The new controversial buzz phrase that’s making its way through the internet and gay-o-sphere is Black Gay Privilege. Yep, you read it right, Black Gay Privilege. Back in 2012 David Pedulla released The Positive Consequences of Negative Stereotypes: Race, Sexual Orientation and the Job Application Process in Social Psychology Quarterly.
Princeton University News gives a summary of Pedulla’s findings:
The result was that each participant suggested a starting salary for an applicant portrayed as a straight white man, a gay white man, a gay black man or a straight black man. Participants were also asked questions about the applicant that Pedulla used to measure how “threatening” they perceived the applicant to be.
The survey participants recommended lower starting salaries for straight black men and gay white men than for straight white men, indicating a salary penalty for being black or for being gay, Pedulla said.
“However, there is no salary penalty for gay black men, who receive higher salary recommendations than straight black men and salary recommendations on par with straight white men,” Pedulla said. “There is some evidence that gay black men are perceived as less threatening than straight black men and that this difference accounts for a piece of the salary recommendation difference between these two groups.
Fast forward to 2014/2015 and we’re now discussing Black Gay Privilege.
John Fitzgerald Gates writes a piece titled Unmasking Black Gay Privilege where he elaborates on the concept. Subsequently Tabias Wilson writes a counter piece The Truth About Black Gay Privilege where he expounds as to why Black Gay Privilege is a myth. Even though Wilson’s essay has some valid points, it’s hard to stomach the abundance of overly used LGBT mainstream buzz words of queer, cis and one I had never heard of BlaQueer…seriously?
Gates mentions how he has benefitted from BGP (Black Gay Privilege) throughout his career and states he accessed spaces and opportunities that “stereotypical” black men were not able to. Wilson’s stance seems to be based on his experience with a white female boss, which in my view is a poor counter. Just because you haven’t personally experienced something, that shouldn’t mean the thing you haven’t experienced doesn’t exist.
In Pedulla’s survey and in both essays there is an elephant in the room that seems to be danced around or not being fully factored within this issue. Black gay males are being painting with a single brush as if they are one monochromatic group. Agree or disagree, that elephant that is danced around when attempting to discuss BGP is the differences between masculine and feminine black homosexual men.
Gates subtly mentions this by saying “The literature shows that the masculinity of black gay men is often feminized in popular culture, thereby reducing the impact of traditional black male stereotypes and serving as a counter, sometimes beneficial, stereotype. As mentioned previously, Gates states he “accessed spaces and opportunities that stereotypical black men were not able to.” Reading between the lines, “stereotypical” in this context means masculine.
Again Wilson attempts to counter by saying as a feminine leaning black gay man (the flow of my queerness, somewhere left of masculine – his words) BGP can’t exist because of a white, out-of-touch, possible racist or just overly insensitive female boss grinded his gears.
Wilson goes on to state “Neither queerness nor same-sex attraction inherently require or guarantee a particular performance of masculinities or femininities.” True but that doesn’t negate the fact that homosexual men of color are not all feminine.
Let’s be honest here, effeminate homo or hetero men are perceived weaker as and thus less threating than masculine homo or hetero men.
As a masculine leaning black homosexual man, you don’t know of my sexuality unless it’s disclosed. I am by many in corporate and white societal and cultural definitions threatening or intimidating. I know this as fact due to being numerously told so directly within corporate America. Nonetheless by sexual classification, those on the outside looking in – heterosexuals and white homosexuals – I could possibly or do benefit from Black Gay Privilege, which is the furthest from the truth. I mean can’t you just foresee Fox News or Drudge jumping all over this and shaping it for their narrative as a new and improved form of Affirmative Action keeping the white man down?
Supremacy, racism, biases, bigotry and oppression continues to be dominate forces in societies. In many facets, they trump all and dictate how we maneuver in and out of our communities. Both essays do speak upon racial and discriminatory hiring practices and working conditions in some details. As stated previously both make very valid points and outwardly gay men absolutely suffer discrimination and violence from those who are anti-gay. Nevertheless, if we stick to the topic, do some black gay men have an advantage when it comes to hiring practices not only based on their qualifications but also due to their less threating effeminate demeanor? I feel the answer is yes.
The new buzz phrase that is Black Gay Privilege is incorrect. If this is going to be added and overused within the LGBT lexicon at least use it correctly and accurately as Feminine Black Gay Privilege.