The anti-gay agenda

The anti-gay agenda

Let’s clarify: Being gay is not a lifestyle that one can choose, like being a jet-setter or a bohemian

Over the past few weeks, several rappers have made insensitive — or full-on homophobic — statements about gay people. Credit: Reuters Photo

By Charles M Blow

Why can’t straight men stop obsessing about gay people? Why is it that a thing that has nothing to do with them occupies so much of their time and energy? Maybe they should interrogate their own prurient interests in other people’s love, get at the root and figure out why the idea of male intimacy riles them.

Over the past few weeks, several rappers have made insensitive — or full-on homophobic — statements about gay people. DaBaby, a 29-year-old artist from Cleveland, vomited an HIV-stigma-filled rant laced with harmful misinformation about the virus. Rapper T.I. defended DaBaby, saying that gay people had gone from being bullied to doing the bullying, simply because they had demanded accountability from DaBaby, urging him to apologise and pushing music festivals to drop him from their lineups. About a week after DaBaby’s rant, Boosie Badazz, a hip-hop artist who came up in the 1990s, went after Lil Nas X, one of the rare rappers who is openly, unapologetically, explosions-of-glitter gay, threatening to assault him.

Let me say first that the country has quickly evolved on the acceptance of gayness, and that includes an evolution among Black people. But, as acceptance and visibility rise, the minority who feel threatened by gay people has grown louder. They talk in apocalyptic terms about a “gay agenda” destined to recruit throngs to a gay “lifestyle.”

Let’s clarify: Being gay is not a lifestyle that one can choose, like being a jet-setter or a bohemian; it is an immutable feature of a life. Also, there is no explosion of gayness, simply because gay people are now more visible than they once were. They still account for less than 10 per cent of the population. Gallup recently measured a modest rise in those identifying as LGBT in the United States, to 5.6 per cent in 2021 from 4.5 per cent in 2017.

That is a tiny fraction of the entire population. And yet, they are still targets. I don’t see a gay agenda in this story, but an anti-gay agenda.

So first, let me say this: Whenever I encounter a passionate homophobe, my mind immediately focuses on his passion. Why would a straight man devote so much time and energy to hating gay people? What is the return?

Is this something that settles on the brain, these particular brains? And why can’t the thought be quickly and easily vanquished?

I am always reminded of what James Baldwin told The Village Voice in a 1984 interview: Macho men are “far more complex than they want to realize.” As Baldwin put it: “They have needs which, for them, are literally inexpressible. They don’t dare look into the mirror. And that is why they need faggots. They’ve created faggots in order to act out a sexual fantasy on the body of another man and not take any responsibility for it.”

In other words, some homophobes outwardly attack that with which they do inwardly battle. (In the case of these rappers, I accept their identities at face value and imply nothing to the contrary. That’s their business, not mine. See how that works, fellas?)

But there is another idea that Baldwin expressed in that interview that I think is even more important to explore, that “the sexual question and the racial question have always been entwined.”

So many things about this observation ring true.

I have always contended that all of the -isms and -phobias are cousins, that in a society that creates a hierarchy of humanity with white, straight, cisgender men at the apex, every person who is not white, or straight, or cisgender, or male gets assigned a lower order of being.

In that sense, racism and sexism, homophobia and transphobia all branch from the same tree.

And one bias can influence and amplify another.

In a society that treats racism as a sport, in which each racial group is jockeying against the others, all of them shadowed by a culture of white supremacy laced with misogyny, anything that reduces your percentage of straight males, or “feminizes” them, is seen as weakening the race.

Gay Black people become agents against Black power and Black liberation, a weight on the race.

When this fraudulent thesis is adopted, inner-racial terror picks up where interracial terror left off. It is not the gay Black person who becomes an instrument of a white supremacist attack on Black masculinity, it is the Black homophobe who becomes the instrument of oppression against his own brethren.

And, it is important to point out that the racist and the homophobe often employ the same tactics. Last week, I wrote about how white supremacists use the defense of children as a way of attempting to render their hatred honorable. Homophobes often use the same tactic, claiming that they are protecting children from exposure.

That is precisely the defense Boosie Badazz used when appearing on “The Breakfast Club” radio show, at one point seemingly expressing a fear that if rappers didn’t speak out against certain expressions of gayness, an entire generation of children could be indoctrinated.

Once again, to clarify: There is no amount of exposure that can make a straight man prefer a penis or a gay one prefer a vagina. If that were true, with all the straight love and affection gay kids are exposed to, they would all be turned straight by the age of 5. Sexual attraction and sexuality just don’t work that way.

What this simplistic notion of sexuality omits is that there are also gay children who have known they were different for as long as they have known anything, and those children deserve representation and visibility; they need to know that there is nothing wrong, broken or evil about them, so that they, too, can feel normal and seen. The absence of that feeling has led too many to self-destructive behaviors, including suicide.

Racists will often point to their friends of color as evidence that they are not racist themselves. Donald Trump’s defenders often pointed out that Trump had many Black friends — or at least associates — in hip-hop before he ran for president. This is the same kind of defense homophobes often use. On Tuesday, Boosie Badazz introduced the world to his gay manager in an Instagram post in an attempt to demonstrate that he could not be homophobic.

Wrong. You can be racist with Black friends and homophobic with gay ones.

I have two things to say to Black male homophobes. One: Stop doing the work of the white supremacist patriarchy and fighting against the people you should be fighting for and with. Two: Men who are secure don’t care one bit about what gay people are doing behind closed doors. Not only does gayness have nothing to do with them, on the evolutionary biology level, but it also eliminates competitors from the heterosexual competition for mates. Be more like those men, if that is truly your truth.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox