After Caitlyn Jenner appeared on Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight on Monday, Peter Boykin, president of Gays for Trump, tweeted a very telling warning about the focus on trans rights being allowed room to grow.
"The trans rights agenda, although valid, is separate than the gay rights agenda," Boykin wrote. "We must NOT allow their agenda to hijack or slow our progress."
By Hari Ziyad*, AFROPUNK Writer
Boykin's tweet follows an equally revealing "all-star" panel of representatives from the "new gay movement in the Republican party" at a Metropolitan Republican Club forum in New York City on Thursday. During the forum, two of the five white panelists–Lucian Wintrich, White House press correspondent for alt-right blog Gateway Pundit, and Chadwick Moore, the writer behind the widely panned profile of alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos in Out Magazine last year–went all in on their racism and transantagonism.
Moore called bathroom protections for trans students "horrifying," while Wintrich mocked White House LGBT liaison Raffi Freedman-Gurspan as an "unattractive tranny." Later in the night, Wintrich argued that "Islam inherently hates gay people [...] They don't understand why every woman in here isn't wearing a polyester blanket."
One would think that given the historical violence white gay men have faced they would be more accountable to those who face other forms of oppression. But when you take into account how gay rights movements have allowed the focus on incremental progress to take precedence over everything else, the burgeoning camp of anti-Black, transmisogynistic, cis gay white men shouldn't come as any surprise.
Boykin is not the first to argue for ignoring those harmed the most to prevent them from "hijack[ing] or slow[ing] our progress." Just this morning, I wrote a piece about Obama's complicity in damaging poor communities, and the predictable push-back included more than a few responses along the lines of "this is why The Right keeps winning, we're too quick to criticize our own." As the story goes, leftists, or more precisely those most harmed at the intersections of oppression, can never just be happy to see the progress of everyone else–I.e. a rich Black man enjoying the spoils of capitalism. We are expected to fall in line for a long term goal that has never been outlined, knowing full well that there are some of us for whom people never turn back once they get their taste of acceptance into the larger society because larger society hates us.
We have been deluded into thinking that oppression dies by slowly rolling out its mat to reach more and more of the margins it is created in opposition to. Gay marriage did not address the horrifying rates of LGBTQ homelessness, they acknowledge, but it was a first step toward that end, never mind there not being much effort for follow-up steps. We did not learn from how the HIV crisis continues unabated in Black communities even while more and more resources are geared toward normalizing and controlling the disease among those with greater resources. As Glenn Martin states in Ava Duvernay's documentary 13th, “systems of oppression are durable, and they tend to reinvent themselves," and anti-Black, anti-queer violence (and because queerness and gay identity are two different things, they can be separated) reinventing itself looks like Gays for Trump railing against trans people and Muslims and supporting the administration of #45.
It also looks like white gays organizing in opposition to Black Lives Matter in cities around Canada this year in order to show their solidarity with the police. And it goes to show that the narrative of incremental acceptance cannot work when this society is built on anti-Black and anti-queer violence, and demands capitulation to it. The "progress" we laud so often doesn't actually resemble the image we present of one of us making it into the world and pulling another behind her, it looks like her making it into the world because she realized the power of pushing others down. If you want to be accepted, you need to push, too.
Rather than asking the world to accept us, we should be asking if this is the world we want to be in. And if it's not, fuck their world. Let's create a new one.
*Hari Ziyad is a New York based storyteller and writer for AFROPUNK. They are also the editor-in-chief of RaceBaitR, deputy editor of Black Youth Project, and assistant editor of Vinyl Poetry & Prose. You can follow them on Twitter @hariziyad.