All right. I admit it. I'm a bigot. It's true. I hate stupid and ignorant people, particularly when they're my own peeps. Does being bigoted toward bigots make me a bigot? I guess that's one of those riddles wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
I've found myself confronted with the question of gay racism a lot lately. Last December I worked on a pitch for a campaign addressing the issue of isolation brought on by intolerance within the gay community. And last weekend I was interviewed for a documentary called SegreGAYtion, due out next year, which explores how divisions within the gay community -- racial, physical, health-related -- breed alienation and animosity.
It shouldn't be this way but, human nature being what it is, it's not entirely surprising. It's always disappointed me to see men and women physically and emotionally attacked for being gay by straight society turn around and discriminate against minority groups within the gay community. You'd think we'd know better.
As a Jew living for the most part on the DL, successfully hiding my horns and tail from clear view, I've found myself in interesting situations, confronted half a dozen times by anti-Semitic comments from gays who hadn't clued into my Jewiness. Of course once you call them on it, you actually hear the stereotypical bigot response: "my best friend/brother-in-law/dog is Jewish!"
One has to look no further than the odious Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, a thinly veiled hate group irrationally obsessed with the Jewish state's dastardly liberal policies toward gays but blind to the plight of homos in Arab and Muslim countries.
Still, at least on the issue of racism within the gay community, Jews have little to complain about. Ask a black person or someone of East- or South-Asian descent. They don't have the luxury to hide their inferiority the way sneaky Jews can. They wear it, well, right on their face and bigots have to usually wait till they leave the room before the racist fun begins.
Just ask most gay white males whether they've ever dated or would date an Asian, for instance, and you're likely to get the same look as someone who steps in poop on the sidewalk. Of course, if you call them on it or suggest their lack of openness is tantamount to racism, they get defensive. "It's just a preference!" they insist.
Nobody, it turns out, likes to be called a racist these days. Particularly racists.
Am I being hard on these folks? I don't think so. Take the photo below, sent to me by a friend from some gay hookup site called Grindr or something :-) where one can block the profiles of members one isn't interested in. (I've covered over the person's face to protect the stupid.)
Now the comment at the bottom of Sk8er Boy's profile is meant to be funny. Boy, who just happens to be white, would no doubt defensively tell me "bro, it's just a joke." But, bro, it really isn't. It's an insidious sort of racism couched in humor, one that winks at the notion that it's okay to denigrate Asians or Indians or blacks simply because they're Asians or Indians or blacks and getting messages from them on Grindr -- or having them come up to you in a bar -- is just too icky. Block!
Boy and the countless dudes like him are unlikely to be burning crosses on anyone's lawns anytime soon. This isn't that kind of racism, of course. But it's still racism. It's still bigotry.
I remember just before coming out 14 years ago, my brother's brother-in-law used to continually make homophobic remarks in front of me. After I came out, the comments stopped. I don't know if he still does it, but I suspect he doesn't because it's harder to when it's uncomfortable and unacceptable -- after all, his sister was married to my brother.
Bigotry within the gay community should be viewed the same way -- as unacceptable. We all have "preferences" and that's certainly our right. But we don't have a right to make people feel inferior because they look different from us -- anymore than straight people have a right to make us feel inferior because of who we choose to love. Not in this day and age. Not after all we've gone through. Not anymore.