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Why Josephine Mathias and Her Followers Completely Miss the Mark with regard to the QPOC Pride Flag Redesign

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By now, you have undoubtedly heard and read about the recent redesign of the LGBTQ Pride Flag which is currently flying in Philadelphia after the group More Color More Pride pushed for the inclusion and representation of Queer People of Color (QPOC). After seeing this news, you probably would have guessed that there would be some controversy from various people in the LGBTQ community. You would have been right to assume that white gays would be among the top complainers and that QPOC would be among the top supporters in this flag’s redesign. Fact of the matter is, you more than likely would have never thought that a black woman would approach this conversation about inclusion, equity, representation and fairness in such a negative manner. Well, you’d be surprised. In her latest video, the Omorosa of the Internet, Josephine Mathias, as she usually does, let her following know, why black people are wrong to want to have a pride flag variation that represents the QPOC community.

Now, I hate to single Josephine out [not because I’m concerned with cyber bullying but because I don’t want to shine light in her direction] but her argument is so uninformed that I have to use her as an example to further the point I regularly make about racism in the gay community. Disclaimer: I know that black people are not a monolith and don’t all need to think as one, but on some issues, like representation, inclusiveness, equity, and equality; Issues based on statistics, facts, data and history [herstory/ hxstory], I think everyone from every background would agree that people of color have had the short end of the stick for at least a couple of centuries (maybe even longer).

Point, Counter Point

Josephine, her followers, and everyone who believes like them first make the argument that “the pride flag isn’t even about skin color.” They then cite information that nobody in the LGBTQ community knew about prior to this debate.

Namely that the colors of the flag represent the joy of being human, as if every gay person shaking their ass in a pride march waving this flag actually knew that the colors were not indicative of all of the people of the world, but actually represented a litany of items necessary for one to be considered part of House of Elrond. And because of this obscure history we are to believe that there is no need for a variation of the flag that includes and brings awareness to QPOC issues; Because “the flag as it is, is already all-inclusive.” And that would be a fine argument if only this entire library of flag variations did not exist.

Yes, there is a flag variation for gay cowboys.

Yes, there is a flag variation for gay men who wear leather.

Yes, there is an “All Lives Matter” flag meant to include “all people” represented by a white stripe.

All of these variations exist and have existed for quite some time. But it’s only now, after QPOC decide to make their own variation, that everyone decides to speak on the (in my gay Republican voice) sanctity of the original flag and everything it represents (accompanied by a “gosh darn it” swinging arm gesture).

So then the counterpoint to the counterpoint is that “sexual orientation does not equal race/ethnicity.” And this is the point at which I believe all of the Josephiners tank hard in their ability to understand…

Circling back to Ms. Josephine for a second, and I don’t encourage you do this, that’s why I’m explaining it for you, Josephine is, in her words to me via Twitter, an Aunt Jemima (female version of Uncle Tom). I don’t remember how I first came across her, to be honest, but I think I was either researching Youtube videos about the election or going down a youtube rabbit hole of Omorosa videos. Either way, I (unfortunately) found her, and (even more unfortunately) watched a few of her videos. Long story short: coonery and buffoonery for the views and subscribers. I believe this, because I refuse to believe that any person (not just a person who happens to be a member of one of the most marginalized groups in history) would spew the garbage that she does. 

… Back on track: the idea that sexual orientation does not equal race/ ethnicity, completely disregards the QPOC experience within the larger Queer community. Aside from the fact that gay cowboys have their own flag to represent their community, there is a flag with an added black bar at the bottom to recognize the those members of the Queer community impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic that swept so many lives away in the 80s.

These flags represent communities and issues within the LGBTQ community. So suggesting that the QPOC subgroup of the larger Queer focus is either not a community within the greater whole, or does not face issues in the light of the larger LGBTQ umbrella would be severely short-sighted at best and highly dismissive of the QPOC experience at worst. In terms of community and culture, QPOC have contributed MUCH. Just think about RuPaul’s Drag Race, all of the “gay lingo” that you’ve adopted over the past few years, Vogue, the sass of your inner BW, and the neighborhoods that you simultaneously cruise/gentrify in search of BBC. In terms of issues, QPOC are greater impacted in areas surrounding new HIV/AIDS infections, despite advances in medications and treatment of HIV/AIDS. In terms of homelessness among LGBTQ youth, QPOC are highly impacted. In terms of inclusion, equity and equality… Well where do you want to begin? Historically Gay Institutions whether they be Gay sports teams, Gay choruses, or anything in between, QPOC are not represented.

