Gay White Men and Black Female Culture
Last summer, in July, there was a debate going on all over the Internet about the way black women feel as if some white gay men are stealing their culture. This one falls under the category of cultural appropriation, which I posted about yesterday, if you scroll down a little. It’s interesting to me because I see an almost identical argument between gay men and straight women happening in m/m romance from time to time, and it has nothing to do with whether or not women can write gay fiction or misogyny. That’s a weak argument when compared to cultural appropriation. The only big difference here, in this case, is that the black women who feel as if their culture is being pilfered by gay white men are speaking up about it and they’re not taking it passively.
Evidently, the entire firestorm erupted after an article titled, “Dear White Gays: Stop Stealing Black Female Culture,” in a Mississippi newspaper, written by a student named Sierra Mannie. The only honest comment I can make about that title is that I wish she hadn’t made such a broad generalization. Not all gay white men, me included, are trying to steal black female culture. But that’s an entirely different argument for another time. The point is that many black women do feel this way and I’m not going to disagree with them if they feel this strongly about it. The black woman always gets the last word on black female culture, not me. I don’t have the right to do that. I only get the right to have the last word on gay culture…me and all the other gay people out there. I could research black female culture, I could interview women about black female culture, but I’m not, and never will be, part of black female culture. And for me to argue that point would make me an idiot and a racist.
Here’s a quote, with strong language, and I think it’s important to make it clear we’re not talking about transgender people here. That’s another discussion, too.
“You are not a black woman,” Mannie writes to the offenders, “and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood. It is not yours. It is not for you.”
The author of the article I’m linking to, J. Bryan Lowder, goes on to comment and make distinctions about the kind of gay white male who does these things. And I couldn’t agree with him more if I tried.
Here’s an excerpt I found spot on:
I agree with Lowder and Manning, and frankly I’m sick and tired of the cultural appropriation I see going on everywhere these days. It’s harmful and it is racist and I know how Manning feels because I feel a different kind of cultural appropriation at times. The most positive thing, as Lowden points out, is that the segment of gay white males within the gay community who are doing this is very small…on the fringes. And that’s encouraging, because it’s the same with the appropriation of gay men often face, too. At least I don’t feel it that often, and I stay away from the “places” where it happens the most…usually Facebook, Twitter, and certain blogs.
You can read the rest here. If you do a simple search there are a lot of articles about this that were written around the same time last summer.
And in case you don’t feel like searching, here’s one more article on the topic. I know I’ve lost half of you by now, but I think it’s important enough to mention because it’s so wrong. What cultural appropriation does is silence and dismiss.
Cultural appropriation happens when members of the majority (in this case, white men) decide that blackness is a performance, a set of vocabulary, and some exaggerated hand gestures that white men can put on and off in the same way that they perceive black women do. Cultural appropriation happens when white men determine what the essential qualities of black women are and only see black women with those qualities as worthy of attention and praise. In the case of white gay male appropriation of black womanhood, those qualities are being fierce and the undefinable “sassy.”
But more important, the same thing applies when straight appropriation of gay culture takes place.
All Gay Prison Wing
I never knew anything like this existed…an all gay prison wing. And this one is allegedly the only one in America.
It’s been dubbed the “gay wing” in LA’s downtown jail and someone recently did a short documentary on it.
The film centers around Dave Williams, AKA Yah Yah, a transgender inmate known for her performing impromptu fashion shows in her dorm, where she takes pride in showing off her flashy refashioned jail attire. Yah Yah turns bedsheets into halter-top baby-doll dresses with matching white Cinderella gloves, and jail uniforms into tie-dyed hot pants.
The quotes are interesting because it’s another segment of the gay community I’ve personally never identified with. Unfortunately, as with most articles like this they fail to tell us why Dave Williams is actually in jail. But it’s a prison; he obviously did something illegal and I think it’s important to keep that in mind…otherwise those of us who are following the laws are wasting our time.
The rest is here. The article goes on to mention other things about this particular prison life, like the way straight inmates sometimes pretend to be gay just to be sent to the gay wing…they allegedly have some kind of “gaydar” test to figure them out. I have no idea how that works, but I’m curious.
This one kind of bothered me:
The sense of community there is so strong that it isn’t uncommon for people to re-offend once they’re released to be back with their chosen family.
In case you didn’t pick this up, “re-offend” is the PC interpretation of breaking the law, committing the crime, or in some cases maybe even causing willful harm to someone who is following the law. And I’m sorry if I can’t jump up and down screaming Huzzah! in this case. I do think it’s important to protect these people from certain obvious things that could happen to them if they weren’t in an isolated section, but I find it very hard to support the concept that convicted criminals are having a good time in jail to the point where they feel a sense of encouragement to re-offend just so they can go back to prison.
I hate to sound like a hard ass, but isn’t the point of prison/rehabilitation to punish the offender?
Pope On Gay Marriage
I have to admit that I follow everything related to the Pope and gay marriage closely because I was raised Catholic, went through 12 years of Catholic school, and I know how Catholics think and respond. In other words, in Catholic school you are taught to think like a Catholic and if you don’t you’re most likely going to run into trouble…which I often did, trust me. There’s a certain amount of brainwashing that runs deep and it NEVER wavers. It’s all based on the principle of the sheep following the shepherd. So when I see people in the gay community jumping up and down for joy when the Pope offers a slight tidbit that he might be a supporter of gay marriage and equal rights, I stand back and wait for the proverbial shit to hit the fan. And it always does.
The Pope said: ‘It is fitting that you have gathered here to explore the complementarity of man and woman. This complementarity is at the root of marriage and family.’
He added: ‘Children have the right to grow up in a family with a father and mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.’
Many are calling this a step back for the “liberal” Pope with respect to gay marriage. I’m calling it “it is what it is” because I know how they think. Unfortunately, this could also be the reason why so many Catholic schools and parishes are closing all over the United States.
There’s more here. The comments are kind of sad because you read about people who had hope and now that hope’s been shattered once again. And I’d also like to make it clear that most straight Catholics I know don’t think this way and the Pope’s disappointed them, too. The most interesting thing about all of this is that there’s this huge dichotomy between the executive branch in Rome and the people.
Ten Old Time Gay Slang Words
When I opened this article I thought I might at least know a few of these old time gay slang words, but I never heard any of them…not even from older gay friends I’ve known over the years.
Here are a few examples:
Barbarella (n.) – Unrestrained homosexual, uncontrollable desire by a man for sexual intercourse one that needs to have sex all the time. Enough with the slut shaming. You are not a whore, you’re a Barbarella. Much classier!
Mother Superior (n.) – older and wiser gay male who has been around the block a few times; similar to “auntie,” but more favorable. Ageism in the gay community is awful. Cross-generational friendships can be enlightening for both parties. Maybe this would help spin them a bit more favorably.
The rest are here. I’ll bet you don’t know what a “Tinkerbell” is. According to the comments, I’m not the only one who hasn’t heard of them either. I think that’s because a lot are from the UK.