I am tired of members of the LGBT community griping about how people who support them shouldn’t support them. It makes no sense. It is embarrassing to much of the LGBT community, and it makes them look like spoiled ingrates.
Macklemore recently performed at the 56th Grammy Awards alongside Mary Lambert (an open lesbian), Queen Latifah, and Madonna. He performed a song you would think all the gays would be grateful for: ‘Same Love’. Well, apparently that wasn’t good enough.
Some gays were up-in-arms over his performance. I can’t even begin to enumerate the asinine reasons why.
Let’s start with this superb piece by Arielle Scarcella:
Um, how can you refute any of these points? Please tell me how.
These are the types of arguments I encountered subsequent to Macklemore’s performance:
1) Straights cannot understand what it’s like to be gay.
Exactly! That is why Macklemore’s statement is so important. He doesn’t know. And yet he is still supportive, because he knows it’s wrong. He shows empathy. Isn’t it a good thing when a non-member shows empathy for a member of a group? Or are you just divisive?
2) I didn’t ask for help.
He didn’t give it because you asked. He gave it out of magnanimity because young people needed it. Nobody is forcing your hand to accept his help. You can take it or leave it. Are you really going to take him to task for such a noble gesture? What is really annoying is that you suggest he’s forcing you to appreciate him. That is just disingenuous.
3) Privilege isn’t a shield.
He isn’t creating privilege as a shield! He is challenging his own privilege, and those of other straight men, by rapping about it! Do you really think he’s leveraging his fame to defend himself against criticism? Of what? Defending you? Now you’re just starting to sound like a paranoid conspiracy theorist.
And? I understand some black people might not identify with his music, but surely we cannot ignore the black people who do identify with it, or invalidate the content of his argument on the basis of his race alone.
5) He’s a man
So, what? He is trying to dismantle gender roles based on sexual orientation. Isn’t that one of the most gender-subversive things a man (or anybody) can do? He is unusual among men for that reason, and that does deserve appreciation.
6) He’s exploitative.
How? He has leveraged his fame to advocate for gay rights. How is that exploitative? It can only be beneficial to the gay rights movement. He could donate to a gay charity, but that wouldn’t have the same visible impact. The mainstreaming of gay rights does require some commercialisation. It really isn’t a big deal.
7) You have to look at the context.
What context? These are Macklemore’s lyrics. What else are you looking for? A swastika? We are being challenged on so many sides, and occasionally a beam of supportive light shines in through a grand lunette window. It is a ray of hope, and it is from a privileged person. That is our context. How can it hurt, then, to accept the help of an ally??
He can’t? What would you rather he do? Stand on the sidelines and let Pat Robertson take over? Or outright oppose you like Pat Robertson? That is just ridiculous. No, you don’t have to know exactly what it’s like to be queer in order to support queer rights, and, yes, the majority can speak for the minority–out of basic human empathy, compassion, and solid ethical reasoning.
9) I’m just going to couch the terms of my argument in newfangled rhetoric.
This is perhaps the most intellectually disingenuous and disrespectful attitude I have encountered. I don’t know if it is rooted in some queer radical movement or what, but it has no business in honest dialectic. Underprivileged. What does that mean? That you can get away with saying anything you want, regardless of the illogic of your argument, just because you happen to belong to a so-called ‘underprivileged’ group? Because it doesn’t. You still need to abide by the laws of reason and open, honest debate. The fact that you may be less privileged than a member of another group does not automatically make your argument valid. It is just as likely that you are leveraging your own status as ‘underprivileged’ to bitch about people who are actually trying to help you. Which makes no sense.
It is perfectly possible for underprivileged people to begin to assume the position of the privileged by taking their current position for granted (French Revolution).
The point is this: yes, LGBT people are underprivileged. However, being underprivileged does not protect you from being a total, complete asshole. The fact is we do need allies, and we start to look like real shitheads when we refuse to acknowledge our allies’ hard work to redress the crimes of the past. As Arielle Scarcella says in her video above, allies are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. Personally, I am shit-holy grateful as an effeminate gay man. I will be damned if I don’t show my allies the gratitude they deserve. If you don’t like that, so be it—but keep in mind, we are not so privileged as you may think.
Oh, and during the Grammy Awards ceremony, Queen Latifah herself performed a mass wedding ceremony for both gay and straight couples, so what the fuck are you motherfuckers complaining about? Hm?