How Gay Stays White and What Kind of White It Stays
Almost no group has suffered more from changes in left-liberal elite culture and politics than white gay men. Less than a decade ago they were the vanguard of social progress, having led a groundbreaking series of legal and political victories in the fight for LGBT equality. But today, in the eyes of many in the movement they’re basically indistinguishable from straight white men, competing for narrative center stage and leadership roles where once they’d been granted privileged access.
Many gay white men are frustrated with the movement’s focus on intersectionality, which has elevated discussions of privilege and police brutality. They also see a tendency for activists to racialize everything. One gay white man told me that he avoids attending LGBT events because he gets shouted down by “intersectionalists” who want to “racialize everything.”
Another gay white man said that he feels ostracized from LGBTQ+ spaces because he isn’t part of the dominant demographic. This, he explained, has made him reluctant to be open about his sexuality and to participate in pride marches, especially when they’re focused on issues like Israel and the addition of a brown stripe to Philadelphia’s rainbow flag.
It’s no wonder that gay white men have started to tune out a movement they feel has been hijacked by minorities. Moreover, it’s no surprise that gay people of color are tired of hearing that they must “act more like white gay men.” They’ve experienced the sexual racism of gay clubs and bars that demand triple-carding or that insist on attendees bringing community members in order to enter; they have seen their sexual partners being preferred not because of who they are as individuals but because they fit racialized sexual fantasies that many gay white men hold.