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Tyra Asks: Is Gay the New Black?

 

I've heard this "gay is the new black" sentiment a few times in the very recent past, and I'm beginning to think it's less of a coincidence and more of the current mood. After hearing it yesterday on the Tyra Show, I'm convinced that what we've got on our hands is the media's latest attempt to pit two marginalized groups against each other.

I knew it was going to be good when I saddled up in front of my daily dose of the Tyra Circus, and I was hesitant but hopeful when I saw that daytime TV was going to tackle the gay/black debacle.  To be honest, not much that was said was disappointing--it's what wasn't said that really got my goat.  During the show, in which the entire audience was divided by gay and straight and given labeled t-shirts accordingly, a tearjerking moment was shared by a newlywed lesbian couple and a not-so-accepting set of parents.  And the mixed-race and -gender panel of a threesome of pro-gay-marriage folks versus a threesome of anti folks once again allowed the pros to present an eloquent, well thought out argument while the antis were left without a leg to stand on.

But what about the race thing?

Gay is not the new black because black is the new black.  Despite the enormous progress that the black community in this country has made in achieving its liberation, there is still indisputable and widespread racism that exists.  This is despite the fact that you can see a successful ficticious black couple raise their family on the TV, or a black man drag our country out of the ditch that the last (white) douchebag president drove us into.  Likewise, there is still indisputable and widespread homophobia in this country, even if you can see a successful ficticious queer and his fag hag giggle on the TV, or the passage of a law that says that homos can gussy up and shimmy down the wedding aisle.

What Ms. Banks had the opportunity to do and didn't was highlight the things those groups have in common beyond insinuating that society has evolved in a way that allows one group's oppression to replace the other's, or, worse yet, that requires the two to compete for liberation.

The media's pinning of California's Proposition 8 fiasco on the black community was immediate, and the mostly well-written cover story in The Advocate that inspired Tyra's show (the article was similarly titled "Gay Is the New Black," and for that decision some editors' heads should roll) goes to great lengths to talk about the danger of playing the blame game, as well as the danger of trying to reappropriate piece by piece the black struggle to the gay struggle.  It's too bad that apparently neither Tyra nor the editors at The Advocate who picked that asinine title bothered to read the article.

Homophobia, racism, sexism, etc., all come from the same system of oppression, and I wish that Tyra had said that yesterday.  Racism being allowed to exist means that we're giving the thumbs up for the group in power to treat everyone on the bottom like shit.  The same goes for every other conceivable form of discrimination.  How, then, can you get rid of one without getting rid of the rest?

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Comments

10 comments have been made. Post a comment.

oh tyra

Tyra is painfully ill equipped to handle these larger issues...she doesn't do a good job with it, acts like she knows what's going on, and I'm afraid something is going to come back and bite her in the ass. Tell me, how is she any more qualified to dole out opinions and advice than the panels her producers assemble?

And the story always seems

And the story always seems to go back to her and her issues in her life, that have nothing to do with the conversation at hand.

TyTy

lol, that is true. Just the other day she had a young woman on who had been shot in the head by her apparently abusive ex boyfriend, but her "weave saved her". Instead of asking about the incident or even whether or not the a-hole was in jail, Tyra went into this long story about how weave saved HER life too, complete with a barbie reenactment about the time she tripped and hit her head on a rock. I was flabbergasted.
I love Tyra and appreciate what she tries to do for girls self esteem, but I wonder if she's a bit too self-abosrbed to handle certain issues, as the video suggests.

entire audience labeled in gay and straight T-Shirts????????

There were no bi, trans or asexual people in the audience then?

That has to be a statistical impossibility - or a set-up.

Tyra & co u suck.

that's exactly what i was

that's exactly what i was gonna say!
seriously, when will people learn that sexuality is not as simple as gay and straight?

same.

totally agree! my first thought while watching this too.

yeah, it's always portrayed as a dichotomy instead of focusing on diversity of gender and identity complexity.

And mess with the color

And mess with the color coordination?! Are you insane?! I noticed that to and forgot to mention it before. I wonder why she subjects her audience to this nonsense. Can't they just be the unbiased, objective audience. I miss the days of Sally Jesse!!!

Ironically, I saw that one

Ironically, I saw that one too. I was flipping through the channels and landed on WE. I turned to my boyfriend on the couch and said: "Which barbie was Tyra?" Needless to say I can see the parallels between rocks and a bullet... one could possible kill you and the other could give you a concussion which you would have to walk off. ENDLESS similarities.

This is what I think of Tyra's shows

Catfights = ratings

Tyra's ego = even more ratings

The encouragement of marginalization = Top-ten show of the week

It boils down to just being about the business of television, which follows a model of being about ratings and ad revenues marking a network/show's success. Civil conversations about the real issues at-hand that include the voices of as many different kinds of people as possible that actually get people thinking about the real world that is around them are unfortunately, mistakenly forbidden.

Said business model the mainstream commercial networks are currently following MUST change. It can start with the end of exploitative shows, and the beginning of mainstream shows that are about who and what we are as a society and how we can move forward as one.

I am so glad Jennifer Pozner is writing a book on reality shows that I hope wakes up the industry. I want a media revolution that is actually not televised. But it probably will be, anyway.

Endnote: Shame on the long-running The Advocate for declaring that "gay is the new black." They didn't have to stoop that low to sell magazines (because, as already pointed out elsewhere here, it's a cold, lonely world out on the newsstands right now). They know they can do better than that and I indeed hope that some of those editors' heads rolled when they saw that issue off the presses.

YES

I often come across folks who get really, REALLY angry when you try to point out similarities between homophobia, racism, and the movements to end them. And coming from my position as a straight white woman, I often find it hard to argue with them because I don't have any experience with either.

When I read "Homophobia, racism, sexism, etc., all come from the same system of oppression..." I was like,

THIS!

THIS is what I've been trying to say.

It's true that these groups don't have to compete. Gay civil rights haven't replaced Black civil rights. And people need to stop behaving as if they have -- on all sides of the issue.