I’m going to discuss my observations about queer black women in media (specifically in the USA). I will also abuse parentheses; you have been warned.
Regardless of what anyone thinks, you can’t deny that there is some sort of strange relationship between sexual identity and race—not in the “people of this race aren’t gay” sort of way, but in the “famous people of this race tend to not be out if they’re gay” as often as famous people of other races sort of way. And things like that can lead to all sorts of foolishness. Anyone remember when some guy wrote a book and sent it to Uganda and how that inspired the Anti-Gay bill they were trying to pass a few years ago? Rachel Maddow going to town on the author of a "cure gayness" book.
And it would be easier disprove idiotic statements such as “race effects whether or not you’re gay” if there were more people of influence that were the physical manifestation of a counterargument. However, that is not the case. I don’t know whether or not that’s the fault of the not-so-good background race has within US history (yes, I’m talking about the US, specifically), or if there’s some cultural incidence of shame and fear within communities of color/the black community. What is it about black “pride” that makes it so difficult?
So, besides debunking the myth of “blacks aren’t LGBT identified, ever”, why else would we need out, black people of influence?
Well, this may or may not sound ridiculous, but some of us (read: all of us, whether you believe it or not) look to the media as an example in many different aspects of our lives. And while stereotypes are awful, I kind of think they have their uses. One way the media helps is by giving us “not so obvious” LGBT individuals ways to drop visual cues on our somewhat unobtrusive sexualities. Being (what I can only simplify to) bi has its troubles. How can one find a middle ground between attracting heterosexual/bi men and homosexual/bi women? …If you find an answer to that, let me know, because apparently I’m not doing it right (read: I get asked to dinner by men and called straight when I go to gay clubs. Yes, that's happened on two separate occasions). In this situation, many people turn to the media for help.
Let’s go for the simple, common example: the (often times symbolic) cutting of hair. A lot of white/Asian/non-black queer women cut their hair to shorter, “more masculine” lengths. As MUCH as I’d love to cut my hair to reflect my inner queerness that won’t do (and please, don’t preach to me about stereotypes—you know when you see a woman who’s under 30 with short hair you probably add “queer” to your mental list of possible classifications… vegetarian too, am I right? :P) Unfortunately, black woman + short hair does NOT = queer.
So, after that realization, I decided to do some research. It was like a math problem. Black woman + x = queer black woman (with x defined as a visual/physical cue).
And by research, I really mean research. While I could name a BUNCH of non-black queer women in the media, I really couldn’t do so much for black queer women. My train of thought was something like this:
“Um… let’s see… Wanda Sykes? And… um… Queen Latifah. Wait, she doesn’t really count, because we’re still a bit unsure… well… I got nothing. OH WAIT, Nicki Minaj… but, isn’t she denying it now? …Why can’t Ellen just be black? Or better yet, why can’t Oprah just be a lesbian?”
And then a dead end. Eventually, after many unsuccessful google searches, I was given this video by a friend. Essentially, this list contains a lot of women you wouldn’t hear of unless you were into politics and reading; writers, activists, poets (though, in retrospect, I DID know a few more than Wanda, which made me happy).
Anyway, to wrap this up, the main point of this is essentially that American media is telling the world that black queer women are rare/don't exist (which can’t be the case). But then again, allowing the media to define and represent the world is a bad idea. “Dark skinned” black women, myself included, wouldn’t exist at all if left up to the media because I’ve observed it is usually only “safely ethnic” black women who get screen time/get to represent all black women on TV and in movies. (Support for this observation: here and here, with pictures). But that’s enough digression.
Side note: Dreads for me, yes or no? No? Yeah, whatever, I kind of want to do this anyway, but maybe shorter.
Side side note: I'm obviously not being serious about my first side note, in case you were wondering.