On the surface, the term “White Gay” may not strike a chord of recognition. But it’s an issue that is becoming insidious and problematic within some areas the community.
I’m hoping that after the explanation, people do continue reading because this is an issue that needs to be discussed and understood. So what does “White Gay” actually mean?
It’s the notion that within the community there is a simmering underbelly of racial/societal ignorance. Now I dislike the term white privilege because as soon as that phrase is mentioned, there is an instant backlash against anyone trying to point out, that society IS in general easier for someone who is white, tall and thin. It’s not an individual thing, obviously, there are tall, fit, white people out there who have a hard time. This is a generalised observation of how society views these white people and people of colour.
As a white person myself, I will never truly understand actual racism and I don’t pretend to know what any person of colour goes through on a daily basis. Jane Elliott conducted many experiments around racism, most famously The Blue-eyed/Brown-eyed experiment. She went about separating blue-eyed people away in a different group and treating them with contempt, while openly praising and helping the brown-eyed group. Reactions were mixed, and some people thought her experiments were nasty and pointless and only fueled the idea of racism. But she made very valid points regarding the fact that after the workshop, no matter how bad the white blue eyed people were treated, it would stop, people of colour don’t get that kind of break.
But I digress, how does this reflect on the LGBTQ+ community, surely we are all one harmonious group of rainbow love. Sadly this just isn’t the case. Recently there has been a contentious issue regarding adding a black and brown stripe to the rainbow flag to represent people of colour in the community. On the one side, there are people who feel these stripes should be added because those people the new stripes represent do feel marginalized within an already marginalized group. And on the other side are the people who feel the flag was never about race, the stripes represent different emotions, and feelings of the community and further segregating groups only feeds the fire of alienation.
The issue of the stripes also came into sharp focus in the community when drag queen Peggy Wessex shared a poster designed for her depicting the black and brown stripes being vomited up by a unicorn with the rainbow colours in the background and the tagline “taste THE rainbow.
There was of course defenders of Peggy saying she was a comedian and that banning comic things was just political correctness gone mad.
Is it racism, or is it simply ignorance of race? There is a huge difference between the two.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for nothing is sacred in comedy, but when it comes to taboo subjects, it all depends on how you construct the joke. This was poorly thought out and just wasn’t funny. It was deliberately designed to provoke a reaction. Peggy didn’t design the poster, but she endorsed it by sharing it and making comments such as “how it should be”.
Speaking to a friend of mine about the flag, he voiced worries of being seen as racist if he didn’t have the flag with the black and brown stripes on.
But he made an interesting point, as a white man, the stripes aren’t for him to decide upon, so the flag isn’t for him to wave.
Another point he made was that a lot of the arguments seemed to be between white people, he saw few people of colour voicing an opinion. Is this a symptom of trying to look “woke” and tolerant instead of actually just being nice to people as a normal behaviour? Does an overcompensation actually do more harm than good?
I can see both sides of the argument, the flag never represented race, but people of colour can feel like they aren’t fully a part of the community and want a valid representation of their identity.
Is it racism, or is it simply ignorance of race? There is a huge difference between the two. Ignorance of race is unpleasant, rude and stupid, Racism is dangerous, unlawful and pervasive. And it can start off small, with the idea of preference.
We’ve all heard people say “but it’s just my preference” about who they are attracted to and having a preference is fine no one is telling you to be attracted to someone you’re not, but one has to ask themselves, is it truly a preference, or is it ignorance of race? Outright dismissing or fetishizing someone based solely on race IS racism and it can be incredibly damaging. And some people are disturbingly open about it, putting on their dating profile their “preferences” usually in an incredibly disparaging way.
White Gay term doesn’t just cover race
But the White Gay term doesn’t just cover race, it covers a multitude of things, based on weight, height, amount of hair, gender identity & disability among other things. An easy dismissal of someone based on how they look. Small snide comments such as “You’d look good if you lost a few pounds”.
A look at someone in disgust, whispers and pointing/laughing. These things can really affect a person and while obviously as a society the first thing we see is appearance and an initial attraction is based on looks, that only goes so far. You can find an incredibly hot guy and he’ll turn out to be narcissistic, selfish and shallow. Personality can easily outshine any perceived flaws.
Differences should be acknowledged, and talked about in a positive way. A lot can be learned from other people’s experiences or heritage.
I have sadly heard stories of certain gay clubs (which shall remain nameless) actually refuse entry to someone based on how they look. No wonder there is self-segregation within the community. But self-segregation is just as damaging as outside segregation. Only sticking with your own group highlights the differences instead of everyone coming together and being supportive of each other. Differences should be acknowledged and talked about in a positive way. A lot can be learned from other people’s experiences or heritage.
The point of this piece isn’t to call anyone racist or shallow because not everyone is, it’s to bring light to an issue that is there and does have ramifications towards people.
I’m also very aware that any discussion from my point of view can be instantly shut down with the phrase “You’re a cisgendered white male, you’ll never understand” And no I won’t fully understand or appreciate everyone’s experiences, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t have a meaningful debate and discussion where we can learn from each other without any valid points being dismissed.
I live by two simple mantras, treat everyone how you’d like to be treated yourself, and learn something new every day, no matter how small. The more we learn, even from people we disagree with, the more we grow.
People are so quick to argue or take offence instead of actually talking, and figuring out why a reaction is had. Will this solve the issue? Far from it, but I’m hoping it at least opens up an important discussion.
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