So the fact that someone in Philadelphia, a city known for its racism against QPOC in their Gayborhood, noticed this trend and attempted to bring light to their local issues has been met with such hostility in the name of “the original represents everyone already”, when everyone has had their spin on the flag, highlights the extreme cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy of Josephine and anybody who believes the way she does when presented with the facts. It’s sad, but it is 2017, the era of “Alternative Facts.” I guess no community is safe from that level of stupidity. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt, however, and say that she is Canadian. Maybe she just didn’t know that this entire story has its genesis in a city with long standing issues regarding QPOC.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Frederick

    June 15, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    Glad I took the time to check BLASIANFMA’s article. I think Josephine has been libeled and this article is actionable. The author’s desire to display Josephine as an out-of-touch Black woman while incorrect, it is a protected expression. However, to suggest Josephine called herself the equivalent of a female Uncle-Tom is false and injurious. You asked her a question and she answered with a question mark.

    This is not agreement or self-labeling and your retelling of the events is inaccurate and injurious. May I ask you please, do you have any idea how the term ‘Uncle-Tom started?

    The character of Uncle-Tom is the story of Josiah Henson. While he played Uncle-Tom for those searching for escaped Black slaves, he secretly smuggled 300 runaways to Canada via the underground railway. Josiah Henson was a great man of courage and a true hero of freedom.

    The author of this article should be so fortunate to be in such company.

  2. Yannick Taylor

    June 15, 2017 at 11:33 pm

    Thank you for this. How quick some people are especially in the Black Community to deny the dealings we’ve faced and how we’ve been treated throughout history. God, Ancestors, and Lwa help these children.

  3. Elliot bliss

    June 17, 2017 at 4:03 am

    I have to question some of your statements. Can you provide a picture of the gay all lives matter flag? I couldn’t find anything when I googled it and I would think that it would be headlines news. What city halls raised that flag? (If it even exists.) Also as a loyal subscriber of Josephine I dislike your portrayal of her as some uneducated Uncle Tom. Also saying that she describes herself as a female Uncle Tom is just obscenely incorrect. You described her as one and when she had the class to respond in good humor instead of being rightly offended.
    You say that Josephine and her supporters are hypocrites whilst you say conflicting statements such as I don’t believe that black people are a monolith and don’t need to all think the same. You also say that you wouldnt think that a black woman would not approach a conversation about inclusion, equity, representation, and fairness in such a negative light. There is an issue in the gay, black, etc communities that you are a part of. People like you discredit conservative or even sensible liberal members of the gay, black, etc communities by calling them uncle toms ( and then saying they picked it themselves) or saying they have internalized homophobia etc. If you really thought that black people weren’t a monolith you would maybe respect Josephine enough to focus on her points instead of using trash one liners calling her the Omarosa of the internet or again the Uncle Tom thing.
    But you can’t stand opposing viewpoints can you.
    Warmest regards.?

    • johnathan

      June 20, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      It’s literally linked in the article. All you have to do is click and look at it. Is this the level of intelligence we’re currently dealing with now? You read through an article, and then request information that was in that article? God help us if this is the case.

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Advice

Black Gay Men and Their Need to Lie

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This morning I saw a post that said “What are y’all lying about today?” and it made me angry. I sat for a minute and then it dawned on as me as to why a simple post was so activating to my spirit. I am guilty of telling a quick one, to either get out of a situation or to fit into one. Now, come on sis, let’s talk about it, Black gay men and their need to lie

Have you ever told a lie and felt guilty or shameful about it after. Well, I have and the feeling is disturbing to my spirit. Ugh, this topic is so sensitive and its truly getting out of hand. Again, let me be the first to say “yes, I have told a lie or two in my day,” but some of the stories that fall out of the mouths of you girls is beyond the beyond.

