Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals come from diverse cultural groups with differing ethnic and racial identities. However, most research on LGB people uses white western samples and studies of Afro-Caribbean diaspora often use Jamaican samples. Thus, the complexity of Afro-Caribbean LGB peoples‘ experiences of homophobia is largely unknown. The authors‘ analyses explore experiences of homophobia among LGB people in St. Lucia. Findings indicate issues of skin-shade orientated tolerance, regionalized disparities in levels of tolerance toward LGB people and regionalized (regionalized sexual identity shifting). Finally, the authors‘ findings indicate that skin shade identities and regional location influence the psychological health outcomes of homophobia experienced by LGB people in St. Lucia.
New slang for gay white people to use instead of appropriating black slang
Okay sis, I’ve got some news for you! I know it’s fun to bally around whatever catchphrase you heard on Drag Race, but have you ever thought about where those terms come from? Sure, everyone enjoys telling someone to sashay away or to read them for filth, but have you ever read some critical language theory? Hunty, those words and phrases that you like to use are almost certainly taken, stolen, and appropriated from African American culture and when your skinny white ass drops them in some casual convo, you’re showing just how ignorant you are.
“But it’s fun to say these things!” you protest as you spray enough fake tan to give even Ariana Grande pause. We all love some fresh vernacular but it’s time that we, as white people trying to do better, stopped appropriating AAVE!
It’s not impossible. It just requires us to do something no white person in America has ever done: build something on their own!
So say “Bye Felicia” to your preconceived notions of which words you can say . I’m white and I came up with a bunch of slang white gays can use instead of stealing from black queers. Can POC use these terms? Sure, anyone can… except for straight cis white men. They’re still the worst, but just barely! So why not take the time to learn these new alternative phrases for white people and keep those straight cis white men firmly in first place for being the absolute worst.
It will make you sound less like a cultural appropriator and it will probably make Ally Sheedy feel good to hear so many people saying her name again.
Listen, if you’re willing to just say “Wig!” anytime anything happens to literally anyone (we’re looking at you, Katy Perry), then you might as well just say anything else so, uh, how about… hmmm… “flumph.” Sure, that works! No matter what happens you can just say “flumph.” It doesn’t mean anything which is perfect since you have nothing of importance to say anyways. Flumph!
Honestly this one is for everyone. Why are you praising God when you’re slowly dying on a decaying planet without a future? Just accept the inevitable and curse whatever sick deity would make a planet like this and then abandon it to humanity’s worst impulses.
This one’s easy. I didn’t even have to make it up. It comes from gay white America’s gayest whitest American Tim Gunn and it’s already been floating around out there for like two decades. Bonus: everyone loves a Tim Gunn impersonation. Honestly, from here on out, the next time you’re thinking about putting on a black femme voice and saying something for laughs, just ask yourself “What Would Tim Gunn Say?” and say that instead.
Quiche is also a metaphor in this slang, representing a perfect world in which the eggs of equality, the pie crust of humanity, and the various fillings that makes us all special have come together to form a more perfect and egalitarian world. Instead of proclaiming yourself “woke,” by asking “Mama, I have awoken; is the quiche ready?” you let POC know that the struggle is still ongoing while also inviting them to let you know “No, you have to make the quiche yourself.”
Say: Actually I think this one might have grown out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom so you’re probably fine.
There’s nothing whiter than Sarah Michelle Gellar but we still love you sis!
Say: I’m a shitty person who designed their entire personality around insulting people because I hate myself and don’t have an actual personality.
Even if you never refer to your insults as “throwing shade”, this is probably true for you so take a good long look in the mirror and throw some shade at yourself for a fucking change.
Say: Have you seen Kinky Boots? I hear it’s rather good. I got two tickets from a pledge drive and I wanted to see if you wanted to come. Oh you can? How wonderful! I’ll see you Sunday at 2!
—Julian Modugno is a writer and humorist based out of Chicago, IL. He hates everything you love and won’t be happy until it’s destroyed and you’re left with nothing. You can follow him on instagram @historysgreatestmonster.
not gay: sex between straight white men mp3 cd – sacd, 30. august 2016
A straight white girl can kiss a girl, like it, and still call herself straight – her boyfriend may even encourage her. But can straight white guys experience the same easy sexual fluidity, or would kissing a guy just mean that they are really gay?
thrusts deep into a world where straight guy-on-guy action is not a myth but a reality: There’s fraternity and military hazing rituals, where new recruits are made to grab each other’s penises and stick fingers up their fellow members‘ anuses; online personal ads, where straight men seek other straight men to masturbate with; and, last but not least, the long and clandestine history of straight men frequenting public restrooms for sexual encounters with other men. For Jane Ward, these sexual practices reveal a unique social space where straight white men can – and do – have sex with other straight white men; in fact, she argues, to do so reaffirms rather than challenges their gender and racial identity.
Ward illustrates that sex between straight white men allows them to leverage whiteness and masculinity to authenticate their heterosexuality in the context of sex with men. By understanding their same-sex sexual practices as meaningless, accidental, or even necessary, straight white men can perform homosexual contact in heterosexual ways. These sex acts are not slippages into a queer way of being or expressions of a desired but unarticulated gay identity. Instead, Ward argues, they reveal the fluidity and complexity that characterizes all human sexual desire. In the end, Ward’s analysis offers a new way to think about heterosexuality – not as the opposite or absence of homosexuality but as its own unique mode of engaging in homosexual sex, a mode characterized by pretense, disidentification, and racial and heterosexual privilege.
Daring, insightful, and brimming with wit, is a fascinating new take on the complexities of heterosexuality in the modern era.
Gay daniels white (1947–)
Gay Daniels White was the wife of Frank Whitegovernor of Arkansas) and the state’s thirty-sixth first lady. Outside of politics, she has been best known for her love of Arkansas’s outdoors—hiking, camping, and canoeing—leading her to serve on the board of trustees of the Arkansas Nature Conservancy for a number of years. She has also publicly shared her experience of personal struggle and the role of faith in her life.
Gay Daniels was born in Oakland, California, on March 7, 1947, to Russell and Nan Daniels. She was the youngest of three daughters born into a career U.S. Navy family. After her father retired from naval service, the family settled in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she completed high school and enrolled at the University of Tulsa. She also attended Marshall University and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She was briefly married after her freshman year at the University of Tulsa, and she and her husband moved to California, where they both worked in various capacities with Campus Crusade for Christ. After their divorce in 1969, she lived in a former Kappa Sigma fraternity house on the UCLA campus that had been converted into a dormitory. The businessman who had acquired the building hired her as a secretary, and she cooked in the evenings for the students who lived in the building. She described the residents as Christian students, adding that many “had come from terrible backgrounds and had been involved in the drug scene.”
She moved to Arkansas in 1971, having grown to love the state in her visits to her sister’s home. Her sister lived in Little Rock (Pulaski County), and her brother-in-law was a lobbyist working on David Pryor’s challenge to Senator John McClellan’s bid for a sixth term. She would travel throughout 1972 with her brother-in-law, setting up rallies and raising campaign funds. After Pryor’s narrow loss in the Democratic Party primary runoff, she was hired by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration as secretary to the director, Richard Heath. She met Frank White in 1975 when he was director of the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission (later the Arkansas Economic Development Commission); they dated and were married later that year. The Whites had no children of their own, but Frank White was granted full custody of the three children by his first marriage—Elizabeth, Rebecca, and Kyle—in 1976, and Gay White became a full-time stepmother.
In 1980, when her husband embarked on what was an improbable bid for the governorship, Gay White, like most others, was skeptical of her husband’s chances. When White said that he wanted to be the Republican nominee for governor, she responded, “Normal people don’t do things like that!” Once the initial shock had worn off, she was her husband’s constant companion on the campaign trail for seven months, gaining goodwill for his candidacy. After a whirlwind campaign, she would share the national spotlight with her husband in what many consider to be the biggest political upset in Arkansas history, defeating Democrat Bill Clinton after Clinton had served only one term as governor. (White himself was limited to one term when Clinton reclaimed the office of governor in 1982.)
A popular first lady, Gay White adopted senior citizens’ issues as one of her chief causes. She also served as state chair for the Mothers’ March of Dimes Campaign and was active in programs at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. She was particularly known during her tenure for conducting regular morning tours of the Governor’s Mansion. One of the largest tours that she conducted commemorated the tenth anniversary of the Arkansas chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). At her invitation, First Lady Nancy Reagan joined her in 1981 on a statewide tour of Arkansas’s high schools promoting the “Just Say No to Drugs” initiative, and she represented Arkansas at the White House Conference on Aging.
After her husband’s term ended in 1983, Gay White continued her involvement in politics. She was active in Little Rock civic affairs, promoting youth literacy efforts, such as the Reading for Fun program and programs promoting better nutrition. She served on the speaker’s bureau for the Twentieth Century Club, informing high school students about the dangers of smoking. She continued her efforts on behalf of the Nature Conservancy, and as a reflection of her love of the state’s outdoor recreational opportunities, a pair of her hiking boots is displayed in her section of the first ladies’ exhibit at the Old State House Museum.
After her husband’s death in 2003, White continued to be prominent in Republican circles, presiding at the inauguration of the “Hi, I’m Frank White” Awards in 2006 to honor those who helped build the Arkansas Republican Party. She also became active in efforts to increase women’s financial literacy by serving on the Delta Trust Women’s Advisory Council, sponsored by Delta Bank & Trust, then headed by future U.S. Representative French Hill, a close friend of the Whites’. She began serving the Old State House as a board member of the Old State House Museum Associates, and she served on the namesake committee for the littoral combat ship (LCS) USS Little Rock, which was commissioned at Buffalo, New York, on December 16, 2017. She and Bill Sigler married in September 2018.
For additional information:“Gay White Addresses Christian Women’s Group.” Star Progress, December 18, 1989, p. 3.
Hewett, Vonnie. “Next First Lady Welcomes Opportunities, Challenges.” Arkansas Gazette, January 11, 1981.
McMath, Anne. First Ladies of Arkansas: Women of Their Times. Little Rock: August House, 1989.
