Gay Rights | News | Towleroad Guide to the Tube | Tyra Banks

Towleroad Guide to the Tube #479: Tyra 'Gay is the New Black' Edition

Last week, Tyra Banks broadcast an episode about gay and lesbian civil rights, comparing the current battle with the African-American struggle for civil rights. Here it is, in four parts.

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  1. “Would you ask me how I'd dare to compare the civil rights struggle with the struggle for lesbian and gay rights? I can compare, and I do compare them. I know what it means to be called a nigger. I know what it means to be called a faggot. And I can sum up the difference in one word: none.” – DC Gay Activists Alliance President Mel Boozer to the 1980 Democratic National Convention

    “Today, blacks are no longer the litmus paper or the barometer of social change. Blacks are in every segment of society and there are laws that help to protect them from racial discrimination. The new “niggers” are gays. No person who hopes to get politically elected, even in the deep South...would dare stand in the school door to keep blacks out. Nobody would dare openly and publicly argue that blacks should not have the right to public accommodations. Nobody would dare to say any number of things about blacks that they are perfectly prepared to say about gay people. It is in that sense that gay people are the new barometer for social change. Indeed, if you want to know whether today people believe in democracy if you want to know whether they are true democrats, if you want to know whether they are human rights activists, the question to ask is, ‘What about gay people?’ Because that is now the litmus paper by which this democracy is to be judged. The barometer for social change is measured by selecting the group that is most mistreated. To determine where society is with respect to change, one does not ask, ‘What do you think about the education of children’? Nor does one ask, ‘Do you believe the aged should have Social Security.” The question of social change should be framed with the most vulnerable group in mind: gay people.” – Gay black civil rights icon, mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr., and organizer of the 1963 Great March on Washington Bayard Rustin to the Philadelphia chapter of Black & White Men Together, 1986

    “Angela Bronner, AOL Black Voices, to straight black civil rights icon and NAACP Chairman Julian Bond:

    Why did you not attend the funeral of Coretta Scott King?

    BOND: I knew her attitude toward gay and lesbian rights. And I just couldn't imagine that she'd want to be in that church with a minister who was a raving homophobe. And I couldn't see myself in my church either. Although I have a great deal of respect and affection for her, I thought that I could show a lot more by staying away.”

    Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | May 12, 2009 5:10:37 PM


  2. Same old tired arguments and lies. Same old pinched faces. Same old shoulder length bobs and Talbot's mix/match. Same old pleas for reason from GLBT youth, with the same old inconsiderate ignorance from know-nothing conservatives who made up their minds long ago.

    Bayard Rustin and Coretta Scott King were more ahead of their time than they could ever have imagined. Keep up the good fight.

    Posted by: The Milkman | May 12, 2009 5:54:57 PM


  3. Ah yes, it must be time for the monthly "black people are homophobes" episode on Towleroad. Funny, I keep missing the "white gays are racist" episode. Does anyone know when that comes on?

    oh right, never.

    And when white gays are no longer able to hide their sexuality so they can get jobs and other white male privileges only to THEN come out so they can keep them, then maybe I'll compare the two struggles on a substantive level.

    Posted by: Stan | May 12, 2009 6:20:39 PM


  4. I realise that analogies are helpful, but there is really no need to compare the demand for civil rights for lgbt and civil rights for blacks. Lgbt rights do not require to match up to some mythical standard laid out before by other minorities or oppressed groups; rather, they stand for and by themselves and do not require qualification.

    Posted by: Midland | May 12, 2009 7:01:25 PM


  5. I agree with Midland.

    And besides, why are these people even talking about the 60's, let alone slavery? Were any of them old enough to be around for those fights? Doubtful.

    It's kinda like telling somebody who is paralyzed by a car crash, "you have no right to complain, some actually die in their car accidents!"

    Then the thing about being able to hide our sexuality? That is bullshit. In school I was made fun of for my French accent constantly. Why did I never use the logic, just keep my mouth shut! That way no one would have never known. If only I had a time machine.

    Posted by: Washington | May 12, 2009 7:29:59 PM


  6. "Ah yes, it must be time for the monthly 'black people are homophobes' episode on Towleroad," suggests Midland.

    Of course, since it's clear that Andy Towle singlehandedly produced this episode of The Tyra Banks Show.

    Apparently, even linking to video of an African-American leading a discussion on the issue of anti-gay sentiment in the black community is racist. Please make a note of it.

    Posted by: David Schmader | May 12, 2009 7:50:10 PM


  7. Stan, gays do not stay in the closet for convenience. They do it out of fear. Fear of being abandoned by their family and friends. (Do black people ever deal with being disowned?) Fear of getting fired from their job. Fear of getting beaten up by gay bashers. Fear of getting kicked out of their apartment by the homophobic landlord. I fail to see anything positive about having to pretend that you're straight.

    Posted by: David in Houston | May 12, 2009 7:51:15 PM


  8. (Actually, it was Stan that I quoted. Apologies to Midland.)

    Posted by: David Schmader | May 12, 2009 7:54:08 PM


  9. Sorry that thinking skills aren't your strong suit David Schmader so I'll make the point again.

    The point is that this blog never misses an opportunity to highlight the supposed enormous level of homophobia in the black community (which in turn is reason for the white queens to toss out Baynard Rustin as their perfect black gay friend) and yet, I've yet to see an article about racism in the white community. In fact, I've never seen Towle post anything about it. That is the point, Schmader.

    Please make a note of it, since you'll likely forget it as soon as you finishing reading this.

    Posted by: Stan | May 12, 2009 8:00:28 PM


  10. yes David in Houston, Anderson Cooper, Mark Foley, Charlie Crist (hell, the entire cast of Outrage) did it out of "fear".

    Sell it to the circus David in Houston, maybe they are buying it.

    It all boils down to access. White gays have it, even if they have to chill out in the closet while they get it (Rosie can you hear me??).

    That distinction makes the comparison the black civil rights impossible.

    This is a capitalist country. The ability to acquire money and status is what separates the haves and have nots.

    But of course, that wasn't even my real point..see my last comment.

    Posted by: Stan | May 12, 2009 8:24:33 PM


  11. Stan,

    Have you ever submitted an article about such a topic to Andy? Outside of the Eric Holder speech I can't remember the last time racism in the white community was discussed to any serious degree in general, outside of the South where we still talk about it regularly because well it's the South and it's still a problem, and that was about 3 months ago and Andy did link to it and the crap that came of it.

    http://www.towleroad.com/2009/02/foxs-john-gibson-compares-attorney-general-eric-holder-to-monkey.html

    Also what about being black is exactly holding you back in life? If you live in some backwater hell hole in the South or elsewhere I might believe you but I want to know.

    The only black people I've ever seen actively discriminated against here are the young men who dress and act like thugs. If they want to be a thug, or at least act like one, they will be treated as such regardless of skin color. Every black man I know who is my own age and has made sacrifices similar to myself has done quite well in life. Perhaps they were discriminated against, but if they have been it does not seem to be holding them back much. The only discrimination I have seen these young men receive is from other black men who accuse them of selling out and "acting white."

    Most of the people I know who never make much of themselves in life white, black, asian, latin, etc, are those who place blame for their problems on some external entity when often (but not always) their position in life is largely of their own doing. Whining about it does not fix it though and most just wallow in their own misery. Having said that, I understand that many people were never given the proper tools to escape the poverty of their situation which is one reason why we need a complete revamping of the education system in the country.

    We have many problems in this country and most of them are from making enemies of one another when doing so makes no sense. I personally think that so long as American blacks insist upon maintaining a "unique" culture within a culture the lives of the individuals raised in said community will never improve due to the fact they are trapped within this sub-culture. The black community here in Arkansas is very insular as anytime I start getting close to a black guy his friends push me away (I’ve never gotten to the point of meeting the family). Any time I go and try to have fun dancing to rap music at a club that is predominately black I get laughed off the dance floor because I dance “too” white. Discrimination is not a one way street.

    Why is it that whenever a white person in anyway criticizes the black "community" or black "leaders" that criticism is automatically labeled ‘racist’ even if it is valid. For instance, why are black leaders not leading the charge against drug prohibition and pushing for the legalization or at least decriminalization of drugs? Drug prohibition disproportionately harms black people due to racist enforcement and convictions and yet the "leadership" of the black "community" is virtually silent. Is this comment automatically racist because I'm white regardless of the fact that it is true?

    Further Stan what can I do to be cured of the racism I am sure you will be accusing me of shortly? What could Andy do? What is it exactly that you want us to do? Have you ever thought about it or do you just like to complain and lay blame for personal problems in your own life at the feet of others? Please tear me a new one. If I can handle Jerry Cox, I know I can handle you.

    Posted by: Jason | May 12, 2009 9:23:18 PM


  12. @Stan

    Not all blacks are homophobes (of course) Not all white gays are racist (of course).

    This argument gets so damn polarized for no damn reason. And I am tired. Of. it.

