We aren’t all equal yet
White gay men aren’t recognizing their privilege and are monopolizing queer visibility
Can't Think Straight
A buddy of mine recently showed me one of the trailers for the documentary Second Class Citizen, which apparently is a crowd-funded documentary about the struggles about queer folk in America.
According to its Kickstarter campaign, the documentary has raised $176,354 from 4,272 donators. It’s less than half of the $500,000 goal, but apparently it’s enough to make a movie.
The documentary is directed by Ryan James Yezak, who apparently is famous for making YouTube videos where very attractive gay men dance and lip-sync to pop songs while wearing basically nothing at all.
With a pedigree like that, I’m sure a film about the struggle for gay rights and equality in the United States would be a great film. If you watch the trailers – or teasers or whatever they are – they’re exquisitely shot and use overbearing emotional music so effectively that you’ll probably cry as these queer individuals tell their stories, or speak inspiringly into the camera that they “want to know what it’s like” to be equal.
And you know, I’m sure these videos would be great if they weren’t predominantly made up of white men.
You’re probably already up in arms against me now. How dare he point out that someone is raced! How dare he point out that someone exists as a personal with a gender!
You know what, though? These things exist, and they matter. And it’s not until we, as a bunch of white gay men, recognize that we’re also white and men that we’ll maybe, just maybe, be able to move towards that post-race, post-gender, post-sexuality world we all love.
It’s not just enough to imagine that we’re in those worlds either. Much of the criticism that will come up against this article will read something like “but race and gender don’t matter? You’re just being reverse racist and reverse sexist.”
Listen, friends. You can’t be reverse racist and reverse sexist; you can’t oppress a group that’s been the oppressor for at least hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
White gay men should really be considering the role they take on in the queer community, because at the rate we’re going, we aren’t any better than the straight dudes we love to hate (or love to fantasize about, depending on your mood).
As a white gay man, the one thing I am the most tired of hearing is that we’re oppressed and that our lives are so rough because we can’t get married and because people look at us funny when we hold our partner’s hand when we walk down the street.
I get that. I get that those are shitty things and should change. I hate the feeling of unease I get when I want to hold my partner’s hand on the street. For me personally, I think a lot of this has to do with internalized fears that the rhetoric of the queer community pushes on me and isn’t actually founded in any real fear, but I understand that for others, this isn’t the case.
Let me be absolutely clear (because apparently I haven’t been clear enough in the last eight months): this is not the case for me and does not apply to me.
This does not mean that it doesn’t happen and doesn’t apply to someone else, but for me, this is not the case.
I do not feel oppressed like the rhetoric of the queer community tells me I should.
And, as far as I’m concerned, I’m not sure a lot of other white gay men my age should feel oppressed either.
A trend I’ve noticed recently in other white gay men is this attempt to put their gayness forward first as the primary indicator of their identity. As a result, we end up ignoring the other aspects of our identity in the process and end up replicating that very oppressive structure we trying to fight against.
We erase our white and our male identities and any other identities we may have and put queer identity first.
And this is a problem.
The queer community proclaims itself as this progressive ideal, this thing we should strive for that is totally inclusive.
But it’s not. The very fact that I’m writing this column is evidence of that enough.
The lack of international queer identities in the so-called mosaic of the queer community is frightening. Walk into the GLCR any night and you’ll see a sea of white. Look at the drag queens in this province, and you have a bunch of white men, with a few women peppered in as drag kings, and a smattering of transgender folk.
Maybe these identities don’t exist. Maybe Regina is just too backwards a town. And if Regina is too backwards a town for people like that to exist, then maybe we should be wondering what it is about white gay men that allows them to exist in this city at all, even if it is slightly painful.
At the very least, white gay men have to recognize that they’re white and men and they have to recognize that, just because they’re gay, this doesn’t automatically place them on equal footing with the rest of the queer community, who probably has it a lot more difficult than we do.
We’re white men. We have certain privileges afforded to us that make our lives easier. Realize that, or else by the time you get your “equality.” you will have created a queer community that has all of the same gendered and racial structures of your heterosexual counterparts.