Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hide Yo Kids, Hide Yo Wife, Hide Yo Self...?

I know Antoine Dodson is so last year, but being a queer blogger introspecting on self and presented identity, he absolutely fascinates me.  Last month, Womanist Musings, a feminist blog (which I discovered thanks to a friend and new blogger, Invisible Girl - please give her some love!) devoted to ideas relating to privilege, gender, race, ableness, and sexuality, among other topics, had a post from the site administrator entitled Antoine Dodson Goes Straight to Buffoon.  While I find myself frequently agreeing with her posts (it is clear she and I disagree on plenty, but I tend to agree at least on her main points), I felt this one was entirely wrong thinking.  Speaking on a rather unfortunate and obnoxious new video (below) he'd released for Christmas, she commented:
"I am not saying that Dodson has to be a good representation of Blackness or queerness, but I am suggesting that performing on cue like this for the amusement of others (people are laughing at him not with him), is affirming the right of others to view Black, queer bodies as inferior."
In response, I commented (uncensored as per my preference on my own blog):
"Back when I was in high school, I was the band, choir, and theater fag. I loved performing and the escape it provided me from the hell of my everyday life, but it took a long time for me to finally embrace the things that I was made fun of for as part of me. When I performed Monty Python (dressed as a stereotypically gay artist) and Chicago at my senior talent show, I got more laughs and applause than anyone else (I even made a few girls in the audience cry). Could someone say I was pandering to the public, performing on cue, and reaffirming gay stereotypes? Certainly! But I was also finally embracing myself as the unique individual I am and to hell with what anyone in the audience thought and whether they were laughing at my jokes or at me. I say, if he's happy with what he's doing and its meeting his needs, let a queen have some fun! "
It is hard enough for a queer person to figure out how to express oneself in an honest way with the straight of the world breathing down our necks and telling us how we should behave and dress and walk and talk and act.  Add to that the pressures of the gay community to "pass," and the aversion of the more "straight-acting" to all things effeminate.  Further, we have constant media coverage showing "fags" at the beckoned call of their "hags," helping them find the right dress to wear and giving them sassy gay advice for snatching the next sexy boy and expecting nothing but whining and masked homophobic remarks in return.  Queer Eye tells us that gays are here to make you fabulous, Gay, Straight, or Taken? proves that if there is a good incentive, gays can act convincingly straight (and maybe should all the time), and Sex in the City makes it clear that all a gay man wants is to help his hag find a man and to be adorable while doing it.  We don't need so-called allies telling us when, where, and how we can or should express ourselves.  All the more so, we don't need it from each other.  So next time you want to make a fuss about someone who is "performing on cue" or acting "too gay," take a moment to think about your own OGTs (obviously gay traits), how you express yourself and your identity, and how you would feel if someone attacked you for it all.  No one should have to hide themselves because some stranger thinks they are "affirming the right of others to view [their various identities] as inferior."

(If you liked the last video, find more here.)


  1. First let me ask that you not erase my identity and refer to me as a feminist. I identify as a womanist because I eschew much of the isms I see prevalent in feminism.

    As I said in the post, for me part of the problem is that Dodson's performance plays into such historical acts as Amos and Andy that have long since 'othered' Blacks for the benefits of Whiteness. Yes I understand that he is a gay man but his identity as a Black man makes his performance problematic. If you had checked twitter at the time when this story was popular you would have seen many Blacks respond in the same manner that I did. We recognize coonery in his behaviour and know that because we are not seen as individuals it will perpetuate a cycle of racism against us.

  2. Renee,

    First thing, thank you for stopping by! I really appreciate your input.

    I had no intent to erase your identity in using the term "feminist," and I apologize if you were offended. My degree was in political science, with quite a bit of side study in Jewish theology. I do work hard to familiarize myself with new terminology in various fields, but at the end of the day, I can only do so much. Do you have a link where you describe your reasons for identifying as a womanist rather than feminist?

    I would argue that the same could be said about nearly any "other" identity, that we are not seen as individuals, and it is just as true about his identity as a gay man as it is for his identity as a Black man. His identity as Black doesn't trump his identity as queer (unless he has specifically stated that he sees himself more as black than queer). And just because bigots might lump all Blacks (or Jews, gays, queers, etc.) together doesn't make it any individual's responsibility to be a representative of the entire race, religion, orientation, etc.