    And thank you Jason. You are attempting to open up a dialogue (however imperfectly). That;'s what we need to continue to do, instead of pointing fingers and accusations to and fro.

    More later.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | May 12, 2009 9:46:27 PM


  13. LOL. Jason, I don't know whether to feel sorry for you because you're just stupid or to feel pity because you don't realize it.

    Please point out where I said being black is holding me back?? or that black people were blaming whites for their problems?

    That's what I thought.

    The POINT my dim-witted hick gay is that an enormous issue is made of how homophobic the African American community is supposed to be. You can search this blog and find dozens of instances of this. However, nothing is ever mentioned of white gay racism. Do a google search on white gay racism (assuming you know how) and see what comes up. Given how discussed this topic is, one wonders why it is never brought up here, one of the most viewed gay blogs out today.

    The impression is that black homophobia is more prevalent than white gay racism, Jason. Do you see how that works, dim-wit?

    Everything else you posted is the rant of some white dude who got snubbed by some black guy in your one-horse town, but instead of saying "hey maybe he doesn't want to be bothered", it becomes I DIDN'T EVEN GET TO MEET HIS FAMILY. THE MEAN BLACK FRIENDS DIDN'T LIKE ME. Cry me a river, maybe the "insular black community" in Arkansas thinks you're white trash.

    The drug comment is so ridiculous I can only assume you barely finished high school. Black leaders have rallied against the disparate impact of drugs and the justice systems sentencing guidelines so much I can only assume you're a dolt.

    The issue is economic empowerment, not your failure to find a black guy to fuck what I'm sure is your well worn ass.

    Posted by: Stan | May 12, 2009 9:48:47 PM


  14. To put it as simply and (hopefully) inoffensively as possible, black homophobia comes up on this blog more than white racism because this blog is about gay issues.

    Of course white racism is a major problem, and any gay man (or anyone else, of course) who is racist is an idiot. And I agree with Midland, Washington, and Chitown Kev.

    Posted by: Paul R | May 12, 2009 10:16:41 PM


  15. I refuse to believe anyone is this simple minded. Paul R, I have been discussing racism WITHIN the gay community and it's prevelance. It, therefore, IS a GAY ISSUE.

    DING! DING! DING!

    but, I guess it's not a gay issue if you're white. My bad.

    Posted by: Stan | May 12, 2009 10:29:09 PM


  16. Stan, calling somebody a "hick" and "white trash" is racist in itself, don't be a hypocrite.

    I think Jason hits the nail on the head with the remark about those portraying themselves as "thugs" being the ones subject to racism, similar to those white people referred to as "white trash," and etc. I think it comes down to rising above the negative stereotypes.

    How much has race held back any public (or not) figure? Not much, And what about homosexuality? Quite a bit, and that is regardless of how capable the individual is, and that's why many believe "gay is the new black." The plights don't have to be completely analogous to be comparable.


    Posted by: Washington | May 12, 2009 10:31:53 PM


  17. Stan,

    Perhaps you do not realize you are writing your posts in such a way that it makes you seem like you are looking for some sort of validation from people on this board, but that is the message that I got from your writing-style. As to my stupidity or being a hick I will leave that to others to decide.

    Okay so a lot of white gays are racist and a lot of black people (and white people) are homophobic. There are a lot of racist comments made on this board. What do you want me, Andy, and the people on this board to do about it?

    For starters, I have given black guys about as much attention as any white guy in my city. I mentioned one instance but it is a situation that occurs quite often to me. Some people really don't care about race until other people make it a problem or point of contention as hard as that may be for you to believe. The drug comment was one originally made by a black friend of mine and is a point we agree on. Perhaps these self appointed leaders are making these points about drug prohibition in publications targeted at American blacks but this subject is hardly broached by them at any point outside of niche media outlets and occasional blog postings. I can not think of one time I have seen the issue discussed in serious manner on a primetime news show, ever. Admittedly I don't watch much TV anymore but if you can provide me a couple of examples of where this has occurred please provide them to me.

    I usually top so my bottom is still quite tight and unused at this point in my life but thank you for thinking of my ass. I won't get into a discussion on economic empowerment with you as I'm quite certain we will disagree on that point.

    While you have done quite an impressive job throwing verbal abuse my way I have yet to see you actually say anything productive. I have gained only two points out of your last diatribe:
    That there is a problem with racism in the white gay community that is often ignored.
    That the black community is homophobic.

