White Gay Man Publishes Epically Stupid Response To “Stop Stealing Black Female Culture”

by yvonne & riese

In a TIME article published last week, University of Mississippi student Sierra Mannie clearly articulates why it is wrong for white gay men to appropriate black female culture and why they are not allowed to “claim blackness or womanhood.”

“At the end of the day, if you are a white male, gay or not, you retain so much privilege… The difference is that the black women with whom you think you align so well, whose language you use and stereotypical mannerisms you adopt, cannot hide their blackness and womanhood to protect themselves the way that you can hide your homosexuality. We have no place to hide, or means to do it even if we desired them.”

Because the patriarchy is so accustomed to silencing and shutting down black women’s voices, today TIME published a response to Mannie’s article written by a gay white cisgender man, Steve Friess, titled “Dear Black Women: White Gays Are Your Allies, So Don’t Push Us Away.” Oh you know he had a lot to say.

In his response, Friess claims that black women should be friends with white gay men because white gay men also know what it feels like to be “ostracized and pushed down.” He argues that Mannie’s arguments are illogical and calls her article a “full-frontal assault” to white gay men and points out that gay white men are actually the “truest friends black women can have in American society.” His response is dripping with white male privilege, reflects a deep ignorance of institutionalized racism, proves he knows nothing about intersectionality and the existence — let alone the struggles — of queer people of color, and offers no actual proof of how white gay men are allies to black women other than they share similar musical tastes and have distinct subcultures.

He opens by acknowledging that he comes from an affluent white background and then proceeds with an anecdote recalling a formative visit to the Sugar Water music festival in Las Vegas, where he was introduced to black women singers including Queen Latifah and Erykah Badu and was surprised to see an audience comprised mainly of black women and gay white men. He remembers being “fascinated” by the plethora of black female/gay white male friendship pairs (he also seems to be assuming that all the black women are straight and/or cisgender) and basically it seems like he’s never been around people of color and thinks it’s weird.

Friess goes on to write, “It’s easy, once you start to imagine it, to see the natural connection between the two ostracized groups, both of which have translated that marginalization into defiant, self-affirming subcultures.” There’s the word “ostracize” again. Friess uses it because it’s the only word that allows him to put white gay men and black women on the same playing field. In her piece, Mannie didn’t say that black women were “ostracized,” she said that they were “oppressed.” Friess clearly missed the point when Mannie wrote, “white people are not racially oppressed in the United States of America,” not once, but three motherf-cking times in her article. Black women are more likely to be unemployed, incarcerated, denied healthcare, denied adequate media representation and denied voting rights than white men. Full stop.

It’s the “defiant, self-affirming subcultures,” however, that Friess seems to be obsessed with, and the way he presents this theory of connection is pretty revelatory of his approach to this conversation overall. He seems to view black female culture and gay male culture as sharing unique, distinct and universal tastes in music and attitude, and from this viewpoint he never stops to acknowledge or consider that in addition to not all sharing the same taste in music, not all gay men are white, and not all black women are straight or cisgender. He opines that, “the mutual fondness between so many black women and white gay men arises both from similar, if not shared, experience, but also a strikingly similar approach to coping with it.” The only example of a “strikingly similar approach to coping with it” he seems to offer, however, is that black women and gay men went to the same “urban nightclubs” in the ’90s.

The very fact that Time magazine published Friess’s response in the first place is an example of the insidious racism and patriarchal system that Friess is so oblivious to and that black women have to fight every single day. The language he uses to describe Mannie’s words is patronizing and dehumanizing:

“Last week, that alliance came under attack by misguided University of Mississippi senior Sierra Mannie, who believed she was defending black women from cultural theft by launching an assault on white gays who, to her mind, behave too black.”

“Others have already burned the piece down to its homo-ignorant nub, noting that Mannie writes cluelessly and obscenely about the nature and challenges of being gay.”

“Mannie can bark at the gay white universe to lay off, but an appealing means of expression and art are the ultimate in open-source culture.”

Friess already fucked up the first rule of allyship. When a black woman tells you you’re not being a good ally, you listen; you don’t berate and undermine.

