The number one problem with white gay men is that they love to make things about themselves. They absolutely love having sex with themselves. They love posting pics on Instagram of themselves at parties on boats with mostly other white gay men, though there might perhaps be one token P.o.C chillin’ in the backdrop. They love kicking brown gays out of gay and expensive neighborhoods and they love casting themselves in all the porn flicks and gay-themed television shows.
At some point you have to ask: doesn’t all that whiteness get a little boring?
This was, for me, the underlying point of University of Mississippi senior Sierra Mannie’s fire burning article “Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture”, syndicated yesterday by TIME. If you haven’t read it yet DO SO NOW, if only to witness some next level shade-throwing. My wig fell off after reading the piece and she wasn’t even coming for me.
I need some of you to cut it the hell out. Maybe, for some of you, it’s a presumed mutual appreciation for Beyoncé and weaves that has you thinking that I’m going to be amused by you approaching me in your best “Shanequa from around the way” voice.I don’t know. What I do know is that I don’t care how well you can quote Madea, who told you that your booty was getting bigger than hers, how cute you think it is to call yourself a strong black woman,who taught you to twerk, how funny you think it is to call yourself Quita or Keisha or for which black male you’ve been bottoming [NOTE: THIS BIT LEFT ME LITERALLY GASPING FOR AIR]— you are not a black woman, and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood. It is not yours. It is not for you.
That’s just the first paragraph.
The basic argument of Mannie’s article is that white men, gay or not, get to have everything. Black people can never have anything, and black women especially sit at the bottom of the totem pole. (How low, exactly? They get violently arrested for jaywalking.)
This isn’t to say that white gay men aren’t oppressed or aren’t impoverished or don’t have health issues or are never beaten up or attacked for being gay or that they should feel guilty for being white. But it is to say that black women can’t hide their blackness or their femaleness in the same way that a white gay man could choose to hide his homosexuality. Black women, Mannie writes, “cannot hide their blackness and womanhood to protect themselves the way that you can hide your homosexuality. We have no place to hide, or means to do it even if we desired them.”
The article has already caused some debate online and on Facebook, primarily by white gay men feeling butt hurt that they got
completely scalped told about themselves. Yes, America is a melting pot. Yes, everybody should love everybody. Yes, separatism is bad, and no one should be belittled for being who they are.
But she’s not writing about people being who they are. She’s writing about an incredibly specific phenomenon — and probably from personal experience — where white gay men will uncritically say things like “lol I have a black woman inside of me” or where they otherwise step up and talk to black women in a “black girl” voice, ask to touch their hair, or otherwise treat them as toys and objects rather than people.
The truth is that blackness is amazing. It’s indefatigable, creative, colorful, seductive. But I’m willing to bet that the same white gay men who love demonstrating their “inner Quita” or “Shanequa” and who pat down their invisible weaves are the same guys who are lobbying to eject young black gay men (who are just hanging out) from the residential gay areas of Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. They’re the same gay men who say things like “black guys are for fucking, not for dating :p” — a real thing a white gay said to me once.
I don’t necessarily have a problem with people appropriating cultures because in a postmodern culture pretty much everything is poached from someplace else anyway. But it is definitely time for us gays to have a deeper conversation about the many and various ways racism works within our communities, and the caricaturization of black female culture is a great starting point.