“You know I’m not gon’ diss you on the internet,
‘Cause my mama taught me better than that!”
— Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” (2001)
We thought the Beyoncé-penned Destiny’s Child classic “Survivor” taught us better than to diss people on the internet. We thought, perhaps, that her fans’ mamas taught them better than that… but apparently not. A recent article on The Huffington Post, by Carlos Maza, attacked Beyoncé’s for “ignoring” her gay fanbase because she didn’t speak out about a LGBT issue in her hometown of Houston. However, we at EST. 1997 feel as though the attack is a bit absurd for a number of reasons. As usual, if something’s wrong, people blame it on Yoncé, and we’re tired of it. She might’ve asserted that girls run the world, but, newsflash to her fans: she actually doesn’t, literally, run the world. “I can’t take no more” of the criticism and neither can Charneil, and I’ll leave the rest to him because he tackles the topic way more eloquently and diplomatically than I would’ve. –Vincent
What the Gays keep missing about stardom & solidarity
Beyoncé has become a global icon for one reason; she’s great at what she does. Her ascent to the summit of pop stardom is nothing short of empowering and inspirational. From every high note to every stage stomping dance move, she has her role as a performer down to a science. Her work ethic is virtually unmatched and her dedication to bringing her art as close to perfection as possible is what has captured the hearts of millions. She’s risen to such a level because of her talent, drive, and the assistance of great publicity and marketing teams. The very recent attacks on her character and questioning of her fan appreciation by Carlos Maza of The Huffington Post, after her silence on proposed anti-gay legislation in her hometown, are unnecessary and unwarranted. Mainly, in the context that we don’t hold her peers to these standards. This not the first, and probably won’t be the last, time Beyoncé has been unfairly bashed concerning her support for her gay fans. It’s for her art, not activism, that Beyoncé has become great. Let’s take care to remember she is a pop star, not a politician.
“If something’s wrong, blame it on me…
— Destiny’s Child’s “Dot” (2000)
That’s what a lot of the mainstream LGBT movements and organizations miss about Beyoncé and probably the root of their frustration with the singer. We’ve seen countless other contemporary artists (music, and otherwise) build fan bases by co-opting movements to garner fanfare and attention. Lady Gaga, for example, built her base by being incredibly vocal about LGBT rights, specifically around marriage equality and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (both issues that alienate and nullify a large portion of sexual and gender minority people). We’ve seen the mainstream gay community embrace artists that skyrocketed to fame by caricaturizing and lampooning their existence. I’m looking at Katy Perry, whose first hits “I Kissed A Girl” and “Ur So Gay” respectively immoralized and exoticized gay life and used the label “gay” as ill-attempt at emasculation. I think the knee-jerk, Beyoncé-scapegoating reaction and response to the passing of the aforementioned legislation is in poor taste. So much of mainstream LGBT culture has become easily impressed by anyone with any heightened level acknowledging them; it’s set a very dangerous precedent. We as a community have become so enamored by these dubious, pseudo-political pop stars that we mistake their fan recruitment for allyship. Then we expect it from anyone that has any semblance of a gay fan base.
“To the other men that respect what I do,
Please accept my shine.”
— Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)” (2011)
There is one major issue that is missed in the effort to paint Beyoncé as an opportunistic appropriator of her gay fans money, and unappreciative of their support: solidarity. To be fair, she may not be an explicit and fervent supporter of the LGBT community but she’s always happily celebrated the victories of the movement openly. Like so many Black people, she has to show up to so many fights on the social justice front that it can prove exhausting. She’s spoken out on a plethora of causes: child hunger, women’s rights, poverty, homelessness, gun control, education, and criminal justice reform.
“I just want them to know,
That I gave my all, did my best,
Brought someone some happiness,
Left this world a little better just because,
I was here.”
— Beyoncé’s “I Was Here” (2011)
All of these causes, the majority of large LGBT organizations and publications stay silent on. These same issues, ones that aren’t brought to the forefront of the very White-fronted LGBT rights movement, plague LGBT folks of color and poverty alike. Issues pushed to the back burner in favor of championing marriage equality, which to be frank, only serves folks that have assets and property to protect and retain (See above mentioned issues). So, why is it only when Beyoncé doesn’t speak specifically on LGBT issues that she isn’t doing enough? Where were the major players on the LGBT front when Beyoncé was rallying in New York City in protest of Trayvon Martin’s death or bailing out #BlackLivesMatter protesters? There wasn’t as much as a tweet in support of oppressed Black folks from the HRC. Unfortunately, the first time they spoke about any major current event affecting the Black community was the massacre in Charleston.
“If we all stand together this one time,
Then no one will be left behind,
Stand up for life, stand up for love.”
— Destiny’s Child’s “Stand Up For Love” (2005)
How can folks ask this Black woman to give her voice in support of a cause when a movement is actively ignoring the needs of their own folks carrying the burden of the intersectional issues that she is championing? Yes, to have the voice and support of those in influential positions are important but to be so petulant when it’s not granted is ridiculous. All in all, the LGBT community has a long way to go on the solidarity front. Asking for support of marginalized folks simply on the basis of platform or an imagined sense of empathy is misguided. We should all take a lesson in allyship and learn to practice it before we demand it of others.
“I’m left with no shoulder,
But everybody wants to lean on me,
I guess I’m their soldier,
Well, who’s gonna be mine?”
— Beyoncé’s “Save the Hero” (2008)