was a POC, Jewish, or LGBT!" would you really? Or were your eyes only closed this long because up until now, you've had the freedom to be comfortable?
Don't answer me. Think about that.