Wednesday, November 18, 2009

If you think African Americans are "uniquely bigoted" politically, think again: SURPRISE--it's white boys

Two U.S. white male supremacist spokespeople. The top image (from here) is of the racist-misogynistic
gay activist Dan Savage. Bottom image (from here) is Rush Limbaugh,a racist, homophobic, misogynistic jerk, and a very powerfully influential one.

[This post was completely revised later on 18 Nov. 2009, ECD from the time it was initially posted.]

The following excepts are all from this webpage located at a white-dominated U.S. queer rights advocacy site the logo of which appears at the top of this post. "Free of an agenda, except that gay one" is their motto. I despise the term "gay" being used as a synonym for lesbian and gay, LGBT, or Queer, SGL, or Two Spirit; don't they mean that white male supremacist, anti-lesbian of color single gay agenda? Read on, and assess for yourself who they like to point at when passing out blame for white queer campaign failures due almost entirely to Christian white anti-"gay" opposition.

Prop 8 took away the M-word from gays and lesbians. Fingers started pointing, and not in very nice places. Race and religion were blamed. So, too, was the "No On 8" campaign, accused of misguided direction and ineffective outreach. [Note: that'd be "No On 1", but we'll forgive the occasion typo... I hope!]

But here's what happened over the past few weeks: Obama remained painfully silent when we needed him the most. Sure, his approval ratings are lower than they once were, but Obama retains an amazing ability to rally people to the polls. Had he maintained his "fierce advocate" status and called on Maine voters to defend our rights, we might not be looking at a four-to-five point losing margin. [...] So unimportant were our rights to the president, he supposedly didn't even watch the returns. We like to think Obama's stamp of approval could have moved the needle just a little bit. But we would've (almost) settled for him giving a damn, at least in private.

Comments (141)
No. 1 · SBK
Full blame goes to Obama. His support could have made up the difference. Gays must no longer stand for Obama, we must no longer support him. He takes us for granted. He loves our votes and even more, our money, but he won't spend a cent of his political capital for us. Not even for DADT which should have been repealed in January for the sake of national security! It's time for us gays to rebel against Obama. He is the coward in chief on gay rights.

As a U.S.-born and raised white gay man, I've taken note over the years how the U.S. white LBGT community hasn't dealt with its glaring racism. With national white heteromale-owned media coverage of the Prop 8 vote in California and the people's repeal of same-sex marriage law in Maine, some observations are in order. As noted by Renee below, white's homophobia is never a factor according to the media. When whites behave in a homophobic manner, it may be attributed to class and religion, not race. Whereas the supposedly rampant homophobia among various people of color--because they are people of color, in the Prop 8 coverage targeted and stigmatised "the African American vote"--without going into issues of religious affiliation and the influence of white heteromale supremacist Christianity on all of us.

Race, when not white, is always pointed to as "the" obstacle to queer liberation in the U.S. Note the lack of brown and black stripes in the symbolically queer rainbow flag. Related to this is the whole question of which queer people are we talking about here? For the media, it is always white ones; it is never queer people of color only or primarily. Assumptions are reinforced in the dominant Amerikkka mind that All the Black and Brown people are heterosexual, and All the Queers are white. The far more diverse concerns and political issues facing queer people of color have never been centralised and prioritised in the white heteromale supremacist U.S., certainly never by white politicians and media who rarely bother to take on Queer issues at all, let alone those of lesbians, gay men, SGL, and trans people of color.

If the dominant white pro-woman mind can only conceive of trans people as whites trying to gain access to majority white women's spaces and social services, the theory falls flat when discussing trans people of color, who are never centralised in the organisation of any white-dominant event, program, or service. I support woman-only spaces and services, but let's stop saying "those trannies" when who is being referred to is ONLY white post-op MtF (or FtM) transgendered people. Let's also not forget that of the institutionally powerful groups in the U.S., of the groups that do get some white media attention, queer and heterosexual people of color do not have clout or status or any ability to trump the views, agendas, and policies of whites, both heterosexual and queer.

