The spectrum of oppression

The spectrum of oppression

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Coming out is personal to each of us, so is how we recognize and understand our oppression. Each of us has a moment that hits us in the face and says this is why I feel the way I do about how I’ve been treated by my family and community. I wrote about just that in my memoir “And Then I Danced, Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality.” For me it was at Stonewall and here’s how I put it.

“Stonewall would become a four-night event and the most visible symbol of a movement. We united for the first time: lesbian separatists, gay men in fairy communes, people who had been part of other civil rights movements but never thought about one of their own, young gay radicals, hustlers, drag queens, and many like me, who knew there was something out there for us, but didn’t know what it was. It found us. So, to the NYPD, thank you. Thank you for creating a unified LGBT community and thank you for becoming the focal point of years of oppression that many of us had to suffer growing up. You represented all those groups and individuals that wanted to keep us in our place.”

The backlash that Ellen is getting for her soft-pedaled treatment of Kevin Hart is coming largely from LGBTQ people of color and it might benefit many of us to listen to those voices since what Kevin Hart and even Ellen might not understand is that Hart and the words he used just might have been the symbol of the culture that LGBTQ’s of color had to endure: “hyper masculinity.” 

Billy Porter, a proud gay man of color, Broadway performer and the star of the TV show “Pose,” knows this well and spoke up that he saw something in the issue that others hadn’t raised “the hyper masculinity” of Hart’s comments.  This led another comedian of color to post support for Hart and then attack one of the trans actors on “Pose” as a “pussy” if he couldn’t take a joke. 

One voice on Twitter made it clear, “As a queer person of color, Ellen cannot speak for me.”  This was the overwhelming sentiment. 

While Hart’s homophobic statements were years ago and he has apologized for them, maybe he hasn’t completely understood the gravity or that his comments represented an oppression that has not completely disappeared and his refusal to address it allows that culture to continue. 

It’s often remarked that the cornerstone of the black community is the church, and while LGBT people are part of its choirs and committees, they are often not allowed to be OUT. Hart’s remarks, as Porter labeled “hyper masculinity,” somehow empowered that continual oppression, spoke to those who have endured it and opened a deep wound.  While Hart opened that wound in his original homophobic statements and later apologized, he continued to attack racism in his material and comedy routines, but remained silent on homophobia for 10 years.  Silence or invisibility is the weapon that is most used to oppress us. Ellen of all people should have understood that. 

Ellen, as many of us do, needs to listen. 

Porter’s exact statement, said in an interview with Consequence of Sound: “I say to Kevin Hart, and I say to D.L. Hughley, I say to those people who think that they don’t need to apologize for shit and dig their heels in their toxic masculinity: But you want your rights! You want people to stop shooting your children in the back? But yet still, you turn around and oppress other people the same way you’re being oppressed.”

Has Hart changed? Why are people angry? From E-News: From a 2011 quote “Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters dollhouse I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay’.”…..

Another Twitter user went to the great lengths of searching every time Kevin used the words “fag,” “homo” or “gay.” They realized the comedian “seems to have basically stopped tweeting those words after 2011 — i.e. the year his first stand-up movie became a hit.”

While Hart has adamantly denied being homophobic, prior statements about his feelings seem conflicting to some. In a 2015 profile for Rolling Stone, he once said one of his “biggest fears is my son growing up and being gay.”

That’s just over three years ago … maybe he changed his words with his new star power, but maybe not his true feelings? 

Update:  New York Magazine’s music division also conducted its own search of Hart’s tweets from the period in question and discovered that the words expressed by Hart never included an apology or “I’m sorry.”… And several out black celebrities are coming forward to express their anger.  It’s time to listen to their oppression and to respect them more than someone who has literally expressed violence against his own child if he were gay, and only feels forced to walk it back when it was convenient due to changing times, not his own change of heart

Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. You can follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MarkSegalPGN or Twitter at https://twitter.com/PhilaGayNews.


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