Pyron, Jennifer. “Former First Lady of Arkansas Gay White on Teaching Women to Make Smart Financial Decisions.” Little Rock Soiree, June 1, 2013.
Robinson, Camille. “First Ladies of the South: Mrs. Frank White, Arkansas.” State Government News, February 1982.
“She Never Expected to Be There: Gay White, First Lady (1981–83).” Old State House Museum Blog, August 21, 2018. bear-magazine.com (accessed April 1, 2020).
Shiras, Ginger. “Never Expected Husband to Win Governorship, Mrs. White Says.” Arkansas Gazette, December 10, 1980, pp. 1A, 2A.
White gays, we need to talk…
As an aspiring journalist, people have come to expect from me (and I’ve come to expect from myself) a certain level of refined professionalism in my work. Whether it be album reviews or interviews with local heroes, my writing is usually well researched and free (as much as possible) from personal bias. That is not this.
This is personal. This is political. This is me writing not as a journalist or an editor, but as a Black, queer woman who is tired. So, without further ado, white gays, let’s chat.
Last week, “journalist” Chadwick Moore tweeted the following: “I’m sorry, blacks, but you already have a month. Juneteenth isn’t a thing. Don’t colonize our month as well. Thanks. Signed, the gays.”
Now, there are a plethora of things wrong with this tweet, starting with the fact that anyone who refers to a group of human beings as “blacks” is already off to a bad start. Although, a grown man being able to graduate a top 100 university and build a large platform all while thinking that the largest, most well-known celebration of the end of U.S. slavery “isn’t a thing” is a close second.
The glaring issue here, however, is that this school of thought is an unfortunate representation of the kind of explicit racism that runs through the veins of the supposedly all-accepting LGBTQ+ community. If you’re not sure what that means, I’ll explain. But first, this calls for a literal history lesson.
One of the most iconic events in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights was the Stonewall uprising. It was in this monumental moment that the queer peoples of New York City decided that they had had enough, that they were willing to risk their lives so long as the queer folks that came after them did not have to endure the same discrimination and brutality that they did. It is because of these horrifically violent confrontations that the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement gained momentum and, in short, why we have a pride month at all.
On the front lines of this movement were Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy and a slew of other activists that will go down in history as queer icons and change-makers. If you are unfamiliar with these names, the common theme among them is that they are all people of color. So, before you say something as ignorant as “don’t colonize our month” (which is ludicrous in its own way, as it suggests that Black LGBTQ+ people do not exist), remember that this month would not exist without the hard work and sacrifice of Black people and other people of color.
Now that the major elephant in the room has been cleared, here’s a shortlist of other problematic behaviors that are simply not okay.
Gay men and drag queens are often known for their flamboyant personalities and catchy lingo; that is not a secret. The problem, however, lies in the fact that most of this vernacular is based in AAVE and these personalities are simply cheap mockeries of the outspoken Black women this country loves to hate. We’re inspirational. I get it.
Similarly, just because you are loud and flamboyant does not mean that you are a “Black woman on the inside.” You’re white and annoying–that’s it.
Stop fetishizing your partners. Being attracted to someone who is Black or a person of color is normal; being attracted to them because the idea of their exoticism is exciting and enticing is not.
Just because these are the only things I can think of does not mean this is everything. There is much work to be done, and frankly, it should not be the burden of POC to educate you on how not to be a racist.
And to be clear, this is not an attack on white queers. This is an acknowledgment that although you share in our queer oppression, you are still a beneficiary of white supremacy and male privilege, and it’s up to you to fix it.
Donald trump’s top “lgbt” supporters are largely gay white men
Trump boasts that LGBT voters love him — but his campaign hasn’t identified an LGBT platform, any LGBT outreach effort, or campaign ambassadors to LGBT voters. Polls show his LGBT support is in the tubes, and the most prominent “LGBT for Trump” group is essentially one gay man with a Facebook page.
On Sunday night in Greeley, Colorado, Donald Trump spotted something he wanted in the crowd. He gestured to a supporter, who handed a wad of rainbow fabric up to the stage. Trump unfurled it for the fans and cameras — a pride flag scrawled with the words “LGBTs for Trump.”
He strutted stage left, grinning and nodding to the audience with a literal sign of his diverse support. A Facebook group called LGBT for Trump posted a photo of Trump with the flag on Monday morning, captioning it: “Most pro-gay nominee of any party ever.”
Both Trump and his supporters have nurtured this LGBT-cozy image, diverging from past Republican presidential candidates. That coziness was on display during the Republican National Convention in July, when a group calling itself Twinks for Trump held a soiree festooned with poster-size photos of lithe, shirtless young men in Trump caps. Inside the convention two days later, Trump pledged to protect “LGBTQ” citizens, taking care to enunciate the “Q” — a gesture to queer people.
Despite all this, Trump’s campaign has not confirmed any direct outreach to LGBT voters. Over the last three months, his staff has not answered questions from BuzzFeed News about whether Trump has an LGBT policy platform, contacted or plans to contact LGBT communities, or if anyone on the campaign staff is LGBT themselves. He also did not fill out at least two LGBT groups’ surveys about his positions.
Further, Trump’s most prominent LGBT supporters and surrogates are not a spectrum of LGBT diversity, but rather, are overwhelmingly white gay men. Which is to say, “LGBTs for Trump” reflects much of same homogenous bloc of dudes who make up the rest of his base.
Milo Yiannopoulos, a conservative gay columnist and Trump supporter, at a June press conference about a mass shooting at Pulse, an LGBT nightclub in Florida.
His most formal constituency support is LGBT for Trump, a non-campaign group operated by gay Republican activist Chris Barron.
“Essentially it is a Facebook page,” Barron explained in a phone call. There is no board of directors and its members are the 1,509 people who have liked the page. A smattering of other Twitter and Facebook accounts, which are run independent of Barron and separate from the Trump campaign, promote variations of the same theme.
Barron has become the most public face of LGBT for Trump supporters, pressing his message in cable TV interviews. He built bridges in the past between Republicans and gays with the group GOProud. And this year, he said, he has been in touch with the Trump campaign to consult on media and other LGBT issues.
He brushed aside any concern that Trump lacks an LGBT platform or that he supports certain anti-LGBT positions, because, he said, Trump tolerates LGBT people around him. “If there had been a pride flag on stage at a Mitt Romney event,” he speculated, “Romney would have been running off the stage.”
Barron was not aware of any LGBT Trump staffers nor a lesbian Trump group, but argued the movement is diffuse. “There are a bunch of grassroots activists — they are all over the place,” he said. “I certainly know lesbians for Trump. I know more than one, but I don’t know the exact number.” He added that “there was a picture of a transgender person for Trump” at a pride event in Savannah, Georgia, though he didn’t specify where that photo was published.
Trump’s most prominent gay supporters are Peter Thiel, a PayPal co-founder who spoke at the RNC, and Milo Yiannopoulos, a columnist of the white nationalist alt-right.
“Just because the most visible LGBT folks for Trump happen to be gay white men, not every LGBT person for Trump is a gay white male,“ said Barron. „We are an incredibly diverse community.”
There is no doubt that Trump has backing from some lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people — though polls show the numbers are quite slim and they don’t compare to Hillary Clinton’s hearty LGBT support.
Yet in July, they appeared in short support supply at the Twinks for Trump event.
“I do not remember seeing any trans people,” Carlos Maza, who attended the event and works for the left-leaning Media Matters, told BuzzFeed News. “There were women, though the few I interacted with seemed to be straight.”
Lucian Wintrich leads Twinks for Trump. “It’s not really organization,” he said on the phone this week, calling it a small collective of “primarily gay men.”
„I am a gay man, so by virtue of that, gay men will reach out to me,“ said Wintrich.
Finding a lesbian Trump supporter became a goal for Jennifer Bendery, a Huffington Post reporter, who wrote an article about her search last month accompanied by an illustration of a unicorn in a haystack.
“It took me a week to find just one lesbian,” Bendery told BuzzFeed News. “A couple others started trickling in after that. Add to that a smattering of gay white men, and you’ve got an LGBTQ coalition as diverse as a bag of iceberg lettuce from Safeway.”
Statistics bear out Trump’s paltry LGBT support — and he struggles particularly among women. A Gallup poll this month found LGBT voters view Clinton almost five times more favorably than Trump, but LGBT women were especially wary. Only 9% of LBT women reported favorable feelings for Trump; GBT men were at 16%.
Trump lost many voters by picking running mate Mike Pence, who, as Indiana governor and former Congressman, opposed LGBT-rights bills. Trump also created furor in September with a pledge to sign the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill in Congress that would protect those with religious objections to same-sex marriage.
The country’s top LGBT Republican group, the Log Cabin Republicans, declined to endorse Trump this year due to his anti-LGBT advisors and support for anti-LGBT legislation.
This flaccid buttressing from LGBT people hasn’t stopped Trump from inflating the appearance of their support. His online campaign store features an LGBT for Trump t-shirt. And though none of the positions on his website address pro-LGBT policies, the site links to external news articles to help burnish his image, including one ABC News piece titled “Donald Trump says LGBT voters like him ‘very, very much.’”
„It seems every time he opens his mouth, Donald Trump boasts about fictitious support from one corner or another,“ said Jay Brown, a spokesman for the LGBT group Human Rights Campaign, which was unable to get Trump to fill out its candidate survey.
“He’d undo all the progress we made in the last eight years — and his campaign is especially threatening to those of us who are transgender, who are women, who are Latinx, who are Muslim,“ Brown said. „I don’t think that’s lost on the majority of LGBTQ people despite his claims.”
Trump returns a rainbow flag given to him by supporter Max Nowak to an aide during a campaign rally on Sunday in Colorado.
The transgender advocacy PAC Trans United Fund also told BuzzFeed News this summer that Trump never responded to their survey. Clinton did not fill out that group’s survey, either.
Yet Clinton’s campaign has wooed an LGBT bloc aggressively, using a bench of LGBT surrogates, targeting outreach to LGBT voters, and pairing with with LGBT originations. Clinton also enjoys lavish donations from LGBT funders. But, as BuzzFeed News has also noted, one of her LGBT rallies this spring also skewed white and male.