Friess goes on to write that Mannie has overlooked the fact that “white gay men as a group could be the truest friends black women can have in American society.” This is maddening on so many levels but mostly because he doesn’t offer any examples of what this “friendship” would procure, just an oblique reference to how their union could fight “countervailing forces that push [black women] down.” Why can white gay men help black women attack these unnamed countervailing forces? According to Friess, because they did such a good job at attacking their own countervailing force — heterosexual men, the one and only barrier to “full equality” for gay people. “Gay white men, in fact, pioneered a prototype for this. Not long ago, the biggest barrier for social acceptance for gays was heterosexual men. Then we co-opted them,” he writes, going on to argue that white gay men were accepted by straight men because they wanted to appeal to straight women who loved gay men’s music, hair, clothes and “manscaping,” even citing Queer Eye for the Straight Guy as evidence.

He does devote a paragraph to acknowledging that black women have always been more oppressed than white gay men, noting that “there is no question white gays have intrinsic advantages over black women in American society. Sure, we’ve taken our lumps, but black women certainly win the sweepstakes of oppression by a landslide.” But in the next sentence, he subtly undermines himself and reveals the blinding extent of his white male privilege and lack of an intersectional approach by once again treating “black women” and “gay people” as mutually exclusive groups, co-opting the term “civil rights movement,” and ignoring the institutional racism and patriarchal systems that queer women of color face today, declaring, “it is, in fact, this basic difference — race — that has enabled us to blitz through our civil rights movement in head-spinning fashion, while black women continue to face painful economic and political hurdles.”

While it’s great to hear a white gay man acknowledge what we all realize — that it’s the whiteness and subsequent institutional power of white gay males that enabled marriage equality, not some radical sea change in how power is distributed amongst various groups of Americans — it’d be even greater to hear him confront the fact that those same men, including him in that very paragraph, seem to think marriage equality is “full equality” for all gay people, and that’s why our heads have been spinning in disbelief at how slowly progress is being made on all other fronts. There are queer people of color — including many black women, and black trans women especially — who lack “full equality” because of their race AND class AND sexual orientation AND gender, who are homeless, unemployed, denied housing, without health care, racially profiled and denied basic human rights every day. He also never even acknowledges the existence of black gay men or black trans men, who also face insurmountable oppression and haven’t gotten much help from white gay men on that, either. If cis white gay male experience means that Friess can’t even understand that those realities exist, what reason would anyone have to think that cis white gay male experience means they should take his concept of “allyship” seriously?

What, exactly, does Friess think white gay men can do for black women? All he’s done so far is tell one black woman that he thinks her opinion is “clueless” and “misguided.” Does he have a plan to end racialized sexual harassment and assault, or hiring discrimination, or the wage gap for black women? Friess reacted to Mannie’s request that white gay men stop referring to themselves as “strong black women” by threatening to withdraw hypothetical support of black women’s political and social issues (none of which he actually names)! That’s not allyship, that’s just another example of a person in power offering abstract and highly conditional support to an oppressed group of people with whom he claims a false and unrequited kinship. He claims that white gay men were “once intensely vilified” but are now “able to harness our white male privilege for good, having learned what being on the outside is like.” If articles like this are what Friess considers to be an example of harnessing his “white gay male privilege for good,” then I’d implore anybody reading it to push him as far away as possible.

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Yvonne S. Marquez is a lesbian journalist and former Autostraddle senior editor living in Dallas, TX. She writes about social justice, politics, activism and other things dear to her queer Latina heart. Yvonne was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter. Read more of her work at yvonnesmarquez.com.

Yvonne has written 205 articles for us.


  1. I am too black for this gay white man’s tears. I am too gay when straight black women ignore how queer black are often in the front lines in advancing black women in general.

    BOOOO on both sides says this black gay lady, boo!

    • Both articles were full of fail. As was the “interview” Don Lemon attempted to do with both of them on CNN where he basically talked over them the entire time and didn’t let them each explain their points before interrupting to offer his expert opinion. Both articles seemed like “click bait” to me so I was surprised that they are getting so much attention.

    • Being a black queer woman is like constantly wearing the cloak of invisibility. People make blanket statements about the gay community and the black community without listening to or even acknowledging those of us that are both.