Now, that it’s out there no one can use it against me. This is about being vulnerable. I don’t want to be the girl throwing stones at glass houses and hiding my hands. Let’s take a minute to examine and understand how gays become habitual liars. Thus, I blame the backward ass-ness Black Culture, the religion forced on us to accept White Jesus and heterosexual mainstream societal norms have influenced us to create a façade to impress the impressionable, people will like us more than we actually like ourselves.

Reflect back on your life and consider a time where you felt or knew that it was not safe to be your most authentic self. For me, here is where I learned that lying was purposeful, it was before I was comfortable with my sexuality. Hence, when people would ask I if I was gay, I would say no. I even went to the extent of getting a whole girlfriend and a fake relationship. More so, family systems and cultural conditioned me to believe that my sexuality was wrong. That there is no greater taboo than being a Black gay man in Black American. I lied about it because it was the complete opposite of how I wanted people to see me. When I tell you culture and the idea of “what is Black enough,” really fucked me over. Big mistake! People around me already knew I was gay. I wasn’t lying to them, I was lying to myself. Now take this same concept and apply it other areas of your life. See what I am talking about?

So, again, lying keep me safe and bullies off my back, or so I thought. As I grew older, I repeated this behavior. Not telling my own truths somehow seemed to get me the results that I was hoping for. This pattern of behavior was showing up in all my relationships and interactions. I would call into work, lying about being sick. I would turn assignments in late lying about dealing with personal or family issues. Lying about why I can’t make it out for a night with friends or why I have to get off the phone.

Now, I know some of y’all are saying, “I don’t lie about big shit, only when it is a lil white lie.” Girl, you lie when it’s convenient, it’s still a lie, now have a seat. Whether it was lying by omission, not sharing the entire truth or just flat out flipping the script so that you still presented to others in the way you wish to be perceived, it’s still a lie. Just like me, in the past, lying served a real purpose. I was vying for the acceptance and validation from my peers and family members. But today, I’m like fuck it. This is who I am and its either you grow closer to me or we respect each other from a distance. This isn’t about me living my life to keep other people happy, this is about me resting peacefully at night. I will not have disturbed sleep, worrying about if such and such is going to figure out if I lied or not. Newsflash girl, they already know!!!!

And to bring this back full circle,  for the gays, let me put it to you this way. I don’t care how many pairs of Balenciaga’s you don’t really own, if your Goyard luggage is really a Faux-yard, or that you were seen purchasing knock-off Giuseppe Zanotti sneakers from downtown Brooklyn. No one cares. This is all an illusion. An illusion that you have constructed to impress folks with a false image, rather than an unmasked version of who you really are. As we exclaim how we are rooting for everybody Black, I am rooting for everybody Black and Gay to live their best life as their most authentic self. We owe nothing to one. We have to allow our selves to walk in our truth by not allowing the foolishness of others to hold us back.

As always, bring your ideas and thoughts, let’s have a civil conversation. I would love to hear your thoughts. Emphasis on “civil,” because the block game is S T R O N G. Now, I’m not telling y’all to call out folks when you see things aren’t adding up. Allow them to struggle in their own journey, give them the support they need without shaming them. With that note, I’m off. Find me on Instagram @TheCarterReport and Tumblr and Twitter @TheCarterReport, I am always interested in hearing about what you all what to hear about.

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Drag Is Not Exempt From The Isms, In Fact, It Is Entrenched in Them

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Online bullying and harassment is real. Many of the drag race queens have had to endure heinous comments and vicious attacks by folks who call themselves fans. I’ve heard several horror stories, as some queens have shared accounts of their own online experiences.

I think it was Morgan McMichaels who was told to kill herself by an angry (and irrational) fan of BenDeLaCreme in response to a disagreement the two talented queens had on drag race. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and all the other social media platforms are often unkind and disturbing spaces.

DeLa holding up her own lipstick- eliminating herself from the competition.

The further you are on the margins, the more harassment and violence you are susceptible to. I struggle to imagine the experiences of Black trans disabled poor undocumented women on any of the aforementioned platforms, let alone in their lives outside the computer screen and the latest iPhone.

Again, online harassment is real- it takes the form of disgusting words and images, erasure, racism, misogyny, misogynoir, queer and trans antagonism, ableism, and all the other isms. It is sickening (not in the drag way), and a reflection of the times we live in.