There is some notable diversity in Trump’s LGBT support, including transgender activists on the Trump train. In June, as Breitbart reported, Facebook deleted the account for Transgender for Trump after the group’s administrator posted a video of an Imam advocating death to homosexuals.
Caitlyn Jenner, a leading voice for transgender Americans, praised Trump in April for standing „behind the LGBT community,“ and she spoke at the RNC to advocate for LGBT inclusion in the party generally. But Jenner has since said she is not outwardly supporting any candidate this election.
A person who runs one of a handful of „LGBT for Trump“ Twitter accounts told me by direct message they are transgender. But when I asked for a Facebook or Twitter account to verify their identity, they blocked me. That account, which has more than 5,000 followers, published a lewd anti-Muslim tweet recently about Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, who is gay. “Robby Mook needs to be thrown in a mosque during prayer time wrapped in bacon with stapled pictures of muhamad getting banged by a pig.”
A Facebook page with about 5,000 followers, called „LGBTrump – Gays for Trump,“ is run by a gay man named Joe Murray who contributes op-eds to local papers. „Of the two major political party candidates,“ his website explains, „Trump is the only one not afraid to say radical Islam and Trump is the only one who has the back of our brave law enforcement.“
Another Twitter account called „LGBT support Trump“ pinned a tweet that says “we represent the millions of #LGBT that support @realdonaldtrump.” It has 81 followers.
But Barron, from the most established LGBT for Trump group, said no single entity „is going to be emblematic of all of a candidate’s supporters.“
People can take Trump to task for plenty of things, but not the LGBT issue,“ said Barron, emphasizing that Trump departs from years of anti-LGBT hostility from Republicans. „I feel like I’m driving a Rolls-Royce after years of driving a Yugo.“
Dominic Holden is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Why i’m tired of white gay men telling queer stories
A few days ago, it was announced that Ryan Murphy, the mind behind queer favorites like Glee and American Horror Story, is developing a show slated for 2018 called Pose that will explore 80s LGBTQ ball culture. According to , the series “examines the juxtaposition of several segments of life and society in New York City: the emergence of the luxury Trump-era universe, the downtown social and literary scene and the ball culture world.”
It’s not that I don’t believe this is a culture worth exploring or that the show could have no entertainment value. Murphy is a talented storyteller who had little difficulty drawing me into the worlds he weaved in Glee and American Crime Story. I have no doubt Pose will bring an equally new and refreshing approach to the television experience. But I was immediately reminded of all the ways white gay men use ideas of queerness universalized around their own experiences to tell our stories that are ultimately harmful to other queer people like myself.
There is a thin line between entertainment, appropriation, and historical revisionism when it comes to who gets to tell queer stories and why. Two years ago, when Roland Emmerich released Stonewall, a fictionalized account of the riots most recognize as the start of the modern gay rights movement, the film’s obvious whitewashing and erasure of major trans Black and Latinx figures did not go unnoticed.
Stonewall was only a small part of a legacy of cisgender white gay men taking up space in the LGBTQ community with no regard for anyone else, a legacy to which Murphy himself has willingly contributed.
As many have already pointed out, Murphy’s shows have had a consistent problem with anti-Black portrayals of Black women specifically, perhaps most noticeably on and Scream QueensAs Kerensa Cadenas Complex, “(Murphy) knows what he’s doing—there’s always a wink, a hair flip, a smirk to acknowledge the tongue-in-cheek nature of his jokes—but that doesn’t lessen the vileness of these moments on his shows. In fact, it makes it feel even worse because as the audience, we’re supposed to just accept them.
But the problem with Pose is bigger than one person or a few problematic portrayals. Ball culture was created and driven by Black and Brown queer folks to provide protection from the violence that necessitates that far too many Black and Brown LGBTQ people to seek homes outside of their own. Within the scene, queer youth, many of them homeless, create new family structures and support systems that they might not find anywhere else. It is just as much a safe haven from the racism of white queer people as it is from the straight people in their families and communities in which they grew up.
LGBTQ stories are much bigger than what white gay men live, and much bigger than many can even envision. But because of white gay men’s experience with marginalization on behalf of their queerness, it is far too often assumed that they can speak to the marginalization of other queer people as well. This ignores how whiteness and maleness intersect to encourage white gay male violence against those even more marginalized within the LGBTQ community.
White gay men telling stories like Pose without ever rectifying this issue is part of this same pattern of violence that leads to anti-Blackness and transantagonism in queer spaces everywhere.
When white gay men tell queer histories, the brick that starts a revolution magically exchanges from my sister’s hands to theirs.
HIV is no longer a problem, or it’s one that can be fixed with a “magic” little blue pill that magically does not make its way into the most vulnerable communities because of magical perpetual systematic roadblocks to health-care access for the Black poor.
Marriage is the war they call the rest of us queer folks to wage alongside them, even though it benefits them nearly exclusively. Its victory leaves in its wake only a struggle against a mysterious loneliness with causes that look very white to me, but what do I know. The struggle is not the continual casualties of Black trans women; that is just a footnote.
A Black queer Bayna El-Amin serves 9 years for being “a brute” and defending himself against them, despite his own queerness. A Black queer Michael Johnson serves 30 for being a “mandingo” and sleeping with them, because of the queer ways they’ve taught us to stigmatize his disease.
Hate crime laws take on their names even as Black queer kids face the brunt of this violence, because “white, angelic-looking, seemingly innocent” becomes a more “easily embraceable symbol.”
Black kids get charged with anti-white hate crimes now. Even the most progressive-seeming pieces of the law have a way of always coming back to haunt those its government was designed to enslave.
In my personal life, this is why white gay men have been able to become the primary enactors of violence toward me. By virtue of my queerness, I am forced into community with them, and their stories become mine even when I have never been given a chance to set the terms of how they should deal with my Blackness or non-maleness.
I cannot speak for Murphy’s intentions, and I hope what he creates is less of a white gay mess than what I expect. But the last time I went to a ball, I looked up to see all the white gays who paid extra for the VIP section looking down on the Black and Brown queer folks competing below and felt something safe and necessary was missing from that experience that had been there before. When white gay men look down from above at our stories, something is always missing. And when they re-tell those stories, you can bet that something will usually be missing then, too.
This isn’t a call for white gay men to stop telling queer stories. They wouldn’t listen to me if I asked them to do that, anyway. This is just to say that the rest of us queer folks don’t have to believe their stories are all of ours, or that ours should always be conflated with theirs. It’s to hoping that queer people of color continue creating our own stories, like we always have, despite what might seem like a moment where they are unnecessarily being created for us. And it’s to hoping that there always remain a few balls we don’t let the white gays/gaze know about for the sake of retaining the little remaining safety we have left.
Former British Caribbean colonies including Jamaica, Barbados and the Bahamas (Gaskins, 2013) have been the focus of psychological research on sexual orientation and homophobia in the Caribbean region (e.g., Kempadoo, 20042009Sharpe and Pinto, 2006). However, Caribbean culture is diverse (Hickling et al., 2009) and we know less about the perceptions and experiences of LGB individuals living in the French Antilles and former Dutch and Spanish colonies despite their distinct cultural identities and attitudes to sexual orientation (Kempadoo, 20042009Sharpe and Pinto, 2006Gaskins, 2013). This qualitative study focuses on this gap in the literature by exploring the perceptions and experiences of homophobia among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals living in St Lucia, an Eastern Caribbean Island with a British and French creolized, or , colonial history, culture and language. Homophobia is fear or intolerance toward people who are attracted to others of the same-sex (Remafedi, 2002Consolacion et al., 2004). This study focuses on the intolerance aspect of homophobia, and considers the meaning of skin complexion and location for the intolerance experienced by St. Lucian LGB people.
The 28 territories of the Caribbean have a population of over 35 million people (Baldacchino, 2015International Union for Conservation of Nature, 2016) and estimates suggest that 20% of the population identify themselves as non-heterosexual (McDonald, 2012). However, across the Caribbean region many Islands criminalize homosexual behavior (Human Rights Watch, 2004Hickling et al., 2009). All homosexual acts are illegal in Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados; and male homosexuality including sodomy and public displays of affection are illegal in Guyana and Jamaica but female homosexuality is not (Human Rights Watch, 2004Sheller, 2012). Some law enforcement agencies in the region fail to protect LGB individuals from homophobic hate crime; and some law enforcement officers themselves have been involved in harassment and attacks on men and women perceived to be homosexual (Human Rights Watch, 2004Becker, 2013Cloonan, 2013Stanislas, 2013a,b). The impunity of individuals who commit hate crimes against LGB individuals is likely to legitimize stigma, hatred, abuse, and discrimination against LGB individuals in various Caribbean societies (Smith, 2011Sheller, 2012Stanislas, 2013a,b). Consequently, many of the region’s LGB residents conceal and suppress their sexual identity to prevent social exclusion or criminalization (Stern, 2003Hickling et al., 2009). Thus, LGB people in the Caribbean have long struggled for social, cultural, and legal acceptance and tolerance (Coates, 2010Smith, 2011).
The prevalence of homophobia and homophobic abuse in Jamaica and other Caribbean Islands has been linked to high rates of family disownment, homelessness and loneliness within local LGB communities (Bourne et al., 2012). Homophobia has also contributed to some of the mental health issues experienced by LGB individuals in the region including their greater rates of depression, anxiety and substance misuse disorders compared to heterosexuals (King et al., 2006Addis et al., 2009White et al., 2010Milne, 2011Bourne et al., 2012). A study of stigma and discrimination experienced by homosexual men in Jamaica found that the majority of participants reported family disownment and being “shamed” into dropping out of school (Bourne et al., 2012). Stigma, discrimination, and homophobic violence led many to believe that their lives were less productive and that consequently their psychological health. This included feelings of depression, suicidality, and chronic sadness that they associated with suppressing and concealing their sexuality (Bourne et al., 2012). White et al. (2010) studied the mental health needs of LGB people in Jamaica and found 45% of their sample reported symptoms associated with major depression. Additionally, 69% met the criteria on the SCID-I/NP (Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR Axis I Disorders Non-Patient Edition) for ever having experienced one or more Axis I disorders (DSM-IV-TR) in their lifetime. White et al. (2010) attributed these mental health issues to the “high” incidence of homophobic abuse reported by their sample. Over 50% in their study reported experiencing homophobic abuse, such as name-calling, discrimination, violence, threats of violence, and harassment on more than three occasions each month. However, only a quarter reported incidents to the local authorities, and only 10% received counseling for the depression and trauma they perceived these events to cause. Thus, openness about sexual orientation strongly associated with increased incidences of sexuality-related abuse, violence, and harassment leading White et al. (2010) to link sexuality related openness with poorer psychological health.
