We’ve Trained the Media to Think We’re Rich and White. That’s a Problem


We’ve noted the perception of whiteness in the gay rights movement before. Some folks insist on making race part of the debate; others times, the evidence is irrefutable. And without a single leader, however, it’s impossible to say our civil rights fight is led only by the light-skinned. But to anyone tuning in to the media’s conversation on the issue, it might appear that way.

In a well-reasoned thought exercise, Pam Spaulding wonders aloud just how harmful this whitewashed version of gay rights might be. While we should applaud the Signoriles and Savages (the Dans, not the Mikes) for stepping on the soapbox, without people of color on the teevee grandstanding for gay rights, the community inherently shuns support from blacks, Hispanics, and Asians — gay or straight.


Not helping things, argues Michael Petrelis, is that our own branding of what it means to be gay is an exercise in exclusion. This website has shown how that’s played out.

It’s hard to argue the image of the gay community that’s exported to the rest of America isn’t one of white affluence. That’s the story the media loves, and it’s the one that ends up in the New York Times Wedding section. Poor gays? Black lesbians? Less newsworthy. (Don’t even get us started on rural transexuals.) But that’s certainly not the reality. We’re a diverse group, whether it comes to race and ethnicity, class and economic status, intellectual and uneducated.

Maybe it’s time we make an effort to start showing Americans that while they may not know a Dolce & Gabbana-wearing, AmEx-flashing, McSweeney’s-reading homo, we’re still part of their inner circle of friends and family and colleagues.

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