As we continue to have critical conversations, it is important that we don’t conflate online harassment with the calling out of white supremacist cisheteropatriarchy which drag race is entrenched in. I feel confident that many queens are intentionally confusing the two to evade accountability, and labeling liberation seekers as attackers.

Drag queens Milk and Trixie posing for the camera.

When a socially conscious fan says, “I think Trixie’s proximity to whiteness was a significant reason she won All Stars 3,” that’s not an act of bullying to Trixie- that is a critique of the violent system we live in.

When a fan says, “Milk’s disrespect of Kennedy Davenport and her drag felt much like anti-Blackness,” again, that’s not an attack on Milk- this is an attempt to hold Milk accountable for their actions, and hopefully spur a conversation that prepares us all to interrogate the ways in which anti-Blackness shows up in our lives.

We live in a system that privileges some folks, and deeply marginalizes others. Drag is not exempt from this system or this conversation; actually, RuPaul has placed drag smack dab in the heart of pop culture. Although we are all queer, that doesn’t mean violence doesn’t exist intracommunity- in particular to Black and brown trans and gender non-conforming folks.

Moreover, when a queen labels social critique as an attack, they themselves are committing violence. They are gaslighting the folks who have a legitimate concern with how the people on the margins of the margins are experiencing a system meant to extinguish their fire. Additionally, we throw away an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation on liberation and accountability.

Although difficult, it’s time for us to be honest. If we’re going to engage these critical conversations, let’s center truth(s). I am observing a lot of conversation on online harassment, and rightfully so. However, I’ve not heard any queen talk about how this toxic system infiltrates drag culture.

There is a reason why. Let’s talk.


Cody Charles is the author of Mudbound: Uncovering The Parts Of Ourselves We Sacrifice In Order To SurviveA Dream Undeterred: 10 Dreams I Want To Live Out In My Black Fat Queer Body In 2018Our Favorite Blackity Black Quotes In Black CinemaEngaging My Black Fat Body, Re-Imagining Black LoveYou Can’t Outdo Black PeopleBlack Joy, We Deserve ItThe Night The Moonlight Caught My Eye: Not a Review but a Testimony on the Film Moonlight5 Tips For White Folks, As They Engage Jordan Peele’s Get Out. (No Spoilers), and What Growing Up Black And Poor Taught Me About Resiliency. Join him for more conversation on Twitter (@_codykeith_) and Facebook (Follow Cody Charles). Please visit his blog, Reclaiming Anger, to learn more about him.

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The Library Is Open: A Few Final Reads On RPDR All Stars 3

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Already in shock that Shangela was barricaded from the top two, I was preparing myself for a Kennedy Davenport win. Kennedy utterly slayed the final lip-sync to an unimpressive song that mostly favored the other queen. Kennedy performed better than her competitor throughout the season, which was not hard seeing that the other half of the top two did not win a single challenge. Because I like to be naive at times, as it can be cute and endearing, I hoped Kennedy would be the choice. However, my ancestors and the spirits who hold my past traumas spoke to me and said, “Sis, you know better than that- we’ve already prepared you for this moment.” So, as RuPaul announced the country queen as the winner, this complicated feeling swept over me. It was a mixture between surprise and this intense calm.

via GIPHY

Because I at times commit to poor decisions, I decided to watch the finale at a local bar- one that is queer friendly. Well, white queer friendly. The crowning was accompanied by the whitest and loudest applause I’ve heard in a bar setting- applause and noise that rivaled any sporting event I’ve ever watched in a public space. This reminds me that I am never safe in this Black fat body, no matter if the setting is queer and well-intentioned.

Yes, I know RPDR is riddled with every ism and phobia, but still I thought better of these people. Click To Tweet

I feel guilty for being angry, because I know this show remains problematic in many ways. However, I am legit sadden by this expected surprise. Yes, I know this show is riddled with every ism and phobia, but still I thought better of these people. And of course someone will soon hop on my timeline telling me that I shouldn’t care so much- and honestly I will probably cuss them the phuck out. I would hope I’d respond differently, but I know my brand. Smh.

This season, this episode, triggered some bad memories and emotions for me. Once again, it told me that I will never be enough in this fat, Black, queer body. Whiteness and white mediocrity will often be the victor, will often be praised, and will do their best to gaslight you when it’s all said and done.