Beyond Jamaica there is little published peer reviewed academic or other research on Caribbean LGB communities, making it difficult to understand the experiences of LGB individuals outside this Anglophone Island (Brown, 1997Sharpe and Pinto, 2006Kempadoo, 2009Nelson and Melles, 2010). Therefore, many Caribbean nations including St. Lucia lack evidence that could inform policy and practice designed to support the needs of their LGB communities (Gaskins, 2013). A small body of gray literature, particularly on tourism, the law and politics suggests Caribbean nations differ in their acceptance and tolerance toward LGB people. Homophobia is not entirely absent from Caribbean cultures. However, literature indicates that the French and Spanish Speaking Islands are more tolerant of homosexuality than English speaking Islands (e.g., Chevannes and Gayle, 2000Chevannes, 2001Reding, 2003Zimmerman, 2003Human Rights Watch, 2004Gorry and Miller, 2005Kempadoo, 2009Coates, 2010Nelson and Melles, 2010Porter and Prince, 2011Smith, 2011Careaga, 2011Stanislas, 2013a,bSáez, 2015). Evidence suggests historical characteristics of nations could underpin differences in homophobia across the Caribbean. Specifically, those that have a relatively stable Anglo-phone colonial history—Islands that remained predominantly under British colonial rule (e.g., Barbados)—appear more homophobic compared to those that remained predominantly under French and Spanish colonial rule (e.g., Guadeloupe and Cuba). Careaga (2011) explains how Islands that remained predominantly under British colonial rule seem “unable to shake off the influence of Victorian morality” (p. 1). This pattern suggests differences in ideological handovers from the regions colonial past have led to differences in homophobia across the Caribbean (Sharpe and Pinto, 2006Kempadoo, 2009). Moreover, some Caribbean Islands such as St Lucia have a relatively complex colonial past. St. Lucia has a British and French colonial history that has developed into a creolized (mixed) culture and language known locally as Baker and Jones, 2000McWhorter, 2000Paul, 2007St-Hilaire, 2011). Unlike other Islands, such as Barbados that remained predominantly British during colonial times, St. Lucian culture represents a unique hybrid of its ideological heritage from the region’s colonial past and it retains strong French socio-cultural ideologies, customs, and practices (Strazny, 2011). However, as a culture created from a fusion of what seems to be two opposing ideological extremities (French = tolerant of LGB people vs. English = intolerant of LGB people) it is unclear where the St. Lucian culture is positioned in relation to tolerance and acceptance of LGB people.
Given it’s deeply complex cultural heritage, St. Lucia presents a sufficiently different cultural context from that considered in previous research in the region. Therefore, considering St. Lucia can be instructive for how we view and understand homophobia in the Caribbean and the psychological impact of homophobia on LGB people. However, two issues complicate this further: the racialization and coloration of homosexuality and homophobia, and the “developed north” vs. the “underdeveloped south.”
This is one of the first qualitative studies exploring perceptions and experiences of homophobia amongst LGB individuals in St. Lucia, West Indies. The interviewees raised a number of serious concerns related to social and health issues. Their accounts suggest sexuality related stigma affects negatively the lives of LGB people in St. Lucia. One of the most noticeable similarities across participants‘ accounts is how the shade of LGB individuals‘ skin-color shapes others‘ tolerance of their sexual orientation. Participants described their experiences of skin-color oriented tolerance as fueled by the power of superiority held by light-skinned persons as the societal-elite. These experiences illustrate what might be the existence of a skin-color oriented hierarchy of tolerance toward LGB people. This could exist coherently alongside, and be reinforced by, the pigmentocractic structure of St. Lucian society (Gabriel, 2007Glenn, 2009). Additionally, given the pigmentocracy is widespread across the Caribbean (Tate, 20152016) this variation in perceptions and experiences of homophobia may not be unique to St. Lucia. Therefore, it is important to address this issue in research on other societies in the region.
Two possible conclusions that can be drawn from our findings: anyone who is lighter-skinned is treated better in St. Lucian Society regardless of sexuality, or being lighter-skinned is equated with being white and possessing cognitions and behaviors culturally associated with and ascribed to . Therefore, could being LGB be seen as expected for white and light skinned people? Other studies have shown that within many Afro-Caribbean and African-American communities, homosexuality is perceived as something belonging to the white race and unnatural for black persons (e.g., Ford, 2008). Consequently, it is likely that being LGB in St. Lucia is perceived as natural for white and light-skinned persons but unexpected for darker-skinned persons. This could fuel intolerance toward darker-skinned LGB people and greater tolerance may be another privilege of being “light-skinned” in St. Lucia.
Issues of intersectionality (Rodarte-Luna, 2008) are evident in interviewee’s accounts. Given the colonial history and pigmentocractic structure of St. Lucian society, racial identities in St. Lucia extend beyond broad rigid categories of Black, White, and Asian (etc.) to skin-shade identities (Gamman, 1994Wilton, 2005Hall, 2008Carter, 2013) and in St. Lucia these are white-skinned, light-skinned and dark-skinned (Gamman, 1994Cox, 2002Chivallon, 2011Malcolm, 2012). Participants‘ accounts suggest that being “dark-skinned” and “lesbian, gay, or bisexual” is unacceptable in St Lucian culture. These findings support existing literature that skin-shade identity is largely perceived as ” (Das Nair and Thomas, 2012. p. 97)—black on the outside, but “white” on the inside—to shame them for not prioritizing their racial identity and its associated behaviors (Das Nair and Thomas, 2012). For many Afro-Caribbean LGB people this form of shaming indicates that their community is not accepting of people who attempt to embrace both identities simultaneously (McKeown et al., 2010). For instance, in a study by McKeown et al. (2010), an interviewee stated:
Therefore, what does this mean for the development of healthy skin shade and sexual identities and experiences of psychological well-being in St. Lucia? Given the limited literature, it is reasonable to suggest that some dark-skinned LGB persons may experience a cognitive dissonance between the two identities of being dark-skinned and LGB. Opposing meanings and behavioral expectations ascribed to these two different identities (e.g., dark skinned = not homosexual) could elicit social, cultural, and psychological struggles when individuals attempt to fuse and embrace these two identities as was apparent in experiences of some of the interviewees in this study. This interpretation is also consistent with the work of Bhugra (1997) who documented the importance of racial identity in South Asian minorities in the UK and its impact on sexual identification and expression. He found also found a cognitive dissonance between individual’s ethno-racial and sexual identity. Many South Asian ethno-racial identities emphasize the importance of family and religion, and many of the LGB people in his study perceived this as clashing with their LGB identity. Due to this cognitive dissonance, many South Asian LGB people adopted a true selfNance, 2008).
In that case, are some dark-skinned LGB people more likely to develop unhealthy racial and sexual identities? The literature on the impact of skin color oriented tolerance on experiences of racial and sexual identity in St. Lucian society and culture is limited and requires further research. Nevertheless, it is possible that some dark-skinned LGB persons may develop healthy racial and LGB identities and psychological health in spite of skin color oriented tolerance when protective factors such as resilience and coping behavior are considered. For example, LGB individuals could vary in their use of prescribed western-centric labels of sexuality as a coping behavior. In a society where there is stigma toward dark-skinned persons who identify as LGB, some dark-skinned individuals attracted to the same-sex may dissociate their sexual practice from an identity they perceive socially stigmatized along with the Caribbean’s growing gay sceneHuman Rights Watch, 2004). Such a dissociation does not always mean that a person, whether dark or light skinned, has an unhealthy identity (e.g., Wellings et al., 2012). In western society it is largely thought that to obtain a healthy sexual and romantic subject-hood people need to subscribe to prescribed labels of sexuality e.g., lesbian and gay (Das Nair and Thomas, 2012). However, according to the work of Asthana and Oostvogels (2001) the use of rigid labels such as Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual is not common in the non-western societies, except among educated urban persons exposed to the western LGB scene. Even in societies where attitudes toward LGB persons have grown to be more positive, not all persons with sexual and romantic feelings toward the same-sex will identify as LGB (Wellings et al., 2012).
Previous literature highlights a range of cultural, educational and political disparities between the Northern and Southern region of St. Lucia; and some previously unexplored sexualities-related disparities were evident in our findings and in particular greater tolerance toward LGB people in the North than in the South. Previous studies have shown that rates of depression, stress, and suicidality are higher amongst LGB people who reside in communities where levels of homophobia are greater (Morgan, 2008Marshall, 2012). Given the lack of tolerance in the South, it is likely that Southern LGB people may experience poorer psychological health than their Northern peers but this remains relatively unexplored.
Given the greater level of intolerance toward LGB people in the South, sexual identity, desires and feelings.
Further research could focus on the psychological health implications of skin color oriented tolerance. Specifically, we recommend more research on the consequences of self-loathing amongst dark-skinned LGB people. Beyond racial self-identification in St. Lucia, light-skinned people have more education and higher occupational status and privilege than darker-skinned do. Thus, unlike their dark-skinned heterosexual peers, dark-skinned LGB people in St. Lucia might be faced with the dual challenges and stigmas of skin-color targeted homophobia and general skin-color oriented socio-occupational disadvantage and discrimination. Very few other people in society have to endure such stigmas simultaneously and to such an extent. Within such a societal framework, dark-skinned LGB people may experience issues of color self-loathing. We use the term “color self-loathing” to describe individuals who are happy and satisfied with their own broader racial-identity (e.g., Black or Asian etc.) but who have negative feelings toward their own skin-shade and skin-shade identity within their racial-group. This term is not to be confused with “racial self-loathing” or negative feelings toward oneself because of belonging to a specific racial group (Hall, 2008). Color self-loathing is an especially well-known and much discussed issue in Jamaica, a place suffering from an epidemic of skin bleaching (Kovaleski, 1999Charles, 2003Pierre, 2013). Clinical studies found a link between dark-skinned disadvantage, skin bleaching and the high rates of depression and substance misuse amongst the region’s darker-skinned community (Hall, 20102008David, 2013a,b). However, given the lack of research on LGB people in the Caribbean region, the issue of color self-loathing within the LGB community still remains relatively unexplored.
