Racism, transphobia and discrimination are alive and well in the gay community. It is no big secret. Washington, D.C. is about as divided as it gets when it comes to social strata. You’d have to be as tone-deaf as a Pepsi ad suggesting Kendal Jenner and the sugary beverage as the cure to all social ills to not see it.
Hell, we have two separate Pride celebrations; Black Pride for black folks and the catch-all, Capital Pride for everyone else. As someone who is often outspoken on social issues, especially those concerning race, I was asked to address our nation’s capital’s gay community. Excited about the prospect of challenging people’s thinking and affecting positive change, I jumped at the opportunity. I sat down at my laptop and I eagerly began writing. Something was off. It wasn’t working. I stumbled from one sentence to the next and somehow cobbled together a semi-decent article. It was sufficient, but it lacked the soul-bearing, in-your-face, unabashed tone and quality for which I am known.
I found myself admonishing white gay men, trying desperately to get them to understand that the responsibility of turning this ship around lies largely on their shoulders. I found myself taking to task the awful white gays, you know, the ones who think simply because they don’t use the “n” word or go to drag brunch once a month that they are championing equality. But then I remembered that people don’t respond positively to reproach, especially when it comes from someone from outside of their own tribe (read: someone black). So instead of submitting something that wasn’t authentically me, I scrapped it! This is me starting over.
Instead of pandering to the oppressor, let me minister to those they oppress. Let me focus my attention where it stands to do the most good. Let me talk to the gays of color, the transgender people, the poor gays, the bisexuals, the lesbians, and everyone else made to feel less than and inferior. It boggles my mind that for a marginalized community, some could find it in themselves to turn around and further marginalize others. But that is the sad reality of the world we live in and an even sadder truth for the gay community of which we are asked to be proud.
The solution isn’t getting awful white queens who thrive on discrimination to see the error of their ways. They will still patronize the establishments in which we’ve been made to feel unwelcome. They will still put “white only” on their Grindr profiles. They will still erase our contributions from history and take credit for the backbreaking work we put in. (The Stonewall riots, credited as the birthplace of the modern LGBT movement was started by a black transgender woman, but that fact is largely left out of the story, including in the film “Stonewall” released in 2015), and they will still see themselves as better than us in every aspect of life. But you know what? Who cares? Some of them stay so busy saying “you can’t sit with us” that we never stop to really ask ourselves, “bitch, do I even want to?” The solution isn’t to convince them they are awful, the solution is to see that you are not. Focus on your own beauty. Turn your attention to your unique, wondrous, and magical qualities. You are still alive, you are still thriving in spite of adversity, you are beautifully created and you deserve to be loved and appreciated in spite of what they say.
Now, there are some “woke white queens” out there and I’d be remiss if I didn’t give them a shout out! You all exemplify what allyship in action looks like. You take your privilege and use it for good. You speak out against injustice when you see it. You bitches rock and you deserve to be applauded. If you think you belong in that category, calm down, you don’t! Woke queens know they are woke. They are the ones that won’t sleep with you because their best friend is trans and you threw them shade whilst trying to get their number. They are loyal as fuck and you should take notes from them on how to be a decent gay.
If the gay community has taught me anything, it’s how to foster a ferocious love of self; how to see my beauty and my own worth. That didn’t come from being a part of a loving, accepting, tolerant, and open-minded community because as I see it, that community doesn’t exist. It came because I had the fortitude and wherewithal to discover those qualities within myself. Capital Pride is around the corner. Before we go off celebrating gay pride, ask yourself, am I contributing something to the community of which I can be proud?” “Am I exhibiting acceptance before I demand it from others?” Ultimately, it is my hope that everyone engages in that level of introspection; that’s what separates the awful gays from the good ones. But until that point, to my marginalized friends, stay strong and give yourself the love awful gays won’t.
Robert James has been a resident of the D.C. area for more than 25 years. He’s a political adviser, theologian, lifestyle consultant, event planner and professed socialite.