You may remember Shane Mercado. How could you possibly forget him? The blogosphere won't let you.
Awhile back, I was scrolling through Towleroad when I found a discussion about Mercado, when I saw this from commenter Noah:
Damn, what is with the hate for someone because he's effeminate? Get over it. Your just gay bashing.
Newsflash: A LOT of gay men are effeminate! Right?
Imagine if some gay kid who is being bullied at school for being effeminate read your words. Nice way of making him feel accepted.
Up until the 1960s there were some organizations within the African-American community that only allowed those who were the color of or lighter than a brown paper bag acceptance. A little internal institutionalized racism/colorism that said some African-Americans were better than others.
And, here we have the gay version.
You know, black people do not like to have our dirty laundry tossed in the air and left to oxygenate and really create a stink.
And there it was in plain sight. And Noah was right.
I used to live with a Columbian gay man. He had been raised Catholic. He was oh, about 53 years old. And he still hadn't come out to his extended family.
He was one of the most unhappy people I have ever encountered.
We went to some big box store one afternoon, where he encountered someone who was either a trans man or a really butch lesbian.
When he walked out of the store, he was whispering in my ear, treating her, or possibly him, like a freak.
"Soraya, did you see that woman in the line behind me? I don't understand why women want to dress like men . . . she looks like a freak. That's why people don't like gay people. I'm gay but I'm normal."
I just stared at my housemate, unable to say anything. Who was I, some clueless straight girl, to be advocating for drag queens and lumberjacks and bears and trannies (pre-op and post-op) and flamers and tops and big nellie bottoms and leather daddies and the whole spectrum of the LGBT community that Housemate obviously had some problems with?
And yet, here I am.
He went to his first gay pride that summer in Long Beach and he'd returned to the Orange County condo we shared looking shell shocked. Evidently the dancing drag queens had not tickled his fancy but had induced his horror.
Meanwhile, I was the one trying to make plans to drive to San Francisco for the Folsom Street Fair. (Blame it on Dan Savage)
We may not have a paper bag test anymore, but the ugly demon of colorism is still alive and well, and it's transcended into other forms of self-loathing for different minority groups.
"Masculine" is no better than "effeminate" and "light" is no better than "dark."
So why is it so hard for us to grasp that?