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White Gay Men to Black Women: We’re on Your Side, So Stop Pushing Us Away

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In a recent opinion piece for TIME magazine, writer Steve Friess told a personal story of how he came to know black women through his boyfriend. He recalled a concert headlined by the likeswhite gays and black females of Queen Latifah and Erykah Badu, and recalled how the audience wasn’t filled with just black women, but also white gay men. Friess says the good relationship between gay white men and black women goes far back and he’d prefer that it stay that way.

At issue is a University of Mississippi senior who, according to Friess, “believed she was defending black women from cultural theft by launching an assault on white gays who, to her mind, behave too black.”

“You are not a black woman, and you do not get to claim either blackness or womanhood. It is not yours. It is not for you,” the woman scolded.

Friess acknowledges that the relationship between white gay men and black women isn’t perfect, but says it’s a strong alliance that he wants to see continued.

“White gay men as a group could be the truest friends black women can have in American society,” Friess writes. “No alliance is perfect, but this one has the potential, if nurtured properly, to reconfigure the stories of race and gender.”

He says black women should take advantage of the solidarity that exists between gay white men and black women to further issues important to black women.

“White gay men — once intensely vilified but now able to harness our white male privilege for good, having learned what being on the outside is like — are a conduit through which black women can work against both countervailing forces that push them down,” Friess concludes.

Friess also openly acknowledges that oppression for black women has been historically worse than what gay men have experienced.

“There is no question white gays have intrinsic advantages over black women in American society,” Friess says. “Sure, we’ve taken our lumps, but black women certainly win the sweepstakes of oppression by a landslide.”

So, according to Friess, this is not an argument of who has been oppressed more, since black women can lay claim to that, but how the two groups can ally and help one another.

He concludes by saying that “the mutual fondness between so many black women and white gay men” makes them natural allies and no one should be allowed to undermine that bond.