La’Por­sha Re­nae’s com­ments ex­em­plify pas­sive queer/trans­pho­bia

Ash­leigh Atwell is a queer les­bian writer and or­ga­nizer born and raised in At­lanta, GA.

GA Voice - - Out Spoken - By Ash­leigh Atwell

Although I haven’t watched “Amer­i­can Idol” con­sis­tently since Fan­ta­sia Bar­rino won, I knew who La’Por­sha Re­nae was. “Idol” just wrapped up its last sea­son and by now you know she was run­ner-up to win­ner Trent Har­mon, a dis­ap­point­ment to mil­lions of peo­ple across the country. The ris­ing diva with the pow­er­ful voice sang her way into hearts across the country, in­clud­ing LGBTQ hearts…y’all know how much we love a diva, honey. Well, that came to a screech­ing halt when Re­nae made the fol­low­ing com­ment when asked about the anti-LGBTQ “re­li­gious free­dom bill” re­cently signed by Gov. Phil Bryant in her na­tive Mis­sis­sippi:

“I am one of the peo­ple who don’t re­ally agree with that life­style. I wasn’t brought up that way. It wasn’t how I was raised. But I do have a lot of friends and a lot of peo­ple that I love dearly who are gay and ho­mo­sex­ual and they’re such sweet, nice peo­ple. We should just re­spect each other’s dif­fer­ences and opinions and move on.” Girl, bye. Sadly, sev­eral straight peo­ple have made sim­i­lar com­ments in what I think is sup­posed to be some form of an olive branch. They tell me they love me even though they dis­agree with my ‘life­style.’ They say even though I’m ‘like that’ I de­serve re­spect. They might as well have called me a dyke be­cause it still stings. If you put a pretty bow on a turd, it will still be a turd. Throw­ing in a line about re­spect and co­ex­ist­ing doesn’t ex­cuse the fact that she came out as a ho­mo­phobe. When a loved one tells me they love me or re­spect me in spite of my sex­u­al­ity, it hurts be­cause whom I love and lay with is a ma­jor facet of my life. Those com­ments, re­gard­less of the qual­i­fiers, tell me I’m a dis­ap­point­ment.

Ad­di­tion­ally, us­ing re­li­gion as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion adds an­other layer to the same. While I am de­cid­edly ag­nos­tic, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t in­flu­enced by south­ern Black Chris­tian cul­ture as a na­tive Ge­or­gia Peach. De­spite not hav­ing a clue who or what sits in the clouds, there are times where I still feel ashamed. I am more than com­fort­able with my sex­u­al­ity, but in­ter­nal­ized Chris­tian­ity tells me I’m a de­viant and not wor­thy of bless­ings from a God that is sup­posed to love un­con­di­tion­ally. It’s con­fus­ing, hurt­ful and I’m sick of it.

To straight peo­ple, th­ese com­ments don’t mean much. For LGBTQ folks, they’re a mat­ter of life and death. It’s easy for Re­nae to say we should move on af­ter straight peo­ple ex­press their so-called opin­ion, be­cause in the long run, her straight­ness shields her to an ex­tent. She doesn’t have to worry about be­ing kicked out of an es­tab­lish­ment or hav­ing scald­ing wa­ter poured over her body be­cause she showed af­fec­tion to her beloved.

My LGBTQ sib­lings, we have to con­tinue to call straight peo­ple out when they do or say some­thing that in­sults our very ex­is­tence.

Re­nae might not have meant any harm but harm was done and now she must face the mu­sic.

“Sadly, sev­eral straight peo­ple have made sim­i­lar com­ments in what I think is sup­posed to be some form of an olive branch. They tell me they love me even though they dis­agree with my ‘life­style.’ They say even though I’m ‘like that’ I de­serve re­spect. They might as well have called me a dyke be­cause it still stings.”

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