  2. there is a saying that was drummed into my head as a child and it was “empty cans make the most noise.” It means that just because one says or talks a lot doesn’t mean what they are saying is of any value to the conversation, and that one has to pause and evaluate if their input is going to reveal how clueless or foolish said person is. Steve Friess, a job well done on proving Sierra Mannie’s point

  3. Oh thank Beyoncé you wrote this.

    I didn’t make it through his article far enough to formulate such an exact rebuttal…. I kinda zoned out after “one time I went to a concert where there were black people”

  4. This guy makes me want to scream. Cultural appropriation by white people is always problematic, because in most of the world white people are the opressors (whether intentionally or not)and cannot concieve what it is like to, as a minority, have your culture stolen and remade by whites as a fad/fashion/subculture when the appropriators fail to understand the minority and culture they are appropriating for their use/entertainment. Adding on to that his apparent lack of knowledge regarding queer POCs and the importance of the civil rights movement to all people of colour, he really sounds like he needs a serious re-education.

    Secondly, he seems to completely disregard intersectionality issues. He is cis, white and male. No he does not have hetrosexual privilege (though one could argue he could hide behind it if he needed to) he has infinitely more privileges than black women, black queers, etc. Just because you lack one aspect of ultimate privilege does not mean you are ostracized or oppressed in a similar way to other minorities.

    He has failes to understand the fundamental problems that this woman was trying to explain, that until black women are on the level with white cis gay men (and even long after that) it is inappropriate to use their culture and heritage while you are able to hide behind your privilege to avoid the opression many women of colour face EVERY SINGLE DAY. It reminds me of the issues the queer community has with gay men using the word tr*nny. There is a lack of gay men willing to listen to other minorities when they tell them that their behaviour is hurtful.

    Having said that there are plenty of wonderful white/gay/straight/men who DO listen and we need more of THIS kibd of ally. Ugh, okay, rant over.

  5. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to log in.
    While I agree full heartedly with the overall rebuttal here, there is one thing about the quote from Mannie I have a slight problem with. Specifically the whole concept of being able to hide.
    It would be profoundly foolish to quarrel over what makes the greatest factor in ones oppression, especially when identities of race overlap as Victoria described so well above. However, I think it’s only partially true that you can hide your sexual identity, but not your race or gender. This over looked the nature of oppression facing bi-racial people can pass as white, but in another time would still have been classified as black and are still classified as such many others. It also overlooks the long history of women who have passed as men for reasons of survival in places where they weren’t considered welcome.

    • This Black genderqueer supports Sierra Mannie all the way. What she wrote about misogynoirist appropriation/caricature by white gay cis men was pure truth. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve silently cringed/raged while white cis guys popped misogynist slurs and did their best neck-rolling Madea impersonations in my presence in an attempt to “relate” to me. It’s infuriating.

      For anyone dismissing Mannie’s argument about white cis guys being able to hide their gay identities, please remember that the ability to pass as hetero-cis in a world where trans women face lethal violence is a big damn deal. However conditional my own cis-passing privilege is, it fucking exists. I wouldn’t dream of denying its importance in my life. To argue that a gay identity trumps one’s ability to move through society as a cisgender white man is disingenuous in the extreme.

    • Go back in forth about this for a week. Maybe it’s too late now, but decided to just clarify one thing. When I wrote “women who passed as men for reasons of survival” I thinking only of passing women in wartimes or who traveled only to unsettled territories. Women who tried to hide their biological sex, but that we wouldn’t necessarily be consider themselves transgender if there were alive today. I may have been too focus on centuries past and hadn’t given must thought to contemporary notion of cis-gender passing, a concept I’m not all that familiar with.

  6. Fuck this guy. He and all the othet shit-brained gaygeousie can live in their own deluded insular community. I’ll stick with the part of society that supports black women.

  7. This fucking guy. I just…it’s…sigh.

    In the immortal words of Xander Harris: Is murder *always* a crime?

  8. What is truly telling is the fact that the article by Sierra Mannie was not shared on the Time Facebook page, but the article by Steve Friess was. It is obvious that Friess’ article was just click bait, but this only goes to prove that gay white men are afforded privileges that black women are not.

