I've heard this "gay is the new black" sentiment a few times in the very recent past, and I'm beginning to think it's less of a coincidence and more of the current mood. After hearing it yesterday on the Tyra Show, I'm convinced that what we've got on our hands is the media's latest attempt to pit two marginalized groups against each other.
I knew it was going to be good when I saddled up in front of my daily dose of the Tyra Circus, and I was hesitant but hopeful when I saw that daytime TV was going to tackle the gay/black debacle. To be honest, not much that was said was disappointing--it's what wasn't said that really got my goat. During the show, in which the entire audience was divided by gay and straight and given labeled t-shirts accordingly, a tearjerking moment was shared by a newlywed lesbian couple and a not-so-accepting set of parents. And the mixed-race and -gender panel of a threesome of pro-gay-marriage folks versus a threesome of anti folks once again allowed the pros to present an eloquent, well thought out argument while the antis were left without a leg to stand on.
But what about the race thing?
Gay is not the new black because black is the new black. Despite the enormous progress that the black community in this country has made in achieving its liberation, there is still indisputable and widespread racism that exists. This is despite the fact that you can see a successful ficticious black couple raise their family on the TV, or a black man drag our country out of the ditch that the last (white) douchebag president drove us into. Likewise, there is still indisputable and widespread homophobia in this country, even if you can see a successful ficticious queer and his fag hag giggle on the TV, or the passage of a law that says that homos can gussy up and shimmy down the wedding aisle.
What Ms. Banks had the opportunity to do and didn't was highlight the things those groups have in common beyond insinuating that society has evolved in a way that allows one group's oppression to replace the other's, or, worse yet, that requires the two to compete for liberation.
The media's pinning of California's Proposition 8 fiasco on the black community was immediate, and the mostly well-written cover story in The Advocate that inspired Tyra's show (the article was similarly titled "Gay Is the New Black," and for that decision some editors' heads should roll) goes to great lengths to talk about the danger of playing the blame game, as well as the danger of trying to reappropriate piece by piece the black struggle to the gay struggle. It's too bad that apparently neither Tyra nor the editors at The Advocate who picked that asinine title bothered to read the article.
Homophobia, racism, sexism, etc., all come from the same system of oppression, and I wish that Tyra had said that yesterday. Racism being allowed to exist means that we're giving the thumbs up for the group in power to treat everyone on the bottom like shit. The same goes for every other conceivable form of discrimination. How, then, can you get rid of one without getting rid of the rest?