    While I'm glad that you feel very self-righteous at the moment for launching such a scathing assault on the stupid hick from Arkansas you have yet to inform anyone on this board, including myself, how we can get past our racism and proceed toward a colorblind world. What are your suggestions? I am quite eager to hear them.

    Posted by: Jason | May 12, 2009 10:53:26 PM


  18. Stan,

    Perhaps you do not realize you are writing your posts in such a way that it makes you seem like you are looking for some sort of validation from people on this board, but that is the message that I got from your writing-style. As to my stupidity or being a hick I will leave that to others to decide.

    Okay so a lot of white gays are racist and a lot of black people (and white people) are homophobic. There are a lot of racist comments made on this board. What do you want me, Andy, and the people on this board to do about it?

    For starters, I have given black guys about as much attention as any white guy in my city. I mentioned one instance but it is a situation that occurs quite often to me. Some people really don't care about race until other people make it a problem or point of contention as hard as that may be for you to believe. The drug comment was one originally made by a black friend of mine and is a point we agree on. Perhaps these self appointed leaders are making these points about drug prohibition in publications targeted at American blacks but this subject is hardly broached by them at any point outside of niche media outlets and occasional blog postings. I can not think of one time I have seen the issue discussed in serious manner on a primetime news show, ever. Admittedly I don't watch much TV anymore but if you can provide me a couple of examples of where this has occurred please provide them to me.

    I usually top so my bottom is still quite tight and unused at this point in my life but thank you for thinking of my ass. I won't get into a discussion on economic empowerment with you as I'm quite certain we will disagree on that point.

    While you have done quite an impressive job throwing verbal abuse my way I have yet to see you actually say anything productive. I have gained only two points out of your last diatribe:
    That there is a problem with racism in the white gay community that is often ignored.
    That the black community is homophobic.

    While I'm glad that you feel very self-righteous at the moment for launching such a scathing assault on the stupid hick from Arkansas you have yet to inform anyone on this board, including myself, how we can get past our racism and proceed toward a colorblind world. What are your suggestions? I am quite eager to hear them.

    Posted by: Jason | May 12, 2009 11:00:05 PM


  19. Ok Jason. Last post. Yes, you are limited. I get that. Here goes...

    Top Five Things Towleroad Can Do to Promote Racial Harmony.

    1. Delete racist language used by posters.
    2. Ban posters who continue to use racist slurs and language.
    3. Display images of gays of color comparable to white gays (look up comparable, Jason).
    4. Highlight news stories of racism against gays of color by white gays (San Francisco should be full of examples)
    5. Stop trying to suggest black people are more homophobic than white gays are racist.

    these should get you started, Jason. This was off the top of my head.

    Here's a game you can play (i assume u play many to entertain yourself), place "racism" with "homophobia" and see how the statement "what do you want us to do about it" reads then.

    As far as the drug issue, do a simple google Jason. Seriously, do you really need someone to post a link for you? It's fairly simple to research, assuming you read much. Hint, search "sentencing guidelines and minorities". sigh.

    As far as you dating, topping or bottom, I really could care less. It was really more of a reflection of what regard I hold you in. You're a simple minded gay who probably will never understand anything beyond the small town you live in. Good luck to you.

    Good night.

    Posted by: Stan | May 12, 2009 11:26:54 PM


  20. @Jason,

    LOL. I too dance "too white." In fact, I am one of those black folks who has been accused of "acting white." And what you describe as the AA community in Arkansas as being "insular" is really xenophobia. It happens to AA communities, it happens to immigrant communities, I've even seen it in "ethnic white" communities (Irish, Polish, Italian). In AA communities, it serves, in part, as a sheild from white racism but it can also become a bit of a fence. I know I felt suffocated by it myself but...that's my experience.

    I too believe in drug decriminalization and legalization simply as part of the solution of the disproportionate number of black men in the justice system. In fact Bill Clinton's Surgeon General, Jocelyn Elders, was the first person with a big national stage that I heard talk about drug legalization and connected it with incarceration rates and health issues. Of course the fundies let her have it about that and teaching children to jack off and all of that but I always appreciated her outspokeness.

    And Stan, if you want to have a discussion of racism in the gay community, I would suggest that you not address another white gay person's as a "dim-witted hick gay" and his neighbors as "white trash," particularly if he is trying to reach out in some way. Now if Jason had had come back and replied to your odious and racist post by calling you a nigger you'd go on another rant about those white gay racist men, wouldn't you?