The findings also point to a need for additional research on the role of education on sexuality and homophobia in St. Lucia. Other studies have suggested that educational strategies, including schooling reform and educational campaigns, are important in reducing homophobia (e.g., Herek, 1984Eichstedt, 1996Black et al., 1999). While there is a lack of research investigating the effectiveness of these interventions in St. Lucia, psychologists have long presented findings in support of this proposition (e.g., Serdahely and Ziemba, 1984Ben-Ari, 1998Black et al., 1999). These studies suggest that increases in tolerance toward dark-skinned LGB people and LGB people in the South is possible. However, more research on education and sexuality in St. Lucia could improve our understanding of these issues, and inform culturally appropriate schooling reforms and educational campaigns specifically for St. Lucian society. Schooling differs between societies and cognitive styles differ between cultural groups (e.g., the way people receive, process, and make meaning of social and environmental information). Therefore, educational intervention strategies need to be culturally specific to change cultural attitudes (Ford et al., 1996Faiola and Matei, 2005Western, 2005).
Historically, researchers have neglected the lives of non-white LGB people (Anderson, 20092011Fisher, 2012) and very few researchers have examined specifically the experiences of Afro-Caribbean sexual minority persons based on their race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. The current study aimed to increase our knowledge of these issues by exploring the experiences of homophobia in St. Lucia. Our study revealed important issues experienced by St. Lucia LGB people: the shade of LGB individuals‘ skin-color shaped others‘ tolerance of their sexual orientation, and regionalized disparities exist in the level of tolerance toward LGB people. However, further studies should expand on the LGB people who were not represented in our study, including white LGB people (and LGB people from other racial backgrounds). Additionally, other non-heterosexual individuals who have experienced homophobia unreported in this study, such as those with a pansexual and asexual identity, might provide further insight into the socio-psychological experiences of homophobia in St. Lucia.
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Keywords: Caribbean, skin color, colorism, homosexuality, homophobia
Citation: Couzens J, Mahoney B and Wilkinson D (2017) “. 8:947. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00947
Received: 23 January 2017; Accepted: 23 May 2017; Published: 19 June 2017.
Copyright © 2017 Couzens, Mahoney and Wilkinson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
*Correspondence: Jimmy Couzens, bear-magazine.com
While I understand and agree with a lot of what the author is saying regarding power structures and how white gag men are privileged in the UK, I’m afraid he betrays his ignorance about bisexuals by lumping them in with the LGB category.
This is a really good point and I totally agree with you. Thanks for the feedback – I’m going to revise the article this morning in light of it.
[…] she was, laugh a minute even. Now, anyone who’s read my work on The Queerness will know that I am a big fan of the white cis gay man, huge even, so I didn’t find this response particularly […]
[…] is some of the fractures within the LGBTQ+ community itself. In terms of serious commentary, I see white cis gay men getting quite angry about freedom of speech, more so than about the struggles of other sections of […]
[…] gay men, as a whole, must do better. While we continue to dominate at almost every organisational level within the LGBTQ+ movement, we […]
The racialization and coloration of homosexuality and homophobia
Skin-color stratification is the differentiation of people by lightness and darkness of skin-shade and it continues to be a salient feature and socio-psychological issue in Caribbean societies and cultures (St-Hilaire, 2011). Pigmentocracy or socio-cultural hierarchy based on skin-color that systematically provides privilege based on lightness of skin, is central to St Lucian society (Crowley, 1956Lowenthal, 1972Potter, 2003Hickling et al., 2009St-Hilaire, 2011Malcolm, 2012Shirk and Edmond-Poli, 2012). Within a pigmentocractic society colorism, prejudice and discrimination against dark-skinned individuals are found to be at their peak (Gabriel, 2007Coates, 2010Bonilla-Silva, 2011Jablonski, 2012). Thus, pigmentocracy is a major cause of racial prejudice and separatism in St. Lucia (St-Hilaire, 2011). In St. Lucia, and in many Caribbean societies, pigmentocracy has instigated the creation of multiple skin-color identities (Gamman, 1994Grugel, 1995Cox, 2002Charles, 2008St-Hilaire, 2011). These identities are ascribed different levels of privilege and define behavioral expectations for members of the community (Bouson, 2000Reddock, 2004Kruijt, 2005Rosario, 2011St-Hilaire, 2011Cooper, 2012Flynn, 2012Shirk and Edmond-Poli, 2012Breland-Noble et al., 2016).
Within various Black-American and Black-Caribbean communities there is a racialized understanding of “(ab)normal” and “acceptable” sexual behavior for black persons (Fuss, 1995Napier, 2000Carbado, 2001Alexander, 2004Kornegay, 2004Hunter, 2005Silverman, 2005Ford, 200620082013Thomas, 2007Grosch, 2008Wahab and Plaza, 2009Das Nair and Thomas, 2012). Numerous communities perceive homosexuality as “something that white people do” and “blacks should not do” (Carbado, 2001, p. 250). Consequently, identifying as LGB clashes with what it means to be within many of these communities (King, 2004). Since the 1960s rap and dancehall music and culture have reified this philosophy and reinforced the belief that homosexuality is an attribute of white ethnicity and western culture (Carbado, 2001). For this reason some scholars describe dancehall and rap music as ideological weaponry that reinforce Caribbean socio-cultural anxieties in the form of colorism and homophobia (Dawe, 2004Nelson and Melles, 2010McGinley and Cooper, 2012).
However, we know relatively little about how skin-color intersects with sexuality in St Lucia and elsewhere in the Caribbean and whether it influences levels of tolerance and acceptance toward LGB individuals. Within a culture where homosexuality is perceived as belonging exclusively to white people and western cultures, it is possible that in St. Lucia skin-shade could impact on the level of sexuality related tolerance and hatred experienced by dark and light-skinned LGB individuals. Ford’s (20082013) work on the perceptions and experiences of gender roles in African-American communities informs this interpretation and they state that “lighter skinned or ‘pretty’ men are often implicitly connected with metro/homosexuality” (Ford, 2013, p. 31).
The idea that skin-shade could influence levels of tolerance and hatred toward LGB people in St. Lucia fits the pigmentocractic structure of St. Lucian society. It ascribes social identity, status, and privilege by lightness of skin-shade. This could mean that greater tolerance toward light-skinned LGB people is coherent with the ongoing privileges of lighter-skinned individuals and communities. Within this social context dark-skinned (known in —brown-skinned male) peers. Consequently, dark-skinned LGB people could also experience poorer psychological health than their lighter-skinned peers do. This interpretation is consistent with the work of Espejo (2008) who explored the experiences of colorism among male homosexual sex-workers in Thailand. Dark-skinned males were found to experience greater levels of discrimination than their lighter-skinned peers and as a result, their dark-skinned participants reported lower levels of self-esteem and self-worth (Espejo, 2008). Disconcertingly, there is little research on the role of skin-shade in experiences of homophobia and associated psychological health and well-being within and across black populations (Harley et al., 20022012). Thus, by exploring how skin-shade impacts on sexuality-related tolerance and thus the well-being of LGB people in St. Lucia, this study will be one of the first of its kind on Black populations.
There are studies about the dual stigma of homophobia and racism in Black-American populations that might inform the possible psychological health and well-being implications of skin-color oriented tolerance in St. Lucia. For example, Szymanski and Gupta’s (2009) study of African-American LGB people suggests they internalize their experiences of homophobia and racism leading to depression and depressive distress (also see (Gupta, 2008)). This suggests that the stigma of “skin-color oriented tolerance” that combines homophobia, racism and colorism into one may similarly be internalized and induce feelings of depression and depressive distress in some dark-skinned LGB people. This is also consistent with studies of intersectionality that explore how people experience and deal with overlapping and conflicting identities (Das Nair and Thomas, 2012). In a socio-cultural environment where it is unacceptable for dark-skinned persons to engage in sexual and romantic relationships with individuals of the same-sex, dark-skinned LGB people may experience conflict between identities of being dark-skinned and LGB. Consequently, some dark-skinned LGB people might be found to experience a cognitive dissonance between the openness and self-acceptance of their sexuality (Darry, 1989Eliason and Beemyn, 1996Moji et al., 2009). For instance, studies exploring experiences of homophobia in African-American communities have found that many LGB people report accepting their LGB identity but suppressing and concealing their sexual orientation in order to sustain a positive relationship with their family and community (Battle and Crum, 2007). Similarly, some dark-skinned LGB people might prioritize their dark-skinned identity, and suppress or conceal their LGB identity to sustain positive social relationships. This evidences what might be a cognitive dissonance between the awareness, acceptance, and openness of their sexuality. However, by denying and concealing sexual identity LGB people risk experiencing psychological health problems such as depression that are secondary to the suppression of their self, sexual identity, feelings, and desires (Kanel and Horn-Mallers, 2015). Sexual orientation concealment is also associated with chronic stress and anxiety, more day-to-day worry about others discovering one’s true sexual orientation, and having to maintain deceptions used to conceal one’s sexuality (Meyer, 2003Smith and Ingram, 2004).
