Hey all! I just sat through this lecture and wanted to share my notes.
About the speaker.
Kenyon Farrow is the former executive director of Queers for Economic Justice. He can be found at http://kenyonfarrow.com/
He also wrote the piece: Is Gay Marriage Anti-Black?
Keep in mind these are my notes from a lecture, so if you have burning questions go ahead and ask but I might not be able to expand upon/explain ALL aspects of Kenyon’s points. This was written live as he spoke so they are the product of me trying to catch all of his points and write them down, so there is a lot of paraphrasing going on. I hope my notes make sense haha…
Is Gay The New Black
- Kenyon Farrow
Over the last 3 years the LGBT community has been “a buzz” with this phrase “Gay is the new black!”
- The idea that gay is the new black, while not new, exploded in the mainstream discourse recently with the election of Obama and the passage of Propisitions 8.
- The phrase infers that 1) the struggles of the LGBT is tantamount to the struggles of Blacks in the civil rights movement and that 2) sexual orientation and gender identity is the “NEW” social oppression.
But is gay actually the new black or is this political deceit?
- While homophobia still exists, gay is NOT the new black. OLD black is the new black
- Many in the white LGBT community felt betrayed by the “black community” when exit polls revealed that 70% of black voters in California voted in favor of prop. 8. – Especially when this was right after they went and voted for Obama. Arguments: “we did you a favor by voting for Obama” (as if Mccain and Palin was ever an option anyway)
- Dan Savage, white gay sex columnist, wrote the next morning a post on “black homophobia.” Savage: “I’m tired of pretending that the handful of racist white gay men is more of a problem than homophobic blacks are to the entire gay community. I’ll eat my shorts if white gay & lesbian voters voted for Mccain at the rates that blacks did for Prop. 8” [it turns out, it was later revealed that it was really just 57% of the black population that voted against – numbers that were significantly closer white & Hispanic voter rates.] also, black voters only made up 7% of the population of California! If every black person didn’t show up that day, Prop. 8 still would have passed.
- Ever since prop. 8 “gay is the new black” became the LGBT rally cry – insinuating that race is no longer a factor in America. – However, the phrase is a shallow read of the real problems POC deal with in terms of racism in America. It also reveals the issues within the LGBT movement in dealing and understanding issues of racism.
The “no on 8” campaign
- Outside political consultants came in and completely disregarded the input of local LGBT residents
- LBGT POC offered to organize in their own communities, translate documents into Spanish etc… couples offered to go on TV to discuss how the proposition will affect their families… they were either dismissed or given too few resources.
- The campaign strategy was “don’t talk about race, religion or sex.” The strategy was to intentionally ignore those issues. Also, the strategy was to target middle class white female voters.
- When people feared that Obama’s candidacy would harm the campaign, so it began became an issue of “how do we suppress black voters” AS OPPOSE TO just hiring someone to target black communities (until 7 days before the election). Black LGBT organizations that desperately wanted to get involved were ignored & given no resources to spread the word to their communities.
- Farrow: if the strategy was to target middle class white women voters was it really a surprise that a majority of black voters didn’t vote against the proposition. Now I’m not saying that ANYONE should have voted for the proposition but the assumption that blacks went en mass to vote for prop 8 is untrue?
Gay as the “new second class citizenship”
- Lets be clear, prop. 8 is not the same as the Dred Scott decision – where it was decided by the supreme court that black people were not citizens, were slaves, and that congress can’t abolish slavery
- While there is DEFINITELY discrimination against LGBT communities, and sexuality is criminalized – it does not hold the same precedent as saying “you’re not a citizen and have no right to sue for citizenship in court” Supreme court officers went on record about the inferiority of black people. The Dred Scott case has never been overturned.
- People feel that this comparison to Dred Scott is unfair, but that is exactly how blacks feel when wealthy white gays compare their experiences to the civil rights movement.
What should the national LGBT agenda be focused on?
- Unfortunately, within LGBT activist groups, at times the focus is so much on marriage that when transgender or homosexual bring up the fact that they are not covered by insurance or fear getting kicked off of their insurance once they report that they are transgender they are just told “we don’t care – we’re focusing on marriage.”
- While data shows that those in the LGBT community suffer disproportionably in healthcare, living conditions etc… than their white counterparts, the national LGBT agenda (in terms of laws proposed and points raised) makes it seem as though everyone who is LGBT is white, wealthy and lives in urban areas. It would help the community a lot more to instead of addressing marriage, to fight for health insurance coverage, anti-poverty initiatives, housing & homelessness etc… [used example, a lesbian with no job isn’t going to be helped by the ability to marry. The best she can do is pawn her wedding ring]
- The homophobic prison system
- Where are the LGBT movements demanding a higher minimum wage of the employee freedom of choice act? The anti-discrimination act is fine, but it doesn’t help LGBT prospective employees who have a significantly higher chance of getting their résumé’s pulled for showing their affiliation with LGBT organizations or having “ethnic” sounding names.
- While DADT was a big step, one must examine the role the military plays in promoting homophobic violence all across the world.
VERY interesting - but I’m amazed that people are actually saying ‘gay is the new black’. I’m so sheltered in my radical social justice bubble :o