White gay cis men have cultural access to the bodies of black women and black femmes, cultural access that black women and black femmes do not have in relation to white gay cis male bodies. This cultural access allows white gay cis men to caricature black femininities, through mannerisms and voice intonations, as rambunctiously depraved and outlandish. It is a form of ontological mockery that reinforces dehumanizing narratives and racist tropes about black femininities. Perez Hilton, who personifies a homonormative politic, has systematically tapped into the cultural access to which I refer at various points in his career. Indeed, the sassy lexicon he, and so many other upper middle class non-disabled white gay cis men like him, employs rests on the commodification and appropriation of black femme identities. Hilton interjecting himself in a social media dispute between two black women, Azealia Banks and Angel Haze, precipitated the Hilton/Banks altercation, which is emblematic of his (problematic) cultural access.
Because our society subscribes to an insidiously misogynistic sociocultural paradigm, to insult someone, notwithstanding gender, is to invoke the feminine. So what better way for Banks to cut Hilton down to size than to call his masculinity into question? The Banks/Hilton feud had absolutely nothing to do with sexual identity (read: homophobia), but rather, gender power dynamics (read: femmephobia). Azealia calling Perez a “messy faggot” suggests an attempt to assert her status as a no-nonsense, hard ass femcee in a largely masculine of center dominated hip-hop industry. Masculine of center queer men, notwithstanding race, appropriate the word bitch. Very often, they use it pejoratively, and with impunity. They’re seldom called out on the ubiquity of their misguided misogyny. Yet, when it comes to Azealia’s use of the word faggot, she’s quickly characterized as homophobic, reinforcing the dominant narrative that people of color are somehow inherently homophobic, to echo Janet Mock’s recent sentiments. Although Azealia Banks is queer, she is not part of a population that would have this slur used against her. That being said, there are other words that are deeply entrenched manifestations of oppression that go unchecked each and every day. Ironically, many gay men who are up in arms over Azealia’s use of the word faggot are the same men who render femme-identified men invisible and undesirable.
Azealia Banks’ career allegedly hangs in the balance and Perez Hilton’s remains firmly intact. She’s now regarded as the ratchet, violently homophobic black woman. By virtue of his white gay cis male privilege, Hilton did not have to contend with the implications of calling will.i.am a faggot several months ago. This isn’t two wrongs make a right, but rather, one wrong is minimized, and the other, pathologized."
This is a really sobering statistic. What it tells us is the importance of acceptance and supporting those around you. Don’t push people down, don’t bully or harass anyone; you never know what they are dealing with.
But, some people do make it through. I was suicidal throughout high school. My journals from the period are generally composed of a combination of plans and just me pouring out how much I hate myself. My freshman year in college I hit rock bottom. Over Christmas break, while I was back home, I drove to my high school and walked up the three flights of stairs of the Commons Building, where I was fully intending on diving off. They only reason I didn’t was because of a text message from one of my best friend’s at the time, which led me to seek counseling where I learned the tools I needed to help me build my life back and come to accept myself. And here I am, 4 years later, an out and proud gay man who can honestly say that, even if given the opportunity to change my sexuality, I never would. I love being gay, being different, and the amazing culture that I am apart of. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
So, all of this to say, LGBTQ suicide can be prevented and this number can decrease. But that is going to come through strong support networks where people can feel safe and loved and accepted. I hadn’t told Chase, at that time, that I was struggling with my sexuality. All I did was text him a “Good Bye” and he knew something was wrong. He didn’t need to know exactly what. I didn’t jump off that building because he cared about me, and that was enough, knowing I had that in someone.
Be a good friend, support those around you and - who knows - you might be saving someone’s life.