This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness. Many of you are familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky.
Oh we have another overdose of straight privilege. VIBE magazine interviewed rapper T.I. and let us all see his homophobic arse as he put on his privilege glasses to speak out against the terrible scourge of gays oppressing straight folks. The relevant section on the VIBE’s website:
“Man, I will say this, the funniest joke I ever heard Tracy say during a stand-up was, ‘C’mon man, I think gay people are too sensitive. If you can take a dick, you can take a joke.’ [Cracks up laughing.] That shit was funny to me. And it’s kind of true.’ While T.I. makes clear that he supports anyone’s sexual preference, he then connects, in his opinion, a current oversensitivity among gay people with a consequential and ironic offense of the First Amendment. “They’re like,‘If you have an opinion against us, we’re gonna shut you down.’ … That’s not American. If you’re gay you should have the right to be gay in peace, and if you’re against it you should have the right to be against it in peace.”
So much fail in so little space, let us count the ways.
First of all, precious straight people, we do not have the power to “shut you down.” Shockingly enough, as a marginalised body we’re actually pretty limited when it comes to world wide control. No, contrary to what you may have heard about the gay agenda, the gay godfather has not managed to enforce a Gayocracy . We don’t have the power to shut you down or censor you or silence you. Pretending that straight privilege is being oppressed and persecuted this way is grossly offensive. Pretending that we’re managing to push a campaign of censorship on straight people spouting homophobia is completely disregarding that we are marginalised
So what do we actually have here? Criticism, outrage, offence. We have gay people who are furious by slurs and insults and dehumanisation. Dehumanisation that, of course, continually makes us a target for discrimination, persecution and violence. Which, yes we are very “sensitive” about. This language, this language of victimisation, of demeaning us, costs us. We are constantly belittled and reduced – at best we’re a joke, a punchline – at worst we’re a threat that needs to be beaten and destroyed or something disgusting that needs to be derided, ridiculed and driven out. This “humour” we’re so sensitive about costs lives, TI. So yes, we’re extremely “sensitive” about it – because I have enough self-respect to say that, despite what straight homophobes like you say, that I actually have value as a person.
So, say what you mean straight man. You’re not objecting to us shutting you down, you’re objecting to us presuming to speak. The precious freedom of speech of straight bigots like yourself apparently means that we should be silent (freedom of speech of gay people? That would be a distraction! Now be silent and listen to some more homophobia!) we shouldn’t criticise and we shouldn’t be offended.
Is that our “right to be gay in peace” then? Our right to be gay in peace is the right to shut up and take whatever the straight folk dish out? And the right to be a homophobe and a bigot (which is what “against it” means; nice to see that TI sees these things to be of equal value and importance) means you should be free to speak whatever hatred, whatever dehumanisation without anyone being allowed to criticise, object, boycott or even vocalise the pain caused.
And, guess what? If you are a homophobic bigot (which is what “have an opinion against us” means, though you’ve got to love how this privileged straight guy dances around, diminishing and dismissing bigotry) I will oppose you. I will fight you and I will do be level best to push against you. I’m not going to sit back and be quietly victimised. I’m not going to silently listen to someone dehumanise me. I’m not going to sit there and take it quietly so clueless straight folks aren’t offended by the presumptuous gay guy who dares to speak out of turn and smile nicely while we’re stomped down. And no, I adamantly refuse to accept that your “rights” are being challenged by my not sitting back and taking it – but maybe your privilege is being questioned. And we can’t have that, can we?
Oh and that joke? That joke is not even slightly funny. It’s offensive, it’s grossly insulting. We continue the endless obsession with our sex lives, we dismiss gross stereotyping as a “joke” and our objections and dismissed as “oversensitive” and we’re told to just “take it.” That’s offensive, it’s homophobic and people who say it and defend it are homophobes. And let’s not forget that what Tracy Morgan is talking about “taking a joke” there is when he spoke about stabbing his son if he thought the boy was gay. Stabbing children! Hilarious! How oversensitive do you have to be to not chuckle at some child stabbing? Hmmm, or is it just stabbing gay kids that’s so amusing? Yes, this is the evil gay shutting you down again by daring to be offended! By presuming to criticise bigotry! How dare I, really! Clearly I am getting above myself to presume to speak against straightness.
(And “sexual preference”? Really? Why not throw in “gay lifestyle” and be done with it?)
This whole interview can be summed up with “how dare those gays criticise bigots!” Sadly, this is not unique or even remotely uncommon. Homophobia hatred raises its ugly head and then we get a wave of privileged, clueless straight people enabling that bigotry with defence – and then the second wave of more over-privileged homophobes wailing because their bigotry is challenged and we don’t just keep silent and take it.
I’m sick of it – homophobia is bigotry and it’s just as harmful and destructive as any other bigotry out there – it shouldn’t be defended, it shouldn’t be excused and it shouldn’t be coddled.