    Treat others the way you want to be treated, that's real simple. Don't put out what you ain't willing to get back twice as hard. Cause karma can be a bitch.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | May 12, 2009 11:41:59 PM


  21. Stan, based on my own experience, I find it hard to imagine why you would NOT think that there is less anti-black racism among gay white people than there is anti-gay sentiment among black people in general.
    I don't believe I have ever in my life met, in person, a gay man or woman of ANY color who would support restricting the rights of anyone due to their race.
    My best guess would be that there is LESS racism in either (and all) directions among those who consider themselves gay than there is among the public at large.
    I have dated females and males of all colors and I have NEVER felt the kind of fear holding a black or brown woman's hand as I have often felt looking like a couple with another man... and the color of his skin is never even on my mind.
    I have never even heard of a gay woman or man (of any color) committing a racist hate crime against someone because they were of some other race.
    I would suspect that if one were to intensively study racism among gay people, the most likley conclusion would have to be that some racism does exist among some gay people (no surprise, as someone is prejudiced in EVERY community), but that gay people are MORE likely to treat people of other races as equals than is the public at large.

    Posted by: GregV | May 13, 2009 12:24:22 AM


  22. I have to go to bed.

    But Stan,

    from one black LGBT to another (presumably) I find that the tone of your rant is every bit as ignorant, bigoted, condescending and close minded as those white gay racists who seem to be the scourge of your Towleroad existence. I find it hard to believe that your mother taught you to talk or to treat anyone in the way you just treated Jason.

    Becuase under you own #2 category, you would be banned now.

    Your suggestions are good, not perfect, IMO. maybe Andy will take them in consideration, maybe not.

    If you don't like it then start your own damn blog.

    Jason did not hurl any personal insults at you. You should not have done likewise.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | May 13, 2009 12:44:59 AM


  23. @Jason,

    One more thing.

    IMO, the same insularity that you cite in the AA community (which I somewhat agree with for various reasons of my own) also exists in "the gay community." And for many of the same reasons.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | May 13, 2009 12:48:23 AM


  24. God damn it, Tyra.

    Posted by: Jory | May 13, 2009 12:54:10 AM


  25. What Ive noticed about this blog,is that it confirms my thought on some gay white men.My thought?

    Some gay white men actually believe their hardship and discrimination is more significant than that of a black or hispanic gay man.Ive seen it alot on this blog specifically when Andy Towle posts stuff on here discussing anti-gay bigots of color.There is a lack of regards to gay men of color.In fact I will quote one of the most outrageous and sick comments Ive seen on here recently

    "I told you black men are homophobes" That was posted on a blog posting discussing President Obama.

    In other words that poster was saying that all black men are homophobes and made it sould like gay black men dont exist.Specifically those of us who are OUT.

    Go rent or buy Noah's Arc.

    Not to mention the jackass who actually had the audacity to post with the name KKK and post one of THE MOST racist comments Ive seen here,It pisses me off so much Im not even gonna retype it.

    Ive seen just as many racist comments posted here as I have seen blog postings discussing homophobia and marriage equality.AND THAT IS ALOT.Even if not a whole lot,its enough in which should NOT be tolerated,I dont care what the story is.

    Ive talked to Andy on the phone for a few moments discussing that issue trying to atleast bring it to his attention.As I recall that was BEFORE election day last year.I see NOTHING has been done to put an end to it.I dunno if its because he cannot monitor every comment posted or if its he is a racist and agrees with some of the sick twisted comments posted by those sick and ignorant individuals.

    I can agree with Stan's comments to a certain degree.There is alot of racism from certain gay white men.I dont live in San Fransisco where the gay community is racially segregated so I cant say Ive experienced it personally,however,I do know FOR A FACT that is does indeed exist.Seeing racism come from some of the readers on this blog only confirms that.

    I live in New York City and the gay community here is racially integrated and is very diverse.Gay prides over here really are the rainbow because gays of all colors shapes,sizes,male,female are out and about and its like that all the time.Im quite sure there are some racist white queens here in the city but its not that noticeable,atleast I havent experienced anything out of the ordinary here.I could only imagine what it must be like in San Fran,probably almost if not all white.So many people I know who have been there told be how racially segregated the gays are there.Which reminds me to steer clear of that area.All I need is to be the only gay black/puerto rican walking down a San Fran Street.There are plenty of other destinations to check out anyway.Hopefully it wouldnt be like that,but I can honestly say Im still not sure if visiting that area is the best thing for me right now.

    Thank baby Jesus I live in a diverse integrated metropolitan area.Im surrounded by EVERYBODY.

    Posted by: Lower east side | May 13, 2009 2:32:54 AM


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