Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Black America, Queer Politics, Racism

Racism vs Homophobia


I never really weighed in on the whole Grey’s Anatomy(an American television show)/T.R. Knight/Isaiah Washington(Hollywood actors in the show) faggot-slinging debacle on ATBW or elsewhere. In my real life, I engaged in many debates about which word, nigger or faggot, was worse, if Washington deserved it, and which is more prevalent…black homophobia or gay (non-black) racism.

In my rational mind there really is no difference between being called a nigger or a faggot. Both are stinging insults with deep roots in oppression and domination. However, I tend to lean more to my black side, than my queer side on the politics of insults on a gut level, and I believe that nigger edges out faggot just a bit in the which-is-worse race. Faggot feels more like bitch to me when it’s hurled at me or around me.

I am going thru a situation at work that could be parallel to the Grey’s Anatomy situation. Last Thursday, I was called a “dyke bitch” by one of the workers I was charged with supervising. Over the entire campaign, I worked in a hostile and homophobic environment. Of the 30 workers I supervised, all but three were black. I often had the debate, in my head and outside of it, of which was worse, non-black gay racism or black homophobia. Everyday, I went into work, black homophobia won out.

I am also experiencing the situation of nothing being done about the homophobic slur slung at me by the worker. The entire program management only wants to give this person a written warning, but the organizer has already been written up and according to agreed upon policy, the next step would be firing. This write-up by management seems to be nothing more than a glossing over of the issue and a slap on the wrist and an insincere attempt to address institution-wide homophobia.

So, what I’m getting at with this post is that it all depends on who your boss is if an incident of racism/homophobia is treated with the seriousness it deserves.

Isaiah Washington’s bosses were white industry execs and the target of his homophobia was white, and Isaiah is not white. In my situation, my verbal-victimizer is black and heterosexual and my boss is black and heterosexual, and I am outside of both of those categories. I believe there is community allegiance stuff going on in both situations. However, I do believe Washington deserved to be fired, even in spite of his homophobia-therapy and his PSA. Unfortunately, some people deserve to be made examples of.

Isaiah Washington was recently interviewed by Newsweek about being fired from Grey’s Anatomy and stated that he believed race had much to do with his being fired. I have to say, Washington had some brilliant and hysterical quotes about his experience as a Black man, and I agree with them 100 percent.

–“My mistake was believing that I would get the support from my network and all of my cast mates across the board. My mistake was believing I could correct a wrong with honesty and sincerity,” he said in the interview posted online Thursday.

–“My mistake was thinking black people get second chances. I was wrong on all fronts,” he said.

–His unwillingness to act like a submissive black at work was part of the problem, Washington said.

–“Well, it didn’t help me on the set that I was a black man who wasn’t a mush-mouth Negro walking around with his head in his hands all the time. I didn’t speak like I’d just left the plantation and that can be a problem for people sometime,” he said.

–“I had a person in human resources tell me after this thing played out that ‘some people’ were afraid of me around the studio. I asked her why, because I’m a 6-foot-1, black man with dark skin and who doesn’t go around saying ‘Yessah, massa sir’ and ‘No sir, massa’ to everyone?

–“It’s nuts when your presence alone can just scare people, and that made me a prime candidate to take the heat in a dysfunctional family,” he said.

And in my case, I really believe my boss would rather have me “‘Yessah, massa sir’ and ‘No sir, massa’ to everyone?” as well, and just take this “dyke bitch” indignity lying down. But, I’m afraid I am no submissive, mush-mouth, Black lesbian!


  1. Wow, I’m sorry you’re having to undergo the sh*t. I don’t know which is worse, or if there is a worse one, because if one’s worse the other’s better. And that ain’t true. Both are hateful and spiteful and unnecessary and irrational. Like hating someone for their left-handedness.

  2. Sokari

    Kym@ This is horrible – there isnt a “worse” because both impact on you in the same way because it is hitting out at your core “being” black and lesbian.

  3. acolyte

    I dont support Isaiah’s statements but let’s keep it real, had he been white and T.R Knight been black; Washington would still have his job.
    The hammer always falls harder on black folk.

  4. Osas

    Acolyte may or may not be right (Don Imus sure got the boot up his white ass for a racist *and* sexist comments on nappy hair, hoes etc.). But on the CNN site, a reader named Kenny summed it up nicely when he wrote:

    “I think Isaiah Washington should’ve been fired to begin with. He was dumb enough to use the gay slur at an awards show in front of all the press and the cast. He now is trying to act like it was all T.R’s fault and T.R should of been fired, and has not taken any responsiblity for his actions. The only reason why he entered counseling and did an informercial was to try to save his career, and the infomercial showed to me no sincerity.”

    Now, as to the juxtaposition of either insult, I feel in no position to judge which be “worse”. My being queer does not tilt the scale in either way. But what is sure, is that black homophobia is a BIIIIIIIIG lot more *prevalent* than gay (or lesbian) racism.


  5. To tell you the truth, equating homosexuality with being of African descent is ridiculous. Tens of millions of homosexuals have not been dragged out of Africa and made slaves off.

    White homosexual entertainment industry executives from David Geffen to Barry Diller finance and perpetuate the Minstrel image of black people throughout the planet. Hollywood is rife with white homosexual executives who comfortably talk about “shvarze” in front of black entertainers and talent.

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