The “developed north” vs. the “underdeveloped south”
Over the past two decades, scholars have reported the existence of cultural and economic disparities between the Northern and Southern region of St. Lucia. Southern communities are perceived as more poverty-stricken, traditional in their values and less educated than are communities in the North (Antoine, 1998Walcott, 1999St-Hilaire, 2011St. Lucia News Online, 2016). Socially and in academia the South is regarded as functioning using an outdated way of life and mind-set reflective of ideologies and values originating from British colonial rule (Antoine, 1998Walcott, 1999St-Hilaire, 2011). Although, Southern communities increasingly aspire to become more educated and modernized, there is still a lack of social integration between the North and South of the Island and a lack of capital investment in the Southern districts that might impede the Souths ability to achieve reform (Dabydeen, 1988Gamman, 1994Walcott, 1999St-Hilaire, 2011). In February 2016, Dr. Kenny Anthony, while Prime Minister of St. Lucia, directly acknowledged the educational and economic neglect of the South and vowed to create an equal capital investment initiative to ensure fair treatment of people in St. Lucia wherever they might be. Dr. Kenny Anthony, in a press release through St. Lucia News Online (2016), said:
“it’s a message that I have drummed into the National Insurance Corporation; emphasized time and time again that all financial investments should not be located in the North, in the Castries basin; that all workers of this country wherever they are located contribute to the resources of the National Insurance Corporation and they too must be part of the investment initiatives of the corporation.” (p. 1).
Nevertheless, how the North vs. South cultural divide has an impact on perceptions and experiences of homophobia is less clear. For example, if Southern communities are operating with an outdated mind-set reflective of ideologies and practices instilled during British colonial rule, they might have a more “victorianized” understanding of sexuality (Careaga, 2011). If so, they may be less culturally tolerant and more hateful toward LGB people (Zane, 1992Robinson, 2010Maritz, 2013). Additionally, the lack of education in Southern communities could foster negative attitudes toward LGB people. Studies from Jamaica show that educated people have more positive attitudes toward homosexuals than their lesser educated peers (Boxill, 2012). Studies have linked the intensity of homophobia in Jamaica to what is thought to be a “victorianized” understanding of sexuality instilled during times of British colonial rule (Careaga, 2011). Consequently, education may be an effective tool for moving “out” of the victorianized understanding of sexuality “to” a more accepting ideology. This is consistent with the well-documented associated between a lack of understanding of sexual and gender minorities and intolerance (Klesse, 2016).
Tourism infrastructure is a determinant of regional development that may also play a crucial role in reinforcing differing levels of tolerance and hatred toward LGB people between Northern and Southern regions. The St. Lucian economy depends primarily on tourism and it accounts for ~89.1% of the GDP (National Accounts, 2016). However, tourism investment and development is much greater in the North than in the South (Novelli, 2006Velde, 2008). Furthermore, the promotion of travel for pleasure between countries contributes not only to economic growth but also to the interchange of knowledge between citizens that helps promote greater mutual understanding and co-operation (Mings, 1988). Thus, given this lack of economic investment, Southern communities do not experience the educational benefit of knowledge exchange between diverse communities. This may further increase differences in levels of tolerance toward LGB people between the regions. For example, unlike Southern communities the social environment in the North could encourage greater knowledge and understanding of persons from different cultures with different lifestyles. Increasing knowledge and understanding of sexual and gender minorities may encourage greater tolerance toward LGB tourists, and this might foster greater tolerance toward LGB people from the local community. This interpretation is consistent with contact theory. Contact theory holds that social prejudice can be reduced by introducing a member of one group to another group in certain circumstances, such as when they have a common goal. In the case of tourism the common goal is to have a successful tourist industry that is satisfying for holiday makers and likely build and sustain the local economy. Moreover, perceptions and attitudes of residents toward the impact of tourism are likely to be an important planning and policy consideration for the successful development, marketing and operation of tourism programs (Ap, 1992Reisinger and Turner, 2011). The acceptance and tolerance of tourists by Northern residents, where much of the tourism industry is based, has been acknowledged as vital for the success of the tourism industry in St. Lucia (Thyne et al., 2007). This suggests that the Northern communities could have grown more tolerant of people whose behaviors and identities deviate from traditional St. Lucian values and norms. Consequently, research is needed to better understand how cultural differences between the Northern and Southern communities might impact St. Lucian LGB people’s experiences of intolerance. This is consistent with studies of homophobia in other former British colonies, with homophobia greater in rural regions of Zambia, Australia, and Nigeria for example. Researcher have attributed this geographical patterning to the lack of modernization and educational resources available within rural outer-district communities (Robinson, 2010Marini, 2011). Rates of depression are also higher within those areas compared to the modernized cities (Morgan, 2008Marshall, 2012). Therefore, if levels of intolerance are much greater in the South of St. Lucia, Southern LGB people might also experience poorer psychological health than their Northern peers.
Goldberg (2016), for instance, explains that between the North and South, it may have some negative impact on their psychological health and well-being. In particular, this could be the case for those living permanently in the South who may feel totally restricted in the expression of their LGB identity.
The present study
Existing literature alludes to the Caribbean as the “most homophobic region of the world” (Padgett, 2006Rowley, 2011), and past research demonstrates that homophobia in the region has had a profoundly negative impact on the psychological health and well-being of the regions Afro-Caribbean LGB populace (e.g., White et al., 2010). However, few empirical psychological studies have explored (1) sexuality and homophobia related experiences in creolized Caribbean cultures, and (2) possible factors that may make certain Black youth more or less vulnerable to homophobia in St. Lucia and across the wider Caribbean. This study sought to explore these issues by examining perceptions and experiences of homophobia in St Lucia, and how geographical patterning between the North and South of the island might be linked to skin-shade intolerance. Given this, the present study included the perspective of LGB people from the North and South of the Island, and people who ranged in skin shade identity. Additionally, including LGB people who markedly differed in age, socio-economic, and education status served two aims. First, this strategy facilitated the investigation of whether tensions of homophobia were similarly and differently experienced across Black St. Lucians. Second, it facilitated further exploration and theorizing regarding the shared perceptions and experiences of homophobia in St. Lucia. Consequently, thematic analysis was employed to investigate the following question: How do skin color and regional disparities in culture impact experiences of homophobia in St. Lucia?
A purposive sample of nine participants (male homogenous. However, in the specific context of this study, the interviewees were considered homogenous as they identified as non-heterosexuals who live in St. Lucia, and thus had relevant knowledge and experience of homophobia or the dislike and hatred of persons attracted to others of the same-sex. In light of the nature of our target population (hidden and hard to track) the lead researcher (JC), as a gay male of St. Lucian background with an existing rapport with the target population, used contacts and networking to recruit participants.
The participants identified as members of the Afro-Caribbean and specifically Black St. Lucian, community. However, in respect of the pigmentocractic structure of St. Lucian society and the nature of this research, participants also provided information about their skin-shade identity. There are over 110 skin-shade identities in St. Lucia that can be categorized broadly into three overarching identifies: white-skinned, light-skinned, and dark-skinned (Gamman, 1994Chivallon, 2011Cox, 2002Malcolm, 2012). Four participants identified as light-skinned, known in Chaben = 1).
Following University ethical approval, adverts were placed in LGB media, handouts, and posters to recruit participants. The participants underwent an initial screening with the lead researcher (JC) prior to their participation in the research. If they were suitable for the study they were sent further information to ensure they were aware of all the specificities of the study and their right to withdraw from the study at any time. There was no element of deception within this study and the information sheet provided the participants with all the information necessary for them to make an informed decision about whether to participate. Inclusion criteria required participants to be 18 years of age or older, and to self-identify as LGB and St. Lucian.
On the day of the interview, the participants were required to sign a consent form. The data was collected through face-to-face one-to-one semi-structured interviews. The interviews were conducted in a quiet conference suite of a local business and at a local library, and participants were compensated for their travel. The lead researcher (JC) conducted the interviews in English. To protect the identity of the participants, the research team ascribed pseudonyms to each of the interviewees.
A conversational approach was used throughout, allowing interviewees to contribute toward the direction of the discussion. Broad open questions with prompts (available on request) were used to allow for the emergence of related but unexpected issues. The interview questions were developed following a review of existing literature and were as follows:
• How do would you describe your sexuality and sexual identity?
• Would you consider your sexuality and sexual identity to be an important element of what defines you as a person? And would you be comfortable with the researcher addressing and describing you as lesbian/gay/bisexual in this research?
• Would you begin by describing your experiences as a lesbian/gay/bisexual persons in the St. Lucia? Can you provide some examples?
• Whereabouts do you live on the island? And do you also work in the district in which you reside?
• Have you ever had the experience of working outside the area where you live? If so, what were your experiences?
• If not, what is your perception of working in the different districts?
• What are your thoughts and experiences of homophobia in the North and the South?
• How do you feel about the skin shade and race issues in St. Lucia?
• What are your thoughts on skin shade and sexuality? Has it ever affected your experiences?
All psychological health and well-being related questions were flexible depending on each interviewee’s responses. The general protocol for using the follow-up questions was as follows:
• I spotted on question ….…you said “………” would you mind explaining a little more about this?
• Could you explain what you mean when you said “…………”?
• How did that experience make you feel and did it have any impact on you?
• Can you tell me a bit about whether the experience had any impact on your health and well-being?
Each interview lasted ~50 min, and was audio recorded and transcribed. All of the transcripts were checked for wording and grammatical errors, and all personal identifiers were removed. Once complete, the transcripts were then sent to the interviewees for member checking (allowing the interviewees the check the accuracy of transcripts) and the interviewees were given 3 weeks to review the transcripts and report any discrepancies or concerns. All of the interviewees returned the transcripts confirming satisfaction with their accuracy. Although, there was no element of deception within the study, participants were still given a full debrief to ensure that they understood fully the nature of the study and check that they did not want to withdraw their data.
