This guy is so fucking hot.
I think I’ve been flirting with him online for ten years. Not obsessively – just, once in a while, when he pops up in my area, or has new photos or something. Despite his perpetual angry-face-because-it’s-Grindr, he’s lovely. He also has a career as a stylist and as a porn actor.
Recently, I ‘tapped’ him on Grindr. It’s a new thing you can do. Rather than say hello, you can just push the fire icon to tell someone you like their new photos, think they’re cute, like their profile text. I was seeing a foster client on the East Side and I hadn’t seen this guy on Grindr/Adam4Adam/DudesNude in a while.
I’m glad he shared this on his social media, actually – though I’m positive he and his circle had a fun time deconstructing my privilege and explaining to one another why I’m an irrelevant fool. At least it’s provoking conversation. I am aware the joke is provocative and charged, and I make no apologies. A friend of mine did point out – I could just change ‘POC’ to ‘straight POC’ and avoid the confusion.
But, do I want to avoid the confusion?
Here’s an interactive map of LGBT rights in America. You can see for yourself that, even in my liberal enclave of Los Angeles, I can legally be denied credit, car loans, house loans, just for being gay – it’s perfectly legal! Tab around the map. The news isn’t good.
I’m not saying the LGBT struggle is more important than the struggle of POC or women. I’m not saying I don’t benefit from all sorts of privilege. I live in the richest state in the richest country in North America. I am white. I am a man. I am able. I can run, and sing songs, and do comedy without fear.
However, there is no arguing which minority group comes in last place. Which group has to beg and cajole when it comes time to talk about basic human rights? I’m not sure why empirical fact stirs up so much anger. Maybe, because the world is so incredibly heteronormative, that even LGBT folks are taught to teach themselves that their struggle will be important and recognized later: once women’s issues aren’t under attack, once POC feel like some semblance of equality has been reached?
When does the LGBT community stop savaging one another, and start demanding equal rights under the federal law? When do we start reaching out to one another with love and support, instead of trying to vilify each other in the kangaroo court of InstaTwitBook Land? When do we start insisting on a place at the table in intersectional dialogues? Something that is more than a pat on the head, a tertiary mention, in service to a more popular, more attended to American dialogue which always focuses first and foremost on the original sin of slavery? In the narrative of our society racism is the biggest evil. Then sexism. Then poverty, then healthcare issues, then twenty other things. Then, homophobia.
That’s not good enough.
Large swaths of straight people polled about a year and a half ago think gay people have full legal equality. How about not even half? Look at the map. Straight people routinely poll as thinking gay suicide is not a problem. In actual fact, gay people have four times the likelihood of dying by their own hand, and this information is doesn’t factor in closeted homosexuals. 25% of Transgender polled have reported attempted suicide. We underreport and under prosecute rape, murder, hate crimes against LGBT. It’s true the police don’t shoot us, but they also don’t go out of their way to protect us. The judiciary system doesn’t either.
Other gay people have attempted sexual assault on me at least three times. Twice by drugging me and once by out and out violence. This type of information is so common in an LGBT narrative that it’s usually met with exhausted shrugs. Sometimes people mutter something supportive, but it’s nearly always followed up with, at least you’re not transgender, at least you’re white, at least you’re a man. Are you kidding me?
When did this become a good enough argument to use on one another? Why can’t a gay person instead say, hey, I hear and see you – what you’re saying is painful and I’m glad you’re talking about it. Why can’t I say what is obvious to me – that gay issues take a back seat? Because I’m white, and white is reviled in the current racial dialogue?
Because I have a penis and it’s pink? That’s why you think I shouldn’t be allowed to say I’m a second class citizen?
That reasoning seems incredibly flimsy, simple minded, reductive. It caters to the uglier side of human nature. It’s not good enough for me, and it shouldn’t be good enough for you either.
This person’s argument (he wouldn’t really communicate with me significantly) seems to be that I’m triggering people’s feelings about racial and gender oppression? But, why is he triggered? Because I’m white that magically erases decades of gay oppression? That’s how you want the narrative to go? What a generous outlook you have, radical liberal coward who will blast my photo on social media, but not engage with me in a dialogue.
Perhaps, it might be time to unpack some internalized homophobia and capitulation to hetero supremacy. Maybe then a fellow gay person mentioning his own oppression in a supposed gay safe space won’t be some huge controversial trigger we need soothed by our echo chamber. He’s certainly reaching for straws. The joke lived on Twitter, Facebook and Grindr for weeks without mention.
The implication that race issues or women’s issues deserve more sensitivity than LGBT issues creates a heirarchy in which, yet again, LGBT come last. How can someone pointing out something unassailably obvious provoke knee-jerk scorn and outrage? To say gay people are second class citizens isn’t even controversial. If anything, it’s just a boring fact.
At the very least, this much is true: we can all be more nuanced, more intelligent, and more kind with our dialogues. Caterwauling our outrage at one another does nothing to combat oppression. It’s the psychic equivalent of pissing in the wind.
You deserve better, stranger from the internet.
We all do.
Darren Kinoshita – you look great in those underwear.