Elsewhere on this blog I have posted about how the "gay" marriage agenda is racist. (The use of that term specifically is obviously invisibilising to trans and lesbian people as such.) To that we can add what follows in assessing who, really, has the bulk of the power in the U.S. My answer: heterosexist class-privileged Christian white men. To even imply that Christian African Americans are "the problem population" is spuriously racist and covertly misogynistic as well: Black women go to church more than Black men. Some lesbian Black and Brown women go to church too. So do gay Black and Brown men. So do some white lesbians and gay men. So any charges against "Christian African Americans" is really talking about the values of Black women. Apparently African American women are not only the reason why Black community here is struggling. White men have nothing to do with it, see? (See The Moynihan Report" for more.) Let's cut to the race chase: according to white heteromale media and politicians, the "problem people", the wasters of white taxpayer dollars, the cause of AIDS spreading to white heterosexual men, are always poor women of color, a group with the LEAST institutional power and ability to achieve political self-determination.

We can note in all of this how completely invisible Asian American, Arab American, and American Indian women are in any and all discussions about queer politics by the dominant media; usually Latina and Chicana women are as well. And some of them are Muslim, Jewish, non-affiliated religious people, and people who are keeping alive Indigenous spiritual traditions and religions. It's as if, upon reading this or similar critiques elsewhere, the dominant white media spokespeople might say, with utter shock and disbelief, "Wait! You mean that there are queer people among Native American, Arab American, and Asian American populations!?!'

Within this little world of radical profeminists and radical feminists--of color and white, U.S. or not, we can also note that, yes, there are devout Christians among us. My feminist womentor was Christian. She was a white radical anti-racist, anti-misogyny, civil rights and economic justice activist, and a lesbian. She also worshiped Goddesses and didn't usually go to church, but she was a Christian. With a significant nod to one of my dear friends here, there most certainly are devout Christian radical feminists, and I'm not talking only about people of color OR only about whites. As a new arrival to the community at A.R.P., Soulsis comments elsewhere on this blog another key element in the reason why Black women (lesbian or heterosexual) are continually targeted by just about everyone else with more structural power. Speaking here about white people's misperceptions and delusions of racial political inferiority, she notes that Black women are seen and reacted to by whites (particularly) as if they are politically powerful and privileged men. Reality check to those whites: not in any white-dominant patriarchy I'm aware of! But Soulsis hits the proverbial nail on the head with that call. And from there we'll move on and close this post out with another radical feminist woman's analysis.

What follows was written by Renee (thanks for this, Renee!) at her blog, Womanist Musings:

After same sex marriage got voted down in Maine, I expressed my sympathies and waited to see what the fall out would be. It seems that for many, the consensus is that the Catholic Church is to blame for the terrible outcome. You see, unlike California, Blacks comprise less than 1% of the population, so we could not be blamed on mass, though the community did manage to find one African American to blame.

I do realize that Obama has come down in favour of civil unions and not marriage but he did not cause the vote to restrict the rights of Gays and Lesbians. He is not God, he does not walk on water, nor can he control the minds of U.S. citizens enough to force them to vote in a specific direction on any issue. Keep blaming him though, if it makes you feel better.

What I would really like to know, is that since Maine is mostly a White state, where was the claim that White people are uniquely homophobic? When California revoked gay marriage, all you could hear for weeks is that it was the fault of ignorant homophobic Black people. How could we not recognize oppression, when we had suffered so much as a race? White GLBT members shook their heads at us and heaped scorn upon us as though we were responsible for them losing the ability to marry and in the process they erased same gender loving couples of color within their ranks. When Blacks tried to protest either in solidarity or because they were directly affected, racist vitriol was thrown at them. Well, we had nothing to do with this one. It was all White people and suddenly race is no longer an issue.

