Intersectionality 101. You can’t use one oppressive ideology to dismantle another oppressive ideology. It never works.
Yesterday on Twitter, some annoying homophobes started a trending topic with the hashtag #SignsYoSonIsGay. All types of incredibly bigoted statements were included, such as suggesting that if a son did not like football, he’s gay. How…stupid. Patriarchy, which is at the core of misogyny and homophobia (as the latter two are ultimately based on the hatred of whatever is considered “feminine”) is so narrowing and is based on so many limitations in thoughts and actions. Heterosexual men (and women) often don’t realize that in order to box in women’s behaviors, they have to box in their own. If someone decides X only exists for women, they’re also saying X doesn’t exist for men.
Many of the men who participated in the trending topic were Black. This excited some White LGBT people because unfortunately, since homophobia is painted by the media as a “Black problem” and not the world problem that it is, many Whites react much differently to Black homophobes than they do White homophobes. Some of them aren’t even aware of this; much of this is occurring at the implicit or subconscious level it seems (though some are specifically overt in reaction).
Some of them started calling these Black homophobes “illiterate.” But why are they “illiterate?” Because they used the word “yo” instead of “your” in the hashtag and some of the tweets were written in AAVE?
Whites have long called Black people “illiterate” for not speaking like Whites, whether or not Black people are in fact illiterate (if they actually were, they’d have a challenging time forming any words for tweets) or multilingual in that they use AAVE or code-switching. White privilege and semantic warfare have been a consistent problem in our society. A Black child who easily code switches is deemed to be stupid. A Black employee who speaks to another Black employee in AAVE is suspect in a corporate office and is often deemed unprofessional. Add in the factor of classism as well (as I’ve noticed many White LGBT people of a higher socioeconomic class act markedly different to homophobic people who are poor or Black versus wealthy or White).
You cannot fight homophobia with racism. And sadly, racism is often the first line of defense that some White LGBT people go to when confronted by Black homophobes. Or worse, they go to the “well you were oppressed by Whites, so you should automatically know better than to be homophobic.” This ignores the role of historically forced religion (that is homophobic by design; not to say that homophobia does not pre-date colonialism and slavery) on Black people, how White supremacy has created this narrow space for Black masculinity that creates a narrow sliver for Black manhood (performed as patriarchal masculinity) that often requires sexism, misogyny, and homophobia as core components and that ultimately, Black people are HUMAN, not superhuman all-knowing gods and goddesses that are somehow superior to being as bigoted as other humans can be. Add this to a culture in America (and this would INCLUDE White Americans…ones often let off the hook for their blatant homophobia) that is still very homophobic and slowly progressing forward and Black homophobic people still fit into the general American tapestry.
The worst part of all is that when White LGBT people expect nothing of White heterosexuals and everything of Black heterosexuals, they’re confirming that White people are helplessly bigoted and nothing will ever change about them. I don’t think many White LGBT people realize this.
In the past, I mentioned that Tracy Morgan said bigoted things that many people agree with. In fact, from what I read, his audience at the event in question, when last year he mentioned he would kill a gay son, were primarily White people…who laughed at the jokes. Morgan was blasted. Nothing was made of his audience. I then tweeted more—that I did not agree with Morgan at all, but folks must walk a careful line when they try to write off homophobia as specifically a “Black problem.” Though this is one of CNN’s hobbies, it does not paint the true picture of what homophobia is in America or the world. Some White, cis gender gay men started attacking me based on the first tweet. The first thing they assumed is that I am religious (laughable) and homophobic because my avatar is of a Black woman…and they said this. I advised them to look at my entire stream for context, versus resorting to racism to fight presumed homophobia.
Also, what happens when White LGBT people are racist? How do they rectify this with the fact that many LGBT people ARE NOT WHITE?
I too was disgusted by this bigoted and hateful trending topic! These same Black men (and others….it wasn’t only them) who participated will easily move back to bashing Black women tomorrow. Black women are bashed as a trending topic of some sort more than any other group. Spend only a month on Twitter and anyone can see this. In fact, only a week ago I participated in a trending topic called #thingsblackwomensay and filled it with powerful quotes from amazing Black women who are living and my foremothers to counterbalance the misogynoir that topic was filled with—just stereotypes and hatred. People thanked me for this and are still retweeting and favoriting some of those quotes.
I am not here for these people’s homophobia or misogynoir. But ultimately, running to racism as a fix it for homophobia will never work. People will remained more divided, suspicious and hateful. Ultimately, oppressive ideologies and actions based on patriarchy, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism, and sizeism etc. have to be unpacked, deconstructed and challenged, daily. No version of hatred fixes an existing version of hatred. Dirt is never used to clean dirt.