Subtheme: light-skin supremacy
Most interviewees had experienced and witnessed how the shade of LGB individuals‘ skin-color shaped others tolerance of their LGB sexual orientation. They described how greater tolerance was shown toward lighter-skinned LGB individuals compared to their darker skinned peers. This is exemplified by Jamal, who self-identified as “dark-skinned gay male,” when describing his experience of “coming out” to his friends, family, and local community:
Interviewees who self-identified as light-skinned also reported experiencing greater levels of tolerance toward their sexuality including when they exhibited gender non-normative behavior. For instance, Jahmal, who self-identifies as a “light-skinned gay male,” explained that his colleagues and friends tolerate his sexuality even when he exhibits feminine behaviors:
As product of skin color oriented tolerance, the participants explained that it is not acceptable to simultaneously have and embrace the identities of being “dark-skinned” and “LGB.” This signifies what might be skin color oriented identity intersectional issues for some LGB people in St. Lucia. John, a male who self-identified as gay and “dark-skinned,” said:
As part of this skin-color oriented tolerance interviewees reported experiencing and witnessing darker skinned LGBs undergoing homophobic bullying, violence, and discrimination that was worse than that experienced by their lighter skinned peers. When asked to explain experiences of this cultural phenomenon, Leyroy, who self-identified as a “dark-skinned gay male,” compared his experiences to those of his lighter skinned LGB friends:
Marionette, 46-year-old self-identified light-skinned Bisexual, also explained that:
As a result of their experiences, the interviewees reported perceiving St. Lucian society and culture as being unaccepting and intolerant of dark-skinned persons engaging in sexual and romantic relationships with same-sex individuals. Rochelle, who self-identified as a “light-skinned Lesbian” described this as follows:
The interviewees attributed their experiences of this tolerance to the superior power and socio-occupational privilege held by lighter-skinned persons as the societal elite. Martin, a self-identified light-skinned gay male, summarized this in the following way:
Similarly, Zanthe, a self-identified “light-skinned bisexual,” also said that:
Many interviewees also described that the social privileges attached to being light-skinned had consequences for how LGB individuals‘ expressed their sexuality. Some experienced and witnessed dark-skinned LGB individuals undergoing greater socio-cultural pressure to conform to heterosexuality. Marionette, explained that:
A number of interviewees spoke about concealing their sexuality to avoid the racially targeted homophobic tension, discrimination and hostility toward dark-skinned LGB people. This is exemplified by Nathan, who said that:
Sub-theme: acceptance through education
Interviewees reported interpreting differences in the levels of tolerance toward dark-skinned LGB people based on their education level and occupation. For example, before Jamal became a Physician he worked in a retail store and between these occupations he interpreted differences in the way others reacted toward him as a “dark-skinned gay male”:
Similar accounts were also recorded by three other interviewees. For example, Priscilla, who self-identified as “dark-skinned Lesbian,” explained that obtaining higher education is a means of climbing what she described as the color caste system. Through education she explained that she was afforded privileges (including others increased acceptance of her non-heterosexuality) which would have otherwise only been available to her light skinned peers. Priscilla said:
Sub-theme: health consequences
The interviewees interpreted the psychological health outcomes of homophobia in St. Lucia as largely dependent on the skin-shade of the LGB individual, with darker skinned LGB individuals appearing to experience poorer psychological health. One of the most noticeable issues was the depression experienced by dark-skinned LGB people. For example, when asked how their experiences impact on their life, Priscilla explained:
Others described feeling chronic anxiety and stress, secondary to the day-to-day worries and fears associated with racially targeted homophobic intolerance and hatred of dark-skinned LGB person. Maria, a 32-year-old self-identified dark-skinned Lesbian, described that:
As a result of their experiences and their psychological impact, some self-identified dark-skinned interviewees reported seeking the help of medical professionals. John reported experiencing depression and anxiety as a result of the abuse and discrimination he experienced and explained that:
Sub-theme: tolerance and safety
The interviewees experienced what they interpreted as cultural differences in levels of tolerance toward LGB people between the Northern and Southern region of St. Lucia. They described experiencing and witnessing greater levels of socio-cultural tolerance in the North and less in the South. Zanthe, a female who lives in the South but commutes to the North for work purposes, explained that:
Interviewees also reported experiencing and witnessing greater levels of homophobic violence and discrimination in the South compared to the North. For instance, Jamal described his experiences:
The interviewees described the North as a popular destination for tourists and as the center of St. Lucian tourism. They interpreted tourism as contributing positively toward the greater level of tolerance they experienced within the Northern region. They explained that Northerners are raised in an environment of greater diversity than their Southern peers allowing them to interact socially with those of different religions, sexualities, and ethnicities. Consequently, many interviewees explained that this led those in the North to have “better” understanding and tolerance of differences in sexuality. When asked to elaborate on her experiences between the North and South, Priscilla explained that:
The issue of tourism was further exemplified by Marionette:
Through interacting with LGB people, the interviewees explained that Northerners bettered their intellectual understanding of sexuality that improved their levels of tolerance. Jamal, a gay male who spent his childhood growing up in the South but now lives in the North, explained that:
Interviewees also reported experiencing what they interpreted as differences in individuals‘ understanding of same-sex relationships between the North and the South. They described Southern communities as perceiving same-sex relationships and homosexuality as life choices that individuals can control. When asked to explain why living in the North makes him happier, Leyroy explained:
The interviewees also linked Southern intolerance toward LGB people with the lack of educational resources available in Southern communities. Some interviewees perceived a lack of education as leading to specific lay theories of sexuality that encouraged Southern intolerance:
Stress, anxiety, and safety were issues also vocalized by the participants. In light of experiencing and witnessing greater levels of intolerance in the South, interviewees reported feeling safer in Northern towns and villages on the Island, and feeling stressed, scared, and anxious when in Southern towns. Martin who works in the North, but commutes to the South for work purposes, explained that
The issue of personal safety is further exemplified by John:
Sub-theme: regionalized passing
Interviewees described altering how they presented their sexual identity when commuting between the Northern and Southern districts. When in the South interviewees reported presenting their sexual identity to others as heterosexual. When asked about his experiences of traveling between the North and the South, one participant explained:
“ “I have to act like a straight man for my own safety.”
Interviewees also described how they decided to alter how they presented their sexuality when commuting from the Southern to the Northern region, shifting from a heterosexual identity back to their “true” LGB identity in both social and occupational settings. In the psychology of human sexuality, this type of identity shifting is known as . When asked “why” they regionally shift their sexual identity, interviewees explained that they felt safer in the Northern region and thus able express their true sexual orientation more openly in the North of the Island. One participant explained:
Thus, for the interviewees, shifting their public sexual identity was a protective strategy against anticipated homophobia, discrimination and abuse. Maria, who lives in the North and commutes to the South, explained:
When asked what she means by “what people are like around there,” she explained that
Although, interviewees openly expressed their LGB identity in the North, all interviewees revealed that they also conceal their sexual orientation when at work to prevent what they perceived as job based discrimination based on her sexuality. Zanthe, said:
All of the interviewees reported feeling anxious and distress every time they had to conceal their “true” sexual identity in the South. For many interviewees shifting of sexual identity meant that they could not be their true inner self and that this concealment induced feelings of depression. The participants explained that their experiences of anxiety stemmed from day-to-day worry about losing their job or relationship with friends and family in the South. This was worsened by being worried that their deception of concealing their sexuality would be discovered:
Donald trump’s top “lgbt” supporters are largely gay white men
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As lgbtq+ equality moves forward, we are increasingly presented with the selfishness of the white cis gay man. jon b gives his opinion on why gay men need to do better by the rest of the lgbtq+ community.
This may seem like a somewhat theatrical way to open an article that admittedly already has a title seemingly drawn from the annals of ‘How To Achieve The Best Click-Bait’ but, after a number of false starts, it seemed the best and most succinct manner in which to begin.
OK, let’s issue the disclaimer right now. No, not all white cis gay males are selfish. Yes, the way I have opened the article is deliberately provocative because it seems to draw on a certain stereotype. Nevertheless, as with many stereotypes it proceeds from a grain of truth, however hard that may be for anyone’s wounded gay pride to accept. Now that we’ve dealt with the perceived threat to ‘gay pride’ implied by my statement, let’s progress.
There has been a shift in the last ten to fifteen years, and it worries me. Gay men have changed, and not for the better. Nowhere is this change more evident than in our friend, lover and adversary all rolled into one – the beast that is ‘social media’. There are likely many reasons for this change, foremost among them being the gains that gay men have enjoyed as a result of improvements in ‘LG equality’, such as civil partnerships and equal marriage. We can now, to quote Ewan McGregor, ‘Choose Life’ in the most heteronormative manner that we like. (I’m aware I just showed my age there. Anyone confused by the reference should google Trainspotting.)
Gay men have changed, and not for the better. Nowhere is this change more evident than in our friend, lover and adversary all rolled into one – the beast that is ‘social media’.
Nevertheless, as with any such legal and social gains, either real or perceived, it is men who invariably rise to the top. Firstly, it was not an oversight on my part earlier to refer to improvements in ‘LG equality’ and not ‘LGBTQ+ equality’. The ‘progress’ made for those in the BTQIA subsets of our wider community does not in any way, shape or form live up to that achieved for LG people and within that, it is often the experience and needs of gay men that seem to be the drivers of change. If you need evidence of that, consider how often ‘equal marriage’ is referred to as ‘gay marriage’.
As both government and society have sought to redress the inequalities of the LG position (again, deliberate usage there), some within our community have become more comfortable, probably as a result of feeling more ‘normalised’. Or rather, the main beneficiaries have become more comfortable, and those who have gained the most are those at the top of the privilege totem; the white cis gay men. If you just rolled you eyes at that statement then it’s a sign that you actually need to open them more widely. Step into any ostensibly ‘queer’ space and look around at who you see dominating, or go online where the voices of, for example, queer POC are systematically ignored or silenced. Denying the fact that gay men have a position of privilege within the community is nothing more than crass ignorance.
Privilege in itself is not as much of a problem if people are aware of it and are proactive in trying to break it down, or using their privileged position to redress the balance between themselves and others. Unfortunately, so many white cis gay men fall into two camps (no pun intended): those who are blissfully ignorant of their position; or, more worryingly, those who consciously enjoy their privilege too much to care about others. White cis gays are often the ‘poster boys’ of our community; they’re sexy, successful, outgoing, SO funny that you could lose a rib just listening to them and, what’s more, they can now get married and be part of ‘normal society’.
Those who have gained the most are those at the top of the privilege totem; the white cis gay men. If you just rolled you eyes at that statement then it’s a sign that you actually need to open them more widely.
