I have to admit I’ve never really been a fan of American Idol. The only time I’ve watched a full season was the first one that blessed us with the presence of Kelly Clarkson. Like a neighbor that just doesn’t know when to go home, AI has overstayed its welcome, and it’s surprising to me that the series finale just took place. It seems this would’ve been more appropriate 5 seasons ago before its pop culture influence and ratings prowess faded to near oblivion. But otherwise, I feel like the music reality competition category has unnecessarily simplified the art of creating a music career. While the show has gone on to produce some powerhouse vocalists like Jennifer Hudson, as of late, the show has only really succeeded at making C-list celebrities out of normal people. And not every normal person deserves that kind of attention from us. Finale season runner-up La’Porsha Renae is further proof of this.
Talent aside (I’m basing her talent on the fact that she made it to the finale and not on my own opinion as I did not watch a single second of this last season), her comments about LGBT people prove that she’s not quite ready for the spotlight. And with that extremely drag-friendly name and afro that just begs to be parodied in a future episode of Drag Race’s Snatch Game, she should have a more open mind.
On the surface, maybe her comments, as reported by Logo’s NewNowNext, don’t seem all that bad.
“They are people just like us. They’re not animals as someone stated before. They’re people with feelings.”
“Everybody is a human being. We should be able to coexist with one another.”
“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.”
“We don’t have to agree with each other’s life choices to love/respect one another.”
But here’s where the problem lies. One, being gay is not a lifestyle that one chooses. Presumably, how Renae was ‘raised’ was in a very traditional Christian household in which people used the Bible to argue against homosexuality. Her comments reveal that she doesn’t understand the actual biological facts behind what makes one a homosexual. In my personal experience, I don’t ever remember making a choice to be gay. I did make a choice to stay in the closet and try to blend in with all the straight people because I felt an overwhelming societal pressure to do so. That was a choice. If anything, the only choice I really made was to stop hiding who I was. As her comments would suggest, I didn’t wake up one day and decide to abandon women. Opposite sex attraction was just never a part of who I was. That’s the just way it is.
Yes, in being gay, there are aspects of my life that are different. I celebrate Pride every year. I go to gay bars. I talk about gay issues. But this is not indicative of a chosen lifestyle. These are differences that have to exist because of a lack of acceptance in mainstream culture. But these things aside, the way I live my live on a daily basis is no different from how anyone else lives. I don’t brush my teeth differently because I’m gay. I don’t cook my dinner any differently because I’m gay. I don’t pay taxes any differently because I’m gay. So whenever I hear someone refer to being gay as a lifestyle, I start seeing blood red because it’s a phrase and a view born out of ignorance. A lifestyle that I’ve chosen is that of a freelance writer and entrepreneur. I’ve willingly chosen to abandon the safety and security of guaranteed biweekly pay in order to chase my dreams. That’s a lifestyle choice. Being gay is not something I researched and made a decision about. I’m sick of people referring to it as such.
The other issue with her comments is that she speaks about gay people as though we’re some kind of science experiment. I’m glad that she realized gay people are not animals and that we’re people with feelings. But it doesn’t make me feel accepted or pleased that she’s acknowledging this in her comments. I’m a living, breathing person. So it’s already pretty fucking obvious that I’m not an animal and that I have feelings. What is clear is that Renae will most certainly need to become a highly media-trained celebrity that doesn’t get to do a lot of speaking. She doesn’t indicate the required level of intelligence needed to speak without coaching, editing, or review prior to publication.
"A lifestyle that I’ve chosen is that of a freelance writer and entrepreneur. I’ve willingly chosen to abandon the safety and security of guaranteed biweekly pay in order to chase my dreams. That’s a lifestyle choice. Being gay is not something I researched and made a decision about. I’m sick of people referring to it as such."
And furthermore, a quick scroll through the comments of the NewNowNext article reveal that most of the readers didn’t see any issue with her comments. Sure, she isn’t saying anything outright hateful. She is supportive of equal rights and peaceful coexistence. But it’s her underlying ignorance and implications that make her remarks problematic. These commenters are wiping sweat from their brows because she didn’t say a gay slur or advocate against marriage equality. Someone doesn’t become an ally just because they don’t hate us. Being oblivious to one’s own ignorance is just as dangerous as overt discrimination.
Just as a reality TV singer shouldn’t be heralded as the next big thing after competing on a show for a few months, ‘celebrities’ shouldn’t be accepted as potential allies just for simply acknowledging our basic human rights. I can respect the fact that people have different opinions and come from different backgrounds. But I’m not going to support anyone who speaks about my community or my life without the proper knowledge to truly understand. Especially not someone who’s been in the public eye for 15 minutes.
It’s really a shame she lost…