What’s up, my people. Hope you guys got a chance to check out my little break down about The Red Dress Run several days ago.
I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to take on this next part of NOLA living that also, somehow, doesn’t seem to get very much attention in the Big Easy, life in the gay community…namely, life for brown folks in the gay community. So, uh, strap in, and let’s go for it yo.
Since recently relocating to Palm Springs Cali, a lot of people ask what it was like to be a member of the gay community in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the country; and it got me thinking, I don’t really know. I haven’t gotten my membership card back since I quit doing drag. It feels like I’ve had a visitor’s pass ever since I stopped wearing makeup.
What I discovered when I took my wigs off, is that there isn’t much room for black men in the gay community outside of that role in that beautiful 12×12 radius. The Big Easy Gayborhood is a reflection of NOLA’s favorite pastime, pretending she’s not racist.
For beyond the confines of drag queen-dom, black men find themselves blessed with yet another box the gays have placed us in, fetishism. BBC. Big Black Cock. Mandingo. Dat D. Plenty-O-Meat. Sincerely having to explain to countless men that, no, I’m not a dominant, aggressive top, nor do all of us have a 13 inch penis. Let me elaborate, during my short time on this Earth, I have been both the drag queen and the black dude with muscles. And let me tell you brothers and sisters, it’s a real toss up between which one involves more fuckery. For both have one tiny thing in common….I was black as fuck while participating in both constructs. And these two social mechanisms are constantly handed down to black brothers in the big easy.
You may be wondering why all of this is relevant, by now you’re probably rolling your eyes going, “why does every mother fucking thing have be about race?” The answer? Because it is. American society is literally designed to make everything about race. Black folks didn’t make that decision, the Founding Fathers did. It is also designed to make well-meaning white folks blind to this fact, and in turn, spend a large majority of their time trying to ignore or disprove it. But. Before I lose y’all, I digress.
The argument in New Orleans is often…(wait…let me pause…when the issue is actually acknowledged by the gays)…well, where are the black people? Fair question. This epidemic of non-black participation in the gay community stems from the wild amounts of colorism and racism that runs rampant in the rainbow parts of the big easy.
I’m sure you’re shouting at your screens saying, “I’m not racist just because I don’t find black dudes attractive!” Nah. Let me stop you, brother. It does. “Colorism is a close cousin of racial prejudice, and like racial prejudice it is closely linked with the urge to obtain and keep power over others” (Jennifer Hochschild, Professor of Government, Harvard University – The Skin Color Paradox) What does this brilliant quote mean? If a dominant majority of a community doesn’t find an entire race of people aesthetically appealing, that feeling will manifest itself in a myriad of ways in said community. And what does that mean? Like straight culture, everything in the gay big easy is white washed…like hardcore yo.
Just look at Southern Decadence, one the biggest gay celebrations in the country, which takes places in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the country, is nearly all white. This is evident, yet again, in even the promotion of Southern Decadence and observation of the celebration. White drag queens, white local favorites, white go-go boys, Britney Spears blasting on every corner, white tourists, C-list white celebrities, Dolly Parton impersonators, and finally, Deborah Cox — So everyone can marvel at black culture, appropriate it, and then send those who create it on their way. (Yells, “Gurrrrrlllll” and smacks invisible weave)
-Slight side bar: The gay community owes a large debt of gratitude to black culture, namely, black women. Like a whole lot. But. That’s a subject for another post, sistas.-
So, when you factor in all these constructs and idiosyncrasies, you get your answer. Black men have never really felt invited to the party, so we stopped coming, and for those that do make their way to the party, we find ourselves in those two constructs. Drag queen or the dude with a big dick. And my drag queen sisters at least to get have a personality, in a rather limiting form, but there’s opportunity to assert your person-hood. Big dick man stands in the back watching the show until a grossly misinformed white brother walks up on him inquiring about said dick size.
Every time I try to bring this all home for you guys, another point reveals itself to me.
My gays. Don’t be angry with this assessment and observation. Let’s talk about how it got this way, and let’s move forward to correct it yo.
Sylvia Rivera warned us against becoming a movement of only white, middle class people 41 years ago; and today, so many of the ways in which LGBT equality has played out, has been about white, middle class men. -if you don’t know who Sylvia Rivera is, Google her…today-
“While the freedom to marry whomever we choose is a fundamental and monumental victory, the most marginalized of our community are still struggling”…this brilliant point was made by our girl Laverne Cox.
Even during the height of the movement in the 70s, when Harvey Milk was leading a large majority of the conversations about equality, a large majority of his platform stood on appealing to his white, middle class counterparts. The ole “we’re just like you” argument. This is not to take away from the amazing work that Harvey Milk did in anyway whatsoever, he changed the world for all of us. However, brown people were never a focal point of the movement, and that fact has manifested itself in every way possible with the development of the gay community ever since, not just NOLA, but with the development of the community nation wide.
Listen, this gonna be harsh, but, “The dirty little secret about the homosexual population is that white, gay people are just as racist as white, straight people.” (Keith Boykin, Writer – For Colored Boys)
Listen y’all, while I obviously can’t speak for an entire race, not my own, and most certainly not any others. I challenge and implore you to ask your other brown sisters about their experiences. Gay, black men are not the only men singing this song. Do your research, sistas. Asians, Latinos, Arabs, Hispanics, pretty much any brown person you can think of; has, will, and can attest to feeling and experiencing racism, colorism, and stereotyping in the gay community.
Let me be clearer, this isn’t a rant about white men not finding me attractive or white men not wanting to date me. This is about white culture, yet again, asserting its dominance and power in what is suppose to be a cornucopia of inclusion and acceptance. Those of us that do not see ourselves as part of the LGBT community, see it to be a white community with white experiences. Because gay, black men face racism in the LGBT community and alienation in the black community, this means the only support structures that speak to our perspectives, continue to alienate us.
I am not angry with any particular individual or any individual action. I am simply calling into question the structure of the entire community. Basically guys, those of us who feel excluded, should not settle for our marginal inclusion. But. Call on our white sisters to examine this structure with us.
I just think brothers are just a bit tired of shopping for outfits to wear to a party we never knew we were never invited to.
Sisters. Let’s talk about it.
#itsbeenlongtimecoming #butourchangewillcome #wearenotalone #nola #letssetthecurve
#tobecontinued #improbgonnarunformayor #wakeup #staywoke #getthecoffee #wegotworktodoCelie #itmaybebig #butitainteasy