It’s almost like someone has played a very clever game of divide and conquer. By making gay men happier, more confident, secure, wealthy and powerful, ‘progress’ has actually worked against the LGBTQ+ community as a whole. Gay men care less about the rest of the community and, in a wider sense, they care less about society as a whole. It stands to reason when you think about it, I mean if they scarcely care about those outside their own subset of the LGBTQ+ community why on earth should we expect them to care about the wider picture, i.e. issues such as human rights?
This is a powerful and, I’m sure to some, rather offensive notion, which needs to be deconstructed to be fully understood. Race is pretty good starting point. [Please note that dropping ‘cis’ from this point onwards is a deliberate, temporary action.] Put simply, racism pervades the ‘gay scene’. Let’s just take a moment to consider this: it’s 2015 and we still have a situation where white gay men are more likely than not to fetishise BME men due to lazy and pervasive stereotypes. A recent article by FS magazine exposed truly staggering levels of prejudice amongst white gay men, with one of the quotes including ‘I actually feel physically sick at the sight of too much black flesh’. It’s very easy for white gay men to downplay such notions as the exception rather than the norm, but the evidence presented would actually suggest the opposite and, in fact, that for many BME men, racism on ‘the scene’ is a bigger issue for them than day-to-day homophobia.
This begs the question, where on earth is the sense of shared struggle that you would expect from white gay men? The LGBTQ+ community is one that has, historically, been bound together by a sense of shared struggle. Surely, you would expect that white gay men, being part of a minority group themselves, would identify and empathise with members of another ‘minority group’, especially one that has a shared sexual identity? The answer would appear to be no. This forces one to ask how many of the same white gay men will happily describe WOC as ‘fierce’, and ‘fanboy’ over them, whilst only seeing BME men’s value in their preconceived notions of the size of their genitalia?
It’s 2015 and we still have a situation where white gay men are more likely than not to fetishise BME men due to lazy and pervasive stereotypes.
Whilst it is not my intention to simply rehash evidence presented elsewhere, there is another aspect of the FS study into racism that is deserving of attention, and that is use of language by white gay men. We’re probably all accustomed to the use of hateful language online, as we all know that it’s easier for people to be bullies, or to be prejudicial behind the safety of a lovely laptop, tablet or phone screen. Therefore it was saddening, but unsurprising, to hear that BME men were the subject of racist comments and taunts on dating apps, but what was more staggering was the sheer number of racist comments delivered face-to-face or in general social settings, such as bars and clubs. Yet again, it would seem that white gay men happily feel empowered enough to express their racial prejudices quite openly. The white gay man rules ‘the club’, so why not?
I’m aware, of course, of the objections that could be made to this to argument. I’m guessing they’re something along the lines of this: ‘Not all white gays do that…’; or ‘but black people face racism in all walks of life, but just on the scene…’. But let’s be frank about it; if you make either of these pitiful apologies for the racism of white gay men then you are not doing enough. So what if POC face prejudice elsewhere? That shouldn’t be a justification of ignoring it in your haste to get to the bar for a gin and tonic, probably getting served before a POC just because… And again, where is the sense of solidarity? Are queer spaces only fully safe and accepting for you if you’re not a POC, or trans? Yet again, it strikes me that this issue is getting progressively worse because white cis gay men have gained the most from the improvements made to the position of LGBTQ+ people. They don’t need to identity with POC as much because they’ve become more empowered, and they don’t care about others within the community because they like to be the ‘poster-boys’ of the LGBTQ+ movement. The irony is that white gay men would likely have identified more with their BME counterparts twenty years ago because they would have felt more of a sense of shared struggle. Now it’s easier for white gay males to ‘rise to the top’, and they like that.
Yet again, it would seem that white gay men happily feel empowered enough to express their racial prejudices quite openly. The white gay man rules ‘the club’, so why not?
White cis gay men have always struggled to do better in terms of trans issues. It’s almost as if the whole notion of intersectionality is some sort of myth. I cast my mind back 15 years to one particular bar I was fond of attending, which was popular with a great number of trans women; they would sit on one particular side of the bar where, invariably, they would face open verbal mockery or, at the very least, receive withering looks from the rest of the overwhelmingly white cis gay customers. Fast forward to 2015 and things are scarcely much better. Indeed, the social media explosion heralded by sites such as Facebook and Twitter has shown an awful that a huge amount of crass ignorance and transphobic rhetoric is still prevalent amongst the gay community. This is, on the surface, offset by admiration for high-profile trans figures such as Paris Lees, Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner. But in equal measure, ostensibly ‘queer spaces’ are still places where trans people are gawped at by white cis gay men, many of whom still feel little need to lower their voices when they utter slurs such as ‘oh look, the trannies are in’.
Just as with issues of race, there seems to be a disconnection in the heads of many white cis gay males between the history of their own struggle and the current struggle faced by other members of their community. As much as David Cameron or Tony Blair may point to the achievements of their respective governments in moving ‘equality’ forward, they have done little to advance the position of trans people, either legally or in terms of social attitudes. The fact that one part of the LGBTQ+ community has gained so much in comparison to its other constituent elements means that, once again, it fails to give a damn about another group – unless, of course, they’re high-profile and ‘can pass’.
Another excellent example of the selfishness of the white cis gay male can be seen in his attitude towards ‘pinkwashing’. This is a very inconvenient truth for the average gay man who wants to join the party in Israel, as it so inconveniently gets in the way of all the fabulous fun that could be had in Tel Aviv. In recent years, Israel has been promoted as some sort of fabulous mecca for LGBTQ+ rights. Well, were true, this notion represents (at best) an attitude tantamount to ‘who cares just as long as we’re ok?’. It’s hardly groundbreaking to suggest that the marketing of this position to affluent cis gay men is a convenient way to distract from the human rights abuses that are widespread in Gaza and the West Bank. But who cares about that when there’s a good party and lots of hot boys in their underwear in a club in Tel Aviv? Who cares about the plight of the Palestinian people, or violations of international law, just as long as the gays get their party? Yet again, it is testament to the fact that there is little to no identification with or empathy towards a group of people engaged in their own struggle.
There seems to be a disconnection in the heads of many white cis gay males between the history of their own struggle and the current struggle faced by other members of their community.
But then, we don’t need to actually go overseas to find more evidence of the insular selfishness of the white cis gay male. It’s easy enough to find examples of it here in the UK, in the ambivalent attitude towards the impact of the current and previous government’s austerity measures. Those gay men who laud the achievements of the Coalition/Conservative government since 2010 seem unmoved by the disproportionate impact that austerity has had upon LGBTQ+ people. In the period up to September 2014, leading LGBTQ+ mental health charity PACE lost up to 50% of its funding and had to cease its HIV prevention work, according to a TUC report. Even more evidence of the disproportionate impact of austerity was demonstrated by a recent surveyAlbert Kennedy Trust, which revealed that LGBT people comprise 24% of youth homelessness, a hugely disproportionate figure. Conservative policies such as the abolition of housing benefits for under 21-year-olds pay little regard to the fact that the family home might not be a safe space for every LGBTQ+ person. Perhaps this is yet again because the image policy makers have in their minds is that of the nice, clean-cut white cis gay youth with supportive parents because, let’s face it, it *is* 2015, so we should just assume that coming out is a walk in the park. There’s little appreciation of the struggle of LGBTQ+ POC, some of whom may be suffering from abuse such as forced heterosexual marriage, or those rejected by their families for being trans or queer. This all comes at a time when violent crime against LGBTQ+ people (an often under-reported phenomenon) is on the increase.
This is only the tip of a rather considerable iceberg of evidence, and you would imagine that such statistics would outrage every LGBTQ+ person – but they don’t. The evidence certainly doesn’t have much impact on members of LGBTQ+ groups who actively support a government whose policies have worsened life for so many LGBTQ+ people, groups such as LGBTory, who go strangely quiet when challenged with evidence about cuts to LGBTQ+ support services. Why don’t they care about it? Well, a quick perusal of the LGBTory Twitter account pretty much answers that question – the endless pictures of people featuring a variety of ‘I kissed a Tory’ themed paraphernalia are, not always but certainly for the main part, dominated by white cis, London-centric gay males. At the recent Conservative Party conference, a number of people sought to question @LGBToryUK about the lack of diversity reflected by this tweet.
Many users, particularly POC, reported that the only response they received to questioning the composition of this panel was a ‘block’ from the administrators of the account. Whilst I am aware that I am opening myself to the charge of attempting to dictate people’s political affiliations, the point remains that I cannot understand how LGBTQ+ people can be so blinkered regarding the impact that the Conservative Party has had upon our community in the last five years. But then, when I see pictures of predominately white, cis gay men at LGBTory events, I feel I understand this more. The conspicuous affluence serves to demonstrate that issues of LGBTQ+ poverty and the need for support don’t affect them, so they don’t care about the people who are affected. Even the term ‘LGBTory’ is betrayal of our community because the T in that acronym represents their party, not trans people. It’s simply not good enough to argue that this doesn’t mean a Conservative commitment to trans issues; sometimes things appear exactly how they are, and it’s not as if this political party can boast significant achievements in this area. When you can actually engage such gay men in debate, as opposed to being cold shouldered by them, you quickly come to realise that it is more important to them to assert their right to vote for whom they want and express outrage at you challenging them for this choice, than it is for them to consider members of their own community who are adversely affected by the party they champion. Oh but remember, the Conservatives delivered ‘Gay Marriage’ (sic), so that makes everything hunky dory.
In the period up to September 2014, leading LGBT mental health charity PACE lost up to 50% of its funding and had to cease its HIV prevention work, according to a TUC report.
One of the most recognisable campaigning taglines of recent years is ‘It gets better’. But increasingly, I am led to wonder exactly who ‘it’ is ‘getting better’ for. It’s an uncomfortable and ironic truth, however, that life getting better for one part of our community is increasingly encouraging it to the leave the rest of our community behind. White cis gay males have been able to close the privilege gap between themselves and their cisgender heterosexual counterparts, and many of them like it so much that they are willing to let those less fortunate than themselves, in their community and in the wider world, go to the dogs.