OOOh but there is no racism in the GLBT community. This is all about fighting oppression, so certainly their members must recognize racism when they see it right? Where was Dan Savage with a rant about how homophobic White people image are? Where was his statement claiming that he was done pretending that the homophobia of White people didn’t effect him personally in order to be politically correct? Did I miss him on CNN? Please explain to me why White people are not considered uniquely homophobic, when they vote repeatedly en masse against gay marriage? They not only vote against it, they actively organize and fundraise to ensure that a GLBT identity remains highly stigmatized. I guess racial membership has its privileges huh?

I expect to catch shit for this post because the one thing I have learned is that you can speak out in favour of gay marriage, talk about how damaging homophobia is and even encourage people to think about the heterosexist messages they are teaching their children, but if you are critical about a single thing, you are a homophobe. There is always some reason why you cannot ever question the motives, leaders or actions of the White LGBT community. If they did something wrong, it’s always straight people either did it first or straight people do it too.

I don’t think, nor will I ever believe that homophobia is correct but I am not about to support something that is harmful or demeans me as a person so that someone can feel equal. I know what the “just like you” meme means. The failure to discuss race when it is largely White people speaks volumes.

*     *     *

[Over at Racialicious, Renee added this comment to this discussion on the same topic, which can be found here:]

I believe that the “blacks are uniquely homophobic meme”, is largely peddled by white members (yes that means you Dan Savage) of the GLBT movement that refuse to own their undeserved privilege. When we examine the power structure in the US, clearly it is not blacks that are denying gay rights. We do not exist with the social power to do anything of the sort.

I also feel that it is pertinent to point out that many black leaders have spoken out in favor of gay rights and yet this is seldom acknowledged. The point is that these leaders are attempting to play the “just like you card”. They want sympathy from the white power structure by claiming that that GLB’s are being treated poorly because they are being treated like blacks, hence the gay is the new black meme. The unacknowledged racism in the community is disgusting.


  1. It really is ridiculous to say that black people are uniquely anything... they are not uniquely homophbic, they didn't contribute $8 million dollars in last minute funding for the YES on 8 campaign in California, the VERY white Mormon male hierarchy did!

    There are not enough black people in California to pass YES on 8 all by themselves. So pointing to one group and saying it is more homophobic than another is rather childish, and completely racist. It gives the powers that be like the catholic church and the mormons a free ride. There was very clear documented institutional money behind anti-gay campaigns, and I use "anti-gay" because this never includes lesbians. We are outside this entire spectrum, there are literally almost zero lesbians in powerful positions dealing with the so-called queer agenda anyway, and there are very few lesbians of color involved in this stuff either.

    I never see white gay men castigated on mainstream TV as prime movers in suppressing lesbians of color, except in token positions that are blantant and embarassing... go to the panel discussions and you'll see how outrageous tokenism of WOC lesbians and even white lesbians is.

    The truth of the elections are that the radical white religious male right is against lesbian progress, lesbian visibility, and lesbian agency in the world. Black communitees are no better or worse, but they are pointed to more often because they don't run CNN, they can't fight back against David Gergen, Hannity, Limbaugh and all the other creeps on the news. And bottom line, white gay men have absolutely NO intention of every doing anything for anyone but themselves. They don't have any interest in lesbians except to steal our labor for their benefit just as hetero men do to hetero women.

    They simply want the establishment to include them, that is what their so-called "civil rights" agenda is all about, all it has ever been about.

    Incidently, I saw no signs in Spanish, Vietnamese, or Chinese in the No on 8 campaign. Hmmm...

  2. I so appreciate this blog. I wrote something very similar back in December of '08 when Prop. 8 was passed in November. Thank you for your progressive views and mind!

  3. Hi Felicia,

    I want to be sure your link works, so I'll HTML code it and also will add you to my blogroll (if I haven't already!).

    Stop by any time. :)