  9. Friess writes: “Some tropes emerged from black female culture and some from the gay world, but how or why is the stuff not of pundits or essayists, but of doctoral dissertations by social anthropologists.”

    um yeah. he should have just had this realization,stopped writing,and hit the delete button. he should have said to himself, “you know what, self? yes. lets just leave these kinds of discussions to people with at the very least a decent working definition of culture and better yet self-reflexivity. i dont really know what the hell i am talking about” and closed his macbook pro for the day.* lord i hope this man is not holding his breath waiting for a groundbreaking ethnographic investigation into upper class white cis gay men who happen to really enjoy Erykah Badu.

    and what is really disappointing (well, a lot of it is really disappointing obviously but riese and yvonne already nailed it so i dont need to get into that here in this comment) is he is on to something buried somewhere deep in his woefully under-nuanced crazy talk. he is a privileged cis white man who, due to his sexual orientation, knows something about ostracism and possibly some kinds of oppression (albeit not even close to the level of the daily, systemic, structural oppression black women face–and any attempt to equate the two is offensive). and it’s true that there is great potential for a white cis gay man such as himself to turn his own voice down, actually listen to black women and their narratives, be a fucking ally, show up for them in a REAL way (not just at their music festivals), and support them by taking advantage of the power that maleness and whiteness affords him to affect change faster and more effectively through true allyship. but silencing black women and instructing them to just accept whatever offensive and misguided attention or appropriation white gay men send their way is oppressive, insulting, and terrible.


  10. This man met black people in 2005 and thought he should write an open letter about race?

    The only redeeming thing about this article is it makes for a HILARIOUS comedic monologue. Reading it this way is probably the only way to make it all the way through without ripping your hair our.

      • Also he legitimately claimed that since the 90s gay men have convinced all straight men to now support “full equality” for gays because of what good friends they are. They give good advice, understand high and lowbrow culture, and toooootally get what it’s like to be oppressed. I mean ostracized.

  11. “harness our white male privilege for good” uhg that made me cringe. Does he not realize that the only way to use that power for good is by actively working to end it? Society doesn’t need any more white males doing things for us.

    • THANK YOU!!!! I don’t need you to harness white male privilege! I need you to ERADICATE IT. If you’re just using to help me, what makes me think you won’t use it to harm me?

      I don’t need your charity.

    • I don’t really agree. I mean, this guy is clearly an ignorant asshole, but privileged people do have an obligation to use their resources and positions of relative safety to help others. Of course, that work should include dismantling the power structures that confer unfair privileges in the first place. However, major changes are not going to happen overnight. People should use the power that privilege confers on them to speak out against prejudice in the meantime.

  12. “Yet here’s what else Mannie overlooks in her full-frontal assault: White gay men as a group could be the truest friends black women can have in American society.”

    Someone, hold my fantastic, shiny, luscious femme hair, I’m about to throw up. D:

  13. Cross-gender appropriation of black culture is not just for white cis gay men.
    It occurs with white queer women as well. I claim this knowing full well that my go-to party trick is flawlessly rapping for my friends. I recognize my privilege.

    And when the “Wu Tang Forever” banner (I made based on the DIY article on here) was stolen off the door of my apartment last month, I understood.

    • :/ But…It’s totally racist cultural appropriation if a white person acts like they’ve invented rapping, or they’re just doing it as a fad thing (or to look “black” etc). But what if a white person honestly just enjoys rapping? Is it ok then, for black people to tell said white person that they can’t enjoy rapping b/c rapping originated in black culture?

  14. Essentially he shot his own argument in the foot by telling her she was wrong. Whilst cultural appropriation is a thing which confuses me because I’m not sure where you draw the line between sharing and stealing/mimicking, telling someone that you aren’t gonna stop being like them and that they are wrong about you taking their culture is just dumb.

      • Very well put, Monique. Now if only someone could take a good example of both and place them beside one another to illustrate that difference. If someone has already done that, could we post or link to their display here?

