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White Queer Folks Have A Straight Celebrity Problem

White Queer Folks Have A Straight Celebrity Problem

Taylor Swift in the Lavender Haze video
Taylor Swift/Youtube

Unpacking this obsession and the erasure of POC queers that follow.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine, Dani Janae, tweeted (or X-ed…I don’t know) about one of the many times I was talking about gay shit online—specifically in the dykin’ realm—as I often do, and a white queer responded with wondering how an ACTUAL dyke would feel about it.

Now, I don’t claim to be wildly popular on the interwebs, but if you come across me there is no way that you do not clock me as gay. A dyke. Queer. A leseabeeand. And if you don’t know that, it takes very little research to find out that I am very online and very part of the family. I already experience “Femme Invisibility” in the real world—where folks presume I am straight because of how I present—but online it is impossible to read me as anything but queer.

What was I tweeting about you ask? How I am VERY over queers, specifically white queers, who tend to label obviously and openly straight celebrities as queer, while simultaneously overlooking and downplaying the identities of Black and other people of color (POC) celebrities who have openly voiced their LGBTQ+ identities.

The white lesbian obsession with straight celebrities is…WILD. Desirability often comes to the forefront of my mind when it comes up. Lesbians claim to be a group that is welcoming—and wanting—of all. Every shape, size, color, and more is all wanted at the Buffet of Eating Box, but that’s not the true reality. It comes to light in the community what is actually wanted (insert fetishism here) and desired and it often is through celebrity discourse. Straight celebrities, who are often white, thin, and cis-gendered women, are fawned over, labeled as secretly queer, and spawn constant discourse where their lyrics are dropped and analyzed by a group of hopeful sapphic sleuths.

Taylor Swift performs

Shutterstock

When I bring this up, I usually get hit back with a few things. After I get called a hater or jealous (because God forbid a Black woman call out anything) some say it is an attempt to expand the queer community by claiming allies who might not have publicly identified as queer. This desire to see these straight and beloved celebrities as allies can be rooted in an honest hope for wider acceptance of queer folks. Fine. But we have to balance that want with three things—critical thinking, honesty, and keeping family first.

We must be mindful that the queer dollar and queer admiration are huge to straight celebrities. We often set the trend, and once you get a queer person to love you and your work, you’ve got a fan—and a check—for life. Think about who performs at our Pride parades, who we keep in a Vegas residency over the decades, and whose careers we breathe a second life into with our drag performers. We also need to get real about why we want to claim some of these artists as our own, this is specifically for lesbians. Just say that you’re attracted to that type of woman, you don’t need to do a study of her discography to say that you think she’s pretty. Lastly, it's crucial not to overshadow the authentic experiences of queer folks, particularly those from marginalized communities. While you’re obsessing over a song a straight white woman wrote with the word ‘lavender’ in it, there are 2 or 3 Black, very queer artists who have released albums with lyrics that you don’t have to demystify (See: Joy Oladokun, Brittany Howard, Victoria Monet, and so many more).

Victoria Monet, actual queer artist.

Victoria Monet on the red carpet

Shutterstock

It raises questions about the importance of representation within the community. The LGBTQ+ community is diverse, but representation of this diversity is not always shown accurately in mainstream media or social discourse. When white queer folks claim straight celebrities as queer—and have constant discourse on how they are secretly telling us they are— they not only downplay the legitimacy of LGBTQ+ identities but also perpetuate a type of erasure that hella affects Black and POC queer folks.

This shows the privilege and power dynamics within the queer community. It highlights how the experiences, and desires of white LGBTQ+ folks are sometimes prioritized over those of people of color, even within a marginalized group.

This is Brittany Howard, queer artist, get into it.

Brittany Howard performs

Shutterstock

My tweet was an expression of frustration at the double standards and biases that exist within our community. It was a cute call for white queers to be more conscious of the representation they want in our pop culture. It was also a reminder to stop erasing the Black and queer artists who have historically been overlooked. Also, hate to break it to you white dykes but that girl is straight as hell, and the only thing her fingers are going to be strumming is her guitar.

Views expressed in PRIDE’s opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of PRIDE.com or our parent company, equalpride.

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Shelli Nicole

Shelli Nicole is a Detroit-born culture writer, critic & editor. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Architectural Digest, Thrillist, and others. Written works are often personal narratives of her Black & queer experience with a focus on pop culture coverage from an intersectional lens. You can find her on Instagram or more likely on Letterboxd trying to clear out her watchlist.

Shelli Nicole is a Detroit-born culture writer, critic & editor. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Architectural Digest, Thrillist, and others. Written works are often personal narratives of her Black & queer experience with a focus on pop culture coverage from an intersectional lens. You can find her on Instagram or more likely on Letterboxd trying to clear out her watchlist.