There is an ongoing debate about the concept of black gay privilege. Princeton University researcher David S. Pedulla released a study earlier this year that suggested gay black men also reap the benefits of societal privilege. Because black gay men are perceived to be less threatening than straight black men, they are often offered better job opportunities and higher salaries.
That’s great, right? I don’t have to worry about facing the same stereotypes as other black men because my sexuality makes me less threatening. Fantastic! No discrimination for me. I feel sorry for the straight black guys because they have a lifetime of prejudice, shitty jobs, and low salaries ahead.
Wrong. There’s so much stereotyping going on here, I don’t know where to begin. First, what is it that makes straight black men threatening? Only inaccurate pre-conceived notions, otherwise known as racism or bigotry, could define an entire race and gender of people as threatening. Ignorance leads to fear. This study would suggest that all employers automatically assume that black men will be threatening employees-angry, brute, and unprofessional.
Gay black men come in all shapes and sizes. Not all of us are obviously gay meaning that some of us could fall prey to the same prejudice that affects our straight counterparts. Being gay does not equal femininity. We are not all one person, and I refuse to accept that the theory presented in this study is true.
If there’s a gay black privilege, my bank account sure didn’t know it the first 5 years I was living in New York. I like to think that my uncompromised work ethic and natural skill led me to higher ranking positions and better salaries later in my career. I didn’t catch any breaks for being both black and gay. But I didn’t face any discrimination either. At a time when both black people and gay people are still fighting for true equality, to say that gay black privilege exists gives us far too much credit as a nation. We are not evolved enough for this phenomenon to exist. We haven’t satisfied the basic requirements of equality. Isn’t equality a prerequisite for privilege?
I’m not denying that prejudice exists. It’s out there for all of us. For the black men. For the gay men. For us all. But the notion that any of this has helped me get ahead faster is just ridiculous. Black gay privilege does not exist. And the acknowledgment of this study is only further supportive of stereotypes and deep-rooted racism. If you truly believe in equality, then this study has no place in our society. There’s already enough bigotry in the world without trying to hide it under the guise of educational research.