      • I’m not sure that’s a distinction that can be easily made today. It’s easy to apply that to stupid Halloween costumes, but less with more invisible things, like people who develop personal fascinations (as in, it’s hard to see whether a person is in the ‘I think that what people X do is so cool’ zone, or the ‘I am people X *inside*’ zone, or in some grey space inbetween.) Like people who will buy jewelry from the actual people who are known for it, but wear a whole ensemble of it constantly.

        A liminal case I can think of is a photo project made by my stepsister, who is a brown Latina, when she was about 19 (I’m white). She collated pictures of herself with one as usual, one as a Latina stereotype, with crimson lipstick and hoop earrings, one with a hoodie that showed her curly hair that emphasized her as black-passing, and one wearing a sari and a bindi, and published the series on facebook with a caption about being a child of the universe.
        When I asked her more about the project, she explained that it was really about how people on the street project all kinds of ethnicities and fantasies on her and could be seeing her in all these ways, and also that she herself bears the pain of not really knowing what her ascendance is, ‘but that all of that is too complicated for facebook’.
        She didn’t want to hear any criticisms about the sari in any case, but though it is to me for sure flat-out cultural appropriation in the context of that facebook post, I still do have difficulty understanding whether her representing herself as Indian in the context of her art idea was appropriative in and of itself.

        • South Asian here (not that my comment should be taken as the South Asian Voice of Approval):

          It sounds like part of the reason she had the sari is because she gets confused for being Indian, and her project is all about the different things people assume she is. I get assumed for all sorts of things too – Latina, New Zealander, Aboriginal, Sri Lankan, Fijian, just plain ridiculousness. None of which have any bearing on reality.

          So it’s not cultural appropriation, because she’s not saying she’s Indian – she’s visually demonstrating how people assume she is just based on looks alone. It’s other people telling her she’s Indian. Frankly I’m a little envious that I didn’t think of this idea before she did, but I would love to see her project. At the very least please send her my love from someone who gets it.

        • I love the way you emerge into every thread to whitesplain about cultural appropriation. Being gay and having non-white relatives doesn’t magically make you non-white. Cultural appropriation is confusing for people like you, Cazz and Mike because you aren’t used to being told no. White people (and that includes gay white people like you and the writer of that ridiculous article above) are used to having access to everything. If tomorrow you put a bindi and a sari on you would be lauded for your style/being soooo open minded while brown women like me get called paki and accused of not wanting to assimilate if I were to wear a sari/shalwar kameez outside my front door. Also your stepsisters project wasn’t appropriative because she was using the clothes to make a point about being mistaken for an Indian woman. Had she decided to walk around outside speaking mock Hindi and claiming to be an expert on Indian culture that would be appropriative. Simple.

        • Creatrix Tiara – thanks a lot, I wasn’t expecting such a thorough explanation. I also thought her project was really cool when she explained its meaning, and I will transmit.<3(The reason why I believed her facebook post was appropriative in the first place was because the caption did say something like 'I am all this inside').

          J.V. – I was responding to Monique's comment to suggest that the homage/minstrelsy distinction is maybe not clear enough (as in, it works for pop stars and white cultural 'experts' easily, but less in other cases), because there are cases in which it isn't minstrelsy but it isn't appreciation either, or when an attitude seems to come from appreciation but it becomes fascination.
          I ended up talking about something personal, which is my mistake, and I sincerely apologize.

        • Just to clarify, J.V. – I’m not expressing confusion about cultural appropriation as a concept, but about how genuine appreciation is hard to determine in someone else, and maybe there could be a better definition? I am thankful for your engagement with me, though.

    • Here are two ways you can tell the difference between cultural sharing and straight up appropriation:

      1. When someone steals from your culture and performs it with the UTMOST of mediocrity and yet is lauded for it, its appropriation (i.e. Iggy Azalea).

      2. When someone changes the meaning of your symbols, words, actions, etc, its appropriation (i.e. wearing “Indian feathers” or the new “Harlem Shake).

    • Yes white people like you are always confused when told they can’t have instant access to something. Odd how gay white women can understand straight people not being allowed into gay only spaces but cry oppression when non-white people tell them not to steal or bastardise aspects of their culture . Wonder why that is.

  15. *clapping* Yes, yes, YES!!!! As a Black queer woman, you don’t know how much his “response” irked the living god out of me!

