Thursday, June 26, 2014


“Pride” season is upon us, and it’s no secret, except perhaps to white people, that gay pride parades are very white, hollow things. They usually take place in “gayborhoods,” which are usually affluent communities predominated by white gay men. Communities that usually contain bars that mostly white gay men frequent, and if you choose to be black and attend these establishments, it is not long before you feel sexualized, objectified, or ignored altogether if not outright discriminated against. And if these neighborhoods are anything like Boystown in Chicago, you might find yourself policed. Therefore, these neighborhoods are usually clear about their message: be gay but don’t be black, or trans*, or disabled, or Other. The living proof of this phenomenon is that mainstream pride parades are often accompanied by smaller prides that create space for other salient marginalized identities. Other prides like “Black pride,” or “trans* pride,” for instance.

Unfortunately, I’m not surprised by the reality that pride festivities are curated by white gay men for white gay men. Accepting this fact, I’m more than happy to just attend black gay prides with my friends. But part of me must realize, that as queerness becomes more mainstream, it is incumbent upon queer communities of color to make sure that we put pressure on the national narrative to keep queerness from being synonymous with white, skinny, able-bodied, cisgender maleness.

Take for instance, the marriage equality movement, that great red herring of equality. It is essentially meat with no bone. Yes, it allows for queer folks all around the nation to start getting married. But for most queer folks, marriage is not high on the priority list. For queer folks of color, who are subject to disproportionate levels of poverty, homelessness, violence, and health disparity—marriage provides us with very little resolve. And so, the movement that is the defining LGBTQ issue of our time is an issue that largely benefits upper middle class queer whites.

Personally, I fear a world where if I announce that “I am gay,” one’s mind will be flooded with a sea of sex shops, rainbows, and skinny dancing white men. Because when I think about what it means to be gay, I have to think about what it means to be black too. And my being black and gay against the master narrative of white queerness is something to be celebrated.

As we continue into the summer, we have to remember that rainbows really are just refracted white light, and I charge us to continue to reclaim the narratives around our lives. We must do the work of reframing the narratives around our love in our own communities. Under no circumstances should a really small, circumspect, and deeply problematic idea of gayness swallow our richness whole. What we must do as a community is continue to fight back against the “myth of pride.” Whiteness and white supremacy is still a thing to contend with, even in gay communities. And the danger of marriage equality, of pride, of these gayborhoods is that they continually swallow the complexities of being black and queer in this country into their narratives of restrictively safe whiteness. We cannot let whiteness co-opt and dilute the beauty and complicatedness of our own black queerness.  This work must be done because despite illusion of the “happy free gay man” that pride creates, many of us are not free. But we can certainly be freer, and to attain that freedom is to make sure that we have control over the narratives about us, and we have to make sure people get the story straight.



  1. Hmm. What a crock. What a jaundiced view. Come to Minneapolis. We celebrate everyone who wishes to be celebrated. As for gay marriage- it is new. Many of us never thought we would see the day, so we didn't hope. Now? You bet it's going to be a priority, because it is now possible. Sorry. But playing the race card rarely flies with me these days. You get what you work and ask for. That is the message of gay marriage - a freaking miracle. If you feel marginalized, then stop sitting in the corner pouting. Empower yourself. And objectification? Honey, we all objectified. Enjoy it. Work it. Or stay in the corner being a bitter Betty. But don't... Don't rain on my parade. Not insensitive to the pain, but self empowerment cures a lot of ills. - Uptonking from Wonderland Burlesque

  2. As stated by a white man who's likely never experienced a LIFETIME of discrimination, sexual objectification and the pain, he asserts he's not insensitive to. I'll pray for you ,Upton, that you never gain the perspective men of color have by virtue of simply existing. May all your parades be rain free

    1. thanks for sharing your comment, I hope one day we all can sit get pass all of this

  3. As stated by someone who wishes to remain anonymous, save his bitter pen? As stated by someone who uses the assumed color of my skin to define my experience? I know pain, dear. I know the sting of being determined 'other'. I know the pain of being denied employment. I know the horror of being cast out shunned, and shamed. I have a lot of old tapes that run in my head from time to time. But they are old tapes. And you can't discount my truth. Pray? Pray for your own damn self. Pray that your eyes open, your ears learn to listen, and your heart un-hardens. Such bitter fruit. The only reason I'm not still sitting in the corner where people kept putting me my whole life is because I got fed up with sitting in the corner. Why was I sitting in the corner? I knew I had a voice. I knew I had some wisdom. I knew the universe had blessed me in so many ways. Well, first I got over myself and got out of my way. Then I got over that whole I'm a victim scene. I didn't wish to be anonymous... I wanted the world to know who I was. You may define your experience by the color of your skin, or the place you were born, or whatever floats your boat, if you like. But for me? That is far too limiting. I hope you one day stop feeling the need to be so anonymous and learn to be who you truly are. - Uptonking from Wonderland Burlesque