By E. Young
Queer dating in the south is already tough; add on blackness, and you open up a whole new can of fuckery.
Back around 2009, I took a break from my local queer scene because I got tired of white people. You might think to yourself, “Oh, white gays? Us too!” But I mean all of them. White gays, white lesbians, white bi folks, white drag queens. I got tired of the umbrella of LGBTQ+ being used as an excuse for blatantly racist and fetishist behavior. I got tired of the lack of space, of teaching and re-teaching, of the fragility and sensitivity. I got tired of expecting other marginalized folks to know better. Turns out y’all don’t, so I got over it.
As time went on and I grew apart and grew up, I got a little lonely for my people. I realized I at least wanted more friends, and maybe a romantic companion. So around Pride 2017, I decided to give it a go. I went through a couple of apps to avoid the dreaded app that shall not be named — the one not known for promoting lasting relationships. Due to its popularity in my area, though, I caved in. Damn.
I took a break from my local queer scene because I got tired of white people.
Look, I can admit to being a bit of a tough sell. I’m nonbinary, I’m a goth, I’m polyamorous, and I’m a fat femme who likes to keep my nails lengthy…which apparently still scares lesbians. None of these things make me particularly special, but all of them combined form a damned Voltron of Weirdo Blackness. It’s been a struggle!
After a few months on The App with risky successes and mundane failures, I started indulging in the petty Leo/Aquarius habit of screencapping profiles to clown at my leisure. Receipts for a rainy day, if you will. Most of them were unabashed gun lovers and creepy dudes until I dropped myself in the exclusively queer pool. Still some unabashed gun lovers, but also a darker source of comedy: white progressives doing the most.
As a hardened veteran of Internet Social Justice Debates, I know well that it doesn’t take a lot for progressives on the internet do the absolute most for the least gain. But still I wondered to myself why these so-called feminists, leftists, progressives and all were tagging their profiles with “radical” and “BLM” and “intersectional feminist” (you’re not even using that right, Becky) instead of details about their hobbies. My assumption was that these bylines were dogwhistles for other white folks. I wondered: what white person in Dixieland is really concerned with Black Lives?
A horrific truth settled in bit by bit as I spoke to them: this was supposed to make me feel safe. I was supposed to reach out to these people like beacons of hope in the night.
A horrific truth settled in bit by bit as I spoke to them: this was supposed to make me feel safe. I was supposed to reach out to these people like beacons of hope in the night. This was the underground railroad of progressives in the south! Well, except most of these people were also transplants looking for someone to “show them around town”. Buy a damn map, Becky.
If anyone should balk at my skepticism, let’s talk about this phenomenon. Considering that my state is red as can be and I’ve lived here the majority of my life, all I personally ask is that you not display a confederate flag or burnt up cross in your front yard. These people should be a godsend. But here’s the problem with these siren calls: Fake solidarity. I’ve been down the rabbit hole