Relative Privilege and Erasing Oppression

Some days it can seem like gay men are doing okay. George Takei is married to Brad. Dan Savage has a popular asvice column. Anderson Cooper is the silver fox of broadcast news. Statistical manipulation and celebrity focus can present a wealthy, sexist, transphobic picture of a (wholly cis) gay monolith.


Within the queer community,  there’s some butting of heads and difference in goals. Some want to be radical and push for social change,  others just want to be accepted so they can quietly live otherwise traditional lives of married monogamy and child raising.  And queers with more advantages and privileges (like race, gender, and economic status) are perceived as being the most ready to assimilate into a culture that hates their queer peers.

Those members of the LGBT community most likely to be wealthy are cis gay men. However that does not mean that cis gay men are all wealthy, or are more wealthy than straight men their age. Gay and bisexual/pansexual adults of all genders are more likely to live in poverty than their straight counterparts. And while LGBT youth are a minority,  they make up about half of homeless teens.

Gay or bi/pan males are more represented in popular media than lesbians or queer women,  but that heightened visibility does not translate to greater social acceptance. Within the queer community, gay males are the second most physically assaulted group, with only trans women facing more violence.

I’m not going to pretend there are no culture problems within the queer or cis gay men’s communities.  Transmisogyny, drag culture,  sexism, racism, and anti-femme biases against effeminate gay men are all issues to deal with in family. But I do think cis lesbians like myself need to remember that, even while they reap some rewards of male privilege,  gay boys and men also face frequent, violent reproach for not performing masculinity as dictated.

Gay men and boys live in the same epidemic of toxic masculinity that claims the lives of women. Masculinity in our society is defined by heterosexual virility and violence. This both drives the aggressive sexism found in some gay men and drives the violent enforcing of masculinity,  and punishment for deviation from it, from the straight men who assault them.

TL; DR Privilege is relative and intersectional and it’s a homophobic world out there.

One thought on “Relative Privilege and Erasing Oppression

  1. I’m not going to pretend there are no culture problems within the queer or cis gay men’s communities. Transmisogyny, drag culture, sexism, racism, and anti-femme biases against effeminate gay men are all issues to deal with in family.

    So true, sadly. This is one reason I’m hesitant to fully embrace the LGBT school set to open in Atlanta. I think it’s great that there will be a school for students and educators who feel bullied in traditional school settings, but my worry is that simply having an LGBT school won’t protect students or faculty from bigotry and oppression. They might not have to deal with a certain strain of bigotry, but racism, sexism, misogyny, biphobia, transphobia, classism…that’s all still going to be present. I hope everyone who plans on attending/working there is aware that this place most likely won’t be the haven that many might want it to be. To be sure, some will likely be privileged enough not to face as many problems compared to others. But that group will be the ones with the most privilege: the well off white, homosexual, cisgender males. I’m hoping all of this has been taken into account and that there will be some ongoing diversity studies that the students and faculty will take part it. It would suck for a black, trans girl to attend this school, hoping to have learning environment where she can be free to be herself, only to discover just as much anti-trans bigotry there as she would in a traditional school.


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