Writing for TheGrio.com, Nadine Smith talks about the peculiar case of Florida Lieutenant governor, Jennifer Carroll. Carroll is caught in a controversy after one of her former staffers claims that she caught the Republican in a “compromising position” with another woman in her office. Carletha Cole made the allegations after she herself had been arrested for illegally taping conversations and giving them to the media. Cole has no criminal record and she passed a lie detector test, making her story tough to fight against.
But Carroll didn’t rise to the top of Florida politics by not being a fighter. She defiantly spoke against the allegations, stating that black women who look like her don’t get caught up in lesbian scandals.
Carroll’s remarks led to Smith taking offense to her remarks about women like her not looking like lesbians.
There is no way for Carroll’s story to have a good ending. Either her accuser is using homophobia as a political weapon, or the lieutenant governor is abusing her power with a subordinate, or she is living a huge, sad and complicated lie.
I was content to steer clear of commenting, but then the Lt. governor went on TV and spewed her rebuttal: “Black women who look like me don’t engage in relationships like that.”
I’m not sure what kind of extensive research she has done to come to that conclusion about black lesbians but perhaps she’ll publish her findings.
Smith is concerned that Carroll would engage in gay bashing to protect herself from a political and personal mess of her own making. She is a married mother who rose to the top of the ranks of the GOP. The last thing she would need is for her constituents to find out that she is yet another hypocritical Republican.
Smith goes on to describe the manner by which comments like those of Carroll can be very dangerous. She says that they render black lesbians invisible to society. The health and well-being of black lesbians can get ignored when women like Carroll, who could likely be part of that group, engage in stereotyping in order to protect herself…from herself.
We live in a culture that continues to ignore the lives, needs and health of black lesbians by rendering us invisible. Carroll reinforces that invisibility by perpetuating the misconception that all lesbian and same-gender loving women look and act the same, virtually erasing the diverse array of Black lesbians. And if lesbians look a certain way, Lt. Gov. Carroll, tell us, what do straight black women look like? In putting a fence around what lesbians are supposed to “look like” she corrals acceptable black heterosexual womens’ appearance as well.
To read more of Nadine Smith’s essay, please click here.
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