    You hit the nail on the head…three or four times!

    First of all, his whole argument was condescending. This whole notion that Black womben need white men (of any sexuality) to do ANYTHING for us (INCLUDING BEING OUR FRIENDS) was some BULLSHIT. Sweetheart, we haven’t needed you yet and I don’t think we’ll be needing anytime in the near or far future. If you wanna ride out to the club together, fine. But don’t overemphasize your importance or impact.

    AND DON’T TELL US WHAT WE NEED! Do you not see that all you are is yet ANOTHER white person telling us what WE should do/think/feel?!? And this is your idea of friendship?

    As you said, he doesn’t even give any clear & concrete examples of what white gay men can even do for us or why he thinks we’re such bosom ass buddies.


    And one more thing: I’m assuming he was speaking of the CRM when he said that Black men didn’t have any friends…

    First of all, the CRM was NOT a Black male movement. I know that he may only know about MLK and Malcolm, but perhaps he needs to hear about Fannie Lou Hamer, Daisy Bates, Ella Baker, Dorothy Height, Mamie Till, etc, etc, ETC.

    Secondly, Black men DID have friends throughout the CRM…MAINLY BLACK WOMEN.

    • I would still like to be your friend though…. Just because one ignorant and presumably gay white male said some really dumb shit, doesn’t mean the rest of us are as ignorant. :)
      And thank you for the list of names. We don’t hear enough about them. And to add one more to the list, Bayard Rustin :) Not female, true, but still a valid addition as someone we don’t hear enough about.

      • I don’t have a problem being the friend of anyone whom I deem that I want to be friends with, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, and race. My point is, NEVER think I NEED to be anybody’s friend, especially white men’s! Never tell me I need you to be my friend, CAUSE I DON’T.

        This ain’t a charity case over here.

  16. I would like to apologize for Friess’ article… I would like to, but it’s not my place to do so.
    Just know that not all gay white men are as ignorant, blind, and egotistical as this guy, who did have one valid point…. we should be allies. That was the only thing he said that made any real sense. And the reasoning behind it, is never said in his article.
    We should be allies because who needs more enemies.

    • We know that not all white gay men are like this. You’re the representative face in the media for all of us; we are exposed to the different facets and expressions of the gay white man far more often than any other queer identity. I know your intentions are good, but seriously, you don’t need to come to a website for queer women and tell us that not all gay men are like Friess. We already goddamn know it.

  17. White gay man checking in here.

    First, Ms. Mannie’s article…

    I’m glad it began with “I need SOME of you to cut it the hell out”, because my first criticism with it is that, despite that opening disclaimer, it reads like white-gay-men-going-all-Shanequa is a popular or even universal trend. None of the (white) gay males I know do this, whether to a white gay male audience, or to a black female audience. Changing your mannerisms to channel racialized stereotypes is of course offensive, but let’s recognize it for what it is…a likely very small population with whom Ms. Mannie’s has interacted.

    Secondly, the opening salvo of this article attacking Mr. Friess unfortunately resurfaces Ms. Mannie’s weakest and most offensive element of her article–and allow me to be sarcastic here–that “golden closet” that we gays can all retreat to when we want to make our oppression disappear.

    It is very true that black women cannot shrink away from either blackness or womanhood and their intersecting oppressions. Both are expressed, observable traits. But the fact that gay men (of any race or ethnicity) potentially CAN do so is hardly a blessing. The precise reason for a terribly high suicide rate among gay men is, for the vast majority of us, the feeling of isolation growing up with an “invisible” identity.

    As a gay person, you don’t grow up in a “community”, where you are able to negotiate your societal place and have family and friends and elders help you through what it means to be gay. You are instead bombarded with messages that who you feel you innately are is a disease, or sin, or otherwise entirely undesirable–and you face these emotions alone. While black skin cannot be hidden, blackness can be understood, accepted, loved, and owned as an identity all by the time someone is a fully fledged adult. Rarely is this true with gay people.

    Being a white male in modern American society is indeed an extremely privileged place to be in. Being gay does not entitle one to presume a gold medal in the Oppression Olympics and to offensively stereotype under the guise of “appreciation” of another group’s culture.

