The relationship between Black queer men and Black women is complex, beautiful, and ugly at the same time.
Joy-Ann Reid’s most recent dealings around a homophobic past, with newer alleged blog posts about a homophobic present, detail just how complicated this relationship can be at times. Watching Reid’s ascension into a media powerhouse was a great comfort for many of us, who really look at her as an ally and advocate on LGBTQ issues.
In a blog post from 2007-2009, Reid speculated about the sexuality of former Republican Florida governor, Charlie Crist by discussing her belief that he was closeted. Reid even referred to him as “Miss Charlie,” tagging him on her now defunct blog under gay politicians. Reid took full accountability and responsibility for her actions stating:
“I regret the way I addressed the complex issue of the closet and speculation on a person’s sexual orientation with a mocking tone and sarcasm. It was insensitive, tone-deaf and dumb.”
Since that time, we have seen her grow. She has become an ally to the LGBTQ community and was recently awarded by PFLAG with the “Straight for Equality in Media” award. Unfortunately, that honor has since been rescinded due to the investigation into these new allegations.
As someone who writes primarily about the Black LGBTQ community, Reid has liked and shared some of my work, even becoming a mutual follower some months ago. And yet, these latest revelations of old blog posts don’t necessarily come as a total surprise.
Some may call me a hypocrite for taking this approach with Reid juxtaposed to how much harder I have been on the hip-hop community regarding their abject homophobia and toxic masculinity but hear me out. The demonstration in her growth is extremely important to note when we are discussing the trust we give people with our queer lives and narratives. The acknowledgement of that should come into account as we begin to address the issues many of us are currently having with her alleged statements.
I’ve seen many state that the posts don’t read “in her style of writing,” which is fair. I’ve seen many journalists, social media influencers, and media reps of various races and gender state that “They stand with Joy.” I’ve also seen queer people state how her homophobic past means that she has the capacity to have a homophobic present, as we have been here before with many others.
Taking all of that in, I find myself in a space of being tired. The Black community often absolves our people of accountability when discussing homophobia—a pass we don’t give as quickly to misogynists—and the hurt we feel as queer people when we are told to simply get over it.
I write this to truly talk about accountability— what it looks and how this could play out so that EVERYONE can honestly grow, because homophobia didn’t have a place in 1818, 1918, and certainly not 2018.
For the record, Reid has stated that her blog was “hacked.” Now, we all know that we have heard the “I’ve been hacked” defense before, and that for some it was a legitimate claim. I’m not even going to focus on the hacking aspect of this story because despite whether or not, Reid was hacked, my concern squarely lies in how one takes ownership when they have the platform to really address an issue.
I would love to see the day that when a person uses their voice to bring attention to a topic, regardless of whether or not they said something to the left or to the right of an issue. It would help shed a light on why we all need to and can do better. Sometimes, it’s not just enough to say “I didn’t do it” when you have power to effectively move the needle of people who really do think (even unconsciously) in homophobic ways.
Reid has a real opportunity to use her platform, access and resources to address this issue in a major way. She has ample access to Black LGBTQ leaders and thinkers in this community who can address this issue proficiently. She has the backing and trust from the Black community to be the kind of leader who can help shift this conversation to a place where we all have a seat at her table and really talk about how we break the cycle of colonization that got us into hating our own. Lastly, she can help us figure out where we go from here.
This is where I stand today as an Black Queer journalist and activist who is tired to death of homophobia killing our people. Yes, I’m less concerned about the “hacking” or “the past” and much more concerned about what growth and accountability look like.
I stand with Joy. I stand with Black Queer folk. Most of all, I stand with tearing down the institution of whiteness that got us to this f**ked up place.
George M. Johnson is the Managing Editor of BroadwayBlack.com. He has written for Ebony, TheGrio, TeenVogue, NBC News and several other major publications. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.