Cast of Paris is Burning

Here are a few insights I must get off my heart. In the tradition of Paris is Burning, I honor the Black and brown queens who made drag what it is today…

The library is open, hunty.

Kennedy Davenport doesn’t deserve your pity. She deserves no one’s pity because she is a boss. She is a champion with or without the crown. She deserved to be in the Top four, and deserved to beat that other gurl in the final two. Not a read, just true.

Shangela was the clear winner. CLEARLY. And her face showed me that she knew she was morally better than most queens in that room, in that moment. Halleloo.

RuPaul once said that drag pokes fun at the rules (a loose interpretation of something he actually said), but in practice has successfully helped white cis-heteropatriarchy thrive in drag. RuPaul is committed to uplifting whiteness, as it is attached to capitalism. Sis wants another Emmy and a much larger check- the internalized anti-Blackness has runneth over, all over those pretty suits and pretty gowns. RuPaul must have sincerely been flattered by the winner’s impersonation of him in the Snatch Game.
…And he is a legend and a trailblazer.

Beware of white people who think this chick with the ethnic puff on the top of her head deserved to win. They are the same people who whisper #AllLivesMatter to one another in Black and brown spaces. They are the same people who love having Black friends, but are absent when violent shyt goes down. They are the same people who are hypercritical of Black queens, but then show up to their shows and events to steal dance moves and drag techniques. They are the Toros of life, a la the white cheerleaders in Bring it On.

The white queen whose name rhymes with silk, and makes me proud to be lactose intolerant is…spolied.

Bebe Zahara Benet is me if I ever do drag. Muva is unshakable. It was clear that she didn’t define her worth by what these other queens thought. She doesn’t have to be crowned the queen because she already knows she is one.

The white queen who dons dreadlocks showed her anti-Black and classist ass in her original season by how she treated both Bob The Drag Queen and Chi Chi DeVayne. <sigh> Some things never change. However, she was the only queen who voted for Shangela to be in the top two.

I was waiting for Aja to conjure Crystal LaBeija once Ru announced the top two. However, Aja chose the Milwaukee queen over Shangela to be in the top two, so perhaps LaBeija was out to lunch with Monique.

I’m noticing on social media that a lot of the Black and brown queens are on this condragulations tour- celebrating a queen that had no business winning, and avoiding any of the racialized critiques. To them, I say be careful. Click To Tweet

I’m noticing on social media that a lot of the Black and brown queens are on this condragulations tour- celebrating a queen that had no business winning, and avoiding any of the racialized critiques. To them, I say be careful. There are young Black and brown queens who are looking up to you, and learning how to address racism and anti-Blackness in this industry by carefully observing your every move. However, I understand that your speaking up puts your booking fee at risk, your livelihood at risk. This is how white supremacy traps Black and brown bodies.

White queens who talk about white supremacy, misogyny, and queer and transantagonism on their platforms, I await your voice in this conversation. It is your responsibility to challenge your fellow white queens, and your problematic followers. Get to it.

I also want to be clear. I believe the winner of the third cycle of All Stars identifies as biracial/multiracial with roots to the Ojibwe people, and that matters in their journey to the crown. And, in this industry, this human still benefits from white privilege in some truly complex ways. Trixie, you have a responsibility in this conversation as well.

The Library is closed, officially.

via GIPHY

In closing.

All (Monique) heart, we love you, Shangela. We love you, Bebe. And we love you, Kennedy. Please continue to shine for usHere is my love letter to you all.

 


Cody Charles is the author of Mudbound: Uncovering The Parts Of Ourselves We Sacrifice In Order To SurviveA Dream Undeterred: 10 Dreams I Want To Live Out In My Black Fat Queer Body In 2018Our Favorite Blackity Black Quotes In Black CinemaEngaging My Black Fat Body, Re-Imagining Black LoveYou Can’t Outdo Black PeopleBlack Joy, We Deserve ItThe Night The Moonlight Caught My Eye: Not a Review but a Testimony on the Film Moonlight5 Tips For White Folks, As They Engage Jordan Peele’s Get Out. (No Spoilers), and What Growing Up Black And Poor Taught Me About Resiliency. Join him for more conversation on Twitter (@_codykeith_) and Facebook (Follow Cody Charles). Please visit his blog, Reclaiming Anger, to learn more about him.

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