This is a post I don’t want to write.
But, I need to because it’s a truth, a raw one, that needs to be spoken. And I won’t be accused of holding back or hiding; I’m too old for that sort of thing and the world is too big for small-living.
I must preface, however, with this: I love my best friend. I love her as she is; I love her as she will be; I love her as she was, even before I knew her. Even so, while I won’t ever judge her, not even criticize really, I can’t pretend that this truth isn’t a truth.
To her, and really to all of my white, queer friends, but mainly to her: please, check your queer white privilege.
I rarely ever talk about this because:
- I think we assign too much (either the good things or the bad things) to the presence of “privilege”.
- I don’t care; I can see the what-what, but I can’t tell someone who they will or won’t date, who they will or won’t talk to – I, as is everyone, am responsible for my own behavior, and that includes what I do and what I choose to react to.
- It will make strides in my generation, but it won’t be fixed. It’s like that Keb’ Mo’ song, The times they are a-changin’ when he says “Your own road is rapidly agin'” — I’m not middle-aged yet, not by far, but I’m not freshly out of high school, freshly out of college, a freshman at life; what my generation does matters, but for the next and I won’t ignore that.
So with all of that said, can we now talk about what queer white privilege means? It means:
- There aren’t hundreds of women for me to meet out there — yes, numerically, they exist, but statistically, they’re not going to date me…so stop judging my choices for who I do date (black or white or whatever) because sometimes, honey, it’s all I can date
- It doesn’t matter if I get another degree; it doesn’t matter that I have a job that most people will never, ever get and I earn more than most people will ever earn — all those things that are pluses for you might as well be net-negative for me; they don’t budge the bar, I don’t magically convert into a suitable partner for someone to bring home to their
probably not racist, but still rather sensitive parents[edit 9/16] undercover racist parents
- When you call me great, when you say you love me, when you put me on this pedestal and look down on every person I bring to you, it calls into question your choice: you made one, it wasn’t me, and it’s not fair for you to to expect someone else ‘worthy’ to pull the trigger that you didn’t [you didn’t, you didn’t, why should anyone else take that leap?]
- The closer I am to you because “we’re similar” means the further away I can be perceived to be from the queer non-white community; I get judged for your blonde hair and blue eyes; I get judged for my non-dapper but old world prep-school style; I get judged on both sides and some days I have little patience for you not seeing or understanding that — queer PoC who don’t know me get a pass, whatever, we’re not friends, but you? You’re my best friend, you can do better
- The worst part is that my straight white friends get their privilege and often check their privilege — it’s sad that they had to point this out to me because even though “I knew”, I didn’t want to know; you being queer doesn’t excuse you from that, and you ought to know that, okay?
I know it’s naive to assume that “queerness” = “fairness”, that “queerness” = “race-blind”. The reality is, as my male, white, and heterosexual friend pointed out me, that “they [queer, white women] have already had to tackle coming out to their [in my friend group, often] conservative, white parents – they’re not going to risk bringing home a non-white or non-Asian partner; they won’t rock the boat.”
[I hate it when the straights beat us at things; we talk the talk of how everyone should be the same, but the rampant racism and genderism in the queer community is appalling, and to get head-slapped by an ‘outsider’ while fully precedented — yes, outsiders looking in always helps — still stings]
I need to say this again, if only to myself: I love my best friend. I love her, I love her, I love her, and some days I want to shake her so hard because I need her, if only for just a moment, if only for a moment that is unprompted by me – I will not do it – to check her queer, white privilege at the door and just acknowledge that as close as we are, as “similar”, we don’t go through the world same way. She doesn’t look at me the way I look at her. No one does. No one looks at us as us; they look and they see:
A feminine, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, white woman of conspicuous privilege and good breeding next to a “not fitting in the box of masculine or feminine or androgynous” dark-haired, brown-eyed, black women of some privilege and some good breeding, and it doesn’t make sense (to them)
We don’t make sense as friends. We never would have made sense as a couple. And when I look around the bars, the mixers, the parties, and the world — my world — I don’t fit in it because my world is her world and I am the outsider.
I’m privileged, yes, but I lack privilege, and that’s the only currency that counts in the queerocracy these days.