COMMENT: Is The Gay Community Its Own Worst Enemy?
Last year I wrote an article for this divine publication about the gay movement eating itself from the inside out.
It was in response to a comment from RuPaul, in which she made that exact statement after the term ‘she-mail’ was dropped from the Drag Race television show. Almost 18 months later I still agree with RuPaul; perhaps even more so now than I did then. That’s because recently I’ve found myself becoming victim to an increasing amount of abuse… not from homophobes, but from other gay people.
Locally I do a lot of work with and for the gay community. This has led to a certain level of interest in the work I do and made me the go to person whenever an organisation or the local media wish to discuss a gay-related topic. I’ve never claimed or wanted to be a spokesperson for the gay community, but at the same time whenever I do give an interview or have a meeting, I’m keen to get across points that gay people have made to me rather than simply putting my own point of view across. It’s something that has ran pretty smoothly until the tide appeared to change several months ago.
There was a bit of controversy surrounding the Coventry Pride festival earlier in the year. I had been organising it, but decided to step down from that position over a disagreement with the venue, who I perceived to be in it for the money and exposure rather than for the community. With money and influence on their side, the venue went on a spin campaign that absolutely trashed my reputation. It was then that negativity from people within the gay community began. I was subjected to threats of violence, death wishes, slurs about my appearance, and general Dan-bashing. It led to me having to log off social media for several days until things started to die down.
That experience got me thinking again about how the gay community can sometimes be its own worst enemy. There I was doing what I thought was something positive for the community, only to have people jumping on the bandwagon to troll me. I resolved to ignore ‘the haters’ as I thought the truth of the situation was all I needed. Besides, if you start to respond to trolls it just feeds them, right? I anticipated that the trolling wouldn’t last as people would get bored and move on to something else. How wrong I was.
Back in September, there was a horrific attack on a gay man in Leamington Spa. A number of people from an outraged community asked me to do something about it as we could all see that violent crimes against gay people were becoming more common locally. So I set about an awareness raising campaign and organised the Leamington Spa Equality Rally, which took place at the beginning of October. As part of the campaign, I gave interviews to local press, as well as holding meetings with the Police to discuss increased support for the community. As the press reports began to surface, I started to receive abusive comments again. What shocked me was that it wasn’t from homophobes, but from gay people. I was called all sorts of names, and it was claimed that I was making the violent incidents up as a form of self-promotion. I let it go as frankly I had more important things to think about, but at the same time felt a sense of disappointment that so many gay people appear to turn on each other so easily. Where was the sense of community and togetherness going? Does the hatred come from their own self-loathing or is it jealousy?
After a couple of weeks free from being trolled, it has flared up again recently. This time it’s due to an article that a local newspaper ran based on one of my tweet sabout the LGBTQ charity I run not doing too badly considering I was told by a local councillor that there are no gay people in Warwickshire. It’s a very old story and I thought it was common knowledge. However after a sensationalised article locally, the story was picked up by national gay publications. They began running the story of how I had made this revelation, despite the fact I hadn’t revealed anything or even spoken to those publications. As the comments from gay people started, they ranged from the amusing to the abusive. For some, it became less about the article and the issues we face as a community, as more comments about my appearance surfaced, with some gay people basically saying I’m a minger.
Whether I’m a minger or not, the thing that concerns me the most is how the gay community appears to be fracturing. I’ve detailed some of my personal experiences here, but I’m sure we’ve all seen profiles online that state “no fats, no fems, no blacks, no Asians”. There’s even one person on Grindr who states he is looking for “beef, not mince”. The reality is that we are now in a position where it’s seemingly ok to ridicule and discriminate against our own kind rather than stick together. I now find myself questioning whether the ‘gay community’ actually exists or whether it’s a thing of the past.
With hate crime on the rise and equality still to fight for, particularly in a social context, I don’t see that in-fighting and discrimination within the gay community does anything to further our cause. It worries me that so many gay people would rather abuse and ridicule their own kind than come out in support of the issues that are being highlighted or in support of each other as a minority. We’re no longer the family we once were.
So what’s the solution? Unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers, but it’s clear to me that trolling, racism, body shaming and ridicule are becoming increasingly prevalent within the gay community. Surely we’re better than that.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.