Soapbox: Because, of course homophobia in the music industry is limited to white gays...

Because, of course homophobia in the music industry is limited to white gays... | Random J Pop

In May of 2018 there was an inaugural out to brunch talk where gays in the game got together to discuss homophobia in the music industry. The photo at the top of this post is who attended. And I'm sure that you, as I did, have immediately noticed the lack of colour in those who attended and the lack of women.

Whenever the LBGTQ or gay community is mentioned in the mass media, you can be rest assured its only accounting for the white LGBTQ community. Not the full gamut of the community which includes people of colour and the trans-gendered; the ones who continually contribute the most to the community as a whole and built the foundations of it.
Some (most) white folk are here for the black / black queer struggle when it's for consumption and their pleasure. But stay silent when it comes to addressing the issue and using what platform they have to ensure the discourse is inclusive of those it affects the most.
You cannot have a discussion about homophobia in any industry without including people of colour and women, because they / we face it from a whole other viewpoint to that of a white male. What we are seeing happening in America with President Oompah weave piece and the complete fuckery of the justice system is indicative of what life is like for every person of colour and woman on a regular basis. One of many differences now is that the treatment is magnified, and yet it is still being wholly ignored by those in a position to help make a change. So in light of this, to not include these voices on a topic on homophobia in the music industry is a complete mess, and is yet again an example of non-white voices and contributions being erased.

Yet again, the constant sipping and consumption of black culture, but with no action to spark equality for those responsible for it.

Janelle MonĂ¡e released an album and a movie which deals with being queer and black. Where was her invite? MNEK released a song a while back about telling a guy that he loves him. Where was his invite? Where was Big Freedia's invite? Where was Frank Ocean's?

In light of the backlash of this white gay lunch, attendees had come out and played the 'Well, I didn't organise the lunch, but I know that women and people of colour were invited' card. If every person of colour and every woman who was invited was unable to attend, then you can't have invited enough of either in the first place.

Once again we witness white privilege at work. These white gays™ are sat at a table able to have jobs, careers and levels of access that black queers aren't able to have within the same industry. And yet, they want to sit and talk about how hard it is for them. Black R&B singer / teen heartthrob Tevin Campbell's career folded the second he came out. Big Freedia occupies a weird space within Hip-Hop. Straight male artists are all good to use his voice on songs, but not his image in fear of it being seen by the Hip-Hop community as a co-sign and an affiliation with queerness, which could hurt their street credibility. (Myles Johnson wrote a great article on this over at Noisey / Vice). Mykki Blanco is probably never going to get the kind of platform that his straight black peers get, despite Lil Uzi vert out here in looks that some would identify as queer. The only thing that dude is missing is a lace front.
What queerness in the mainstream music business has shown thus far, is that it's okay for a white artist to be out and be gay as fuck and it not hurt their career in any way. 
The LGBTQ community and music industry as we know them were built on foundations laid by people of colour. There wouldn't be the level of visibility we have now of trans people and minorities in the LGBTQ community if it weren't for Marsha P. Johnson. There wouldn't be an Ariana without Whitney. There wouldn't be a Justin Timberlake with Michael. There wouldn't be a Britney Spears without Janet. So for the faces of the discussion of homophobia in the music industry to be so overbearingly white is more than problematic. It's wrong and nonsensical.

Some (most) white folk are here for the black / black queer struggle when it's for consumption and their pleasure. But stay silent when it comes to addressing the issue and using what platform they have to ensure the discourse is inclusive of those it affects the most.

Now, I'm not saying that those in attendance of that luncheon are racist. But this whole debacle speaks to a bigger issue. Racism is very prevalent in today's society and the LGBTQ community is no exempt from it. Racism within the queer community is very much real. Even though many of the rights that are afforded to all gays stemmed from the work of black queers and trans folk back in the 1960s. Even though many of the terms and slang that white gay use daily are from black queer and ball culture. Yet again, the constant sipping and consumption of black culture, but with no action to spark equality for those responsible for it.

Selected black straight men in music must also be acknowledged. Prince, Jimi Hendrix, Rick James, Michael Jackson. All of whom not only bent the rules of not only music, but gender too. Acting as a beacon of hope, familiarity and belonging to many queers who felt that they'd never be able to fit into what the world had defined as masculinity and its attribution to straightness. Going out there in heels and a lace-front was something that a guy could do on stage, not just at home in front of a mirror behind closed doors. Sure, these guys were straight. Sure, Prince and Jimi were clapping the upmost pussy. But their disregard for gender norms in terms of how they dressed was an intersection of queerness in music. They allowed queers of colour to ask the question 'What if?'

What queerness in the mainstream music business has shown thus far, is that it's okay for a white artist to be out and be gay as fuck and it not hurt their career in any way. Boy George, George Michael and Elton John are proof of this. But a black artist isn't afforded the same grace nor opportunity. So for white gays to be congregating about the issues that they face is inconsequential to me. The fact they are in numbers and each person at the table has hits and plaques to their name, shows that the system works enough for them to have flourishing careers. A luxury that isn't afforded to their 4 shade darker counterparts.

Don't just be here for black voices on a track for you to click fingers and shout 'WERK' at. Be here for black voices to be heard, listened to and acknowledged in all spaces. Because we're not being heard enough and it's about time that we were.

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