    But a gay identity is not a permeable wall just because it is not immediately evident to the average eye. To a large segment of our population, gay identity is an affront to the norms of expressing not just one’s sexuality, but also one’s gender. The oppression directed towards gay men, then directly affects how we are perceived and treated as men. “Coming out” can (and does far too often) entail losing your family, friends, churches and other religious support groups, job, or even your own life. Hate crimes continue to occur against gay people with alarming frequency. Being able to hide from any of the above is not a blessing; it’s a prison.

    Ms. Mannie, to me, seemed to assert that white gay males can’t understand oppression because we can escape it by simply not owning up to the oppressed identity. So does oppression not exist if an individual can’t express it? To me that seems offensively misguided.

    Both Ms. Mannie’s piece and this defense of it are well-meaning and rightfully point out the staggering and multi-faceted oppressions faced by black women–the reality of which a white man of any type, straight, gay, or otherwise, will never face. But that doesn’t mean the most white gay men lead socially aloof lives ignorant to the notions of racial and sexist oppression and discrimination either.

    • “While black skin cannot be hidden, blackness can be understood, accepted, loved, and owned as an identity all by the time someone is a fully fledged adult.”

      Oh yes, please tell me again what blackness is like.

      • No need to attack, Emily.

        Please educate me if I’m wrong. Is there a large group of black people that do not grow up within black family units or have no connection to black identity? This is almost necessarily true of gay people–who rarely grow up with gay parents, siblings, friends, etc. So I didn’t think that point was controversial. But please do correct me if I’m wrong.

        • If these are questions that you have never asked before, then you need to spend more time educating yourself before making assertions about the experience of blackness.

        • Pointing out the absurdity of a gay white man coming to a group of queer women from various racial backgrounds on a) what it means to be gay and b) what it means to be black is not an attack. It’s a necessary action to take when constantly being bombarded by mansplainers in our space.

          Fucking hell, the lengths that men will go to in order to “educate” everyone else. We are perfectly fine to have good conversations without your opinions.

    • But that doesn’t mean the most white gay men lead socially aloof lives ignorant to the notions of racial and sexist oppression and discrimination either.


      Mary Jesus and Joseph, it’s like they don’t realize that they’re a parody of themselves.

      #notallwhitegaymen indeed.

      • To Emily — if you want to be dismissive, that is your prerogative, clearly. I do believe it to be a fact that black people grow up in black families and develop an idea of what “blackness” entails long before gay people have that possibility of understand their identities.

        To Rayne — Nice parallel there but I think we’re talking about something far less insidious and threatening than rape culture. And this “they” business–isolating, lumping everyone together, and stereotyping–is pretty ironic.

        • Do you understand that using black and gay identities as polarizing concepts is not only wrong, but also erases a substantial number of black queer people who have to contend with multiple intersecting identities, each with their own baggage of oppression?

          Your argument is not new or persuasive, so I fail to understand what purpose you think you’re serving by coming here in defense of your precious gay male privilege. Yes, being closeted is harmful. Yes, the majority of POCs get to grow up in homes and communities that look like them. But it isn’t an either/or situation, and most importantly ONE DOES NOT TRUMP THE OTHER IN TERMS OF OPPRESSIVE OLYMPIC POINTS.

    • Paper0Flowers–

      How is it absurd for a white gay male–the subject of this post and the original–to try to reflect on this piece of writing? If men are truly not welcome to express opinions on these topics, then there should be a disclaimer that explains that. I had no idea.

      I am frankly surprised that more LGBT people of all races and ethnicities were not offended by the idea that there’s always the closet to step back into.

      • There is every other corner of the internet for white men to defend themselves to raucous applause. Don’t expect to find that eager audience here. Like I’ve said, we can have a perfectly fine conversation without your entitlement to insert yourself here without your words going unchallenged.

        • Well, I don’t and won’t defend white male privilege. I think we agree–on essentially everything–so I am not sure why I am being shooed away, but that’s the loud and clear message here.

        • Except that we don’t because you think it’s perfectly fine for you to tell a group of queer women what it’s like to be gay (BECAUSE WE DON’T KNOW LOL), and a group of women of colour that it’s easier to be black because of shared community. And then, when a woman of colour points out your fallacy, you resort to condescending her with “don’t attack me” which is a common tactic to silence women and other minorities when speaking out against their oppressors. So, actually, what are we exactly supposed to be agreeing on…?

          • Well, you’re informing me that there is no way that we can discuss anything as equals–that I have wandered into hostile territory and have hit enough tripwires to not be regarded as anything other than another invasive, disrespectful male. I think if you knew me you would find this the opposite of the truth, and I regret anything I typed that represented me otherwise.

            I think we agree on points that you earlier labeled as obvious. For stating the obvious, I apologize.

            Also, I apologize–sincerely–for entering a space that I did not take the time to educate myself on. I noticed the tagline in the top right, but did not reflect upon the intended users of the site.

        • On the contrary, there was a perfectly reasonable way for you to have participated in the conversation. Coming from a position of “Well, let me point out why all of these arguments are wrong because I as a white male need to defend myself because I’m CLEARLY not like that other white guy that you’re talking about!” is definitely not it.

          I appreciate you recognizing the demographic that this website caters to, and that you do not fit within it. This isn’t to say that you are never welcome here, but you must definitely learn how to effectively engage with people outside of your community before contributing something that everyone here can benefit from because we here are not obliged to be your education for that conduct.

          • Again, had I paid more attention to the other voices in the conversation and the venue in which I was typing, I would have changed my tone, approach, and points. I am not familiar with this website and found it through a Facebook link. I took it as my chance to defend not white male privilege (I wouldn’t)–but to challenge the idea that queer identity of any type is something that can be turned on or off to positive effect.

            Clearly, as you have pointed out, this is not a group that needed to be educated on that issue. In retrospect, I feel like kind of an ass.

            Thanks for listening, and again, my apologies to you and everyone else here that I may have offended. I did not intend to “mansplain”, but it’s what I did and I do apologize.

    • Mathew. Thank you for your thoughtful and reasonable responses to this article, particularly for maintaining that respect after the rather disrespectful responses you received. I had hoped that Autostraddle could be a safer place to discuss issues of this importance, and did not feel that your response was “manslplaining” or gave justification for white or male privilege. You merely explain another facet of the issue, and one which perhaps was not considered in the above defense. I think we might agree that the response article discussed in this defense had issues, but the defense also ignored why a response article might have been written at all.

      I do apologize that members of the Autostraddle community were rude to you. Certain posters who responded to you negatively and insultingly have been known to do such things regularly. They seem to spend their time attacking persons rather than discussing serious issues with respect and dignity given to all parties.

  18. Shameless plug: I wandered into a bar in Oxford, Mississippi yesterday and struck up a conversation with a group of beautiful black women, one of whom turned out to be the wonderful Sierra Mannie. She never expected that her article would make it this big, speaking out of mere frustration over the things she saw happening. But she stands by everything she said and it was great to see that none of the negative publicity had watered down her resolve on this.

  19. I know darn well you didn’t refer to a Black woman as a “bitchy queen” on this site. Check your misogyny, person.

  20. Oh great. Here we go.

    “My white male ears cannot listen to the legitimate concerns of women of color! WWW-Wait! Hold on! I have something to say. You guys, not ALL gay men! Plus, hang on! Let me talk. I am so oppressed! You would never understand how oppressed I am.”

  21. Very persuasive — thank you for posting this article.

    One minor nit:

    “Black women are more likely to be unemployed, incarcerated, denied healthcare, denied adequate media representation and denied voting rights than white men.”

    From what I can tell, incarceration rates are actually considerably higher among white men than they are among black women. I couldn’t find super-recent numbers, but according to a 2010 report from the DOJ, black women were incarcerated at a rate of 260 per 100,000 vs a rate of 678 per 100,000 for white men.

    http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/cpus10.pdf (Appendix Table 3)

    • Ooh. That needs to be shared more. That totally brings up the kinds of tran* discrimination and gender normative undertones I’d usually see Autostraddle jumping all over, but all they have to talk about here is some other guy who said stupid things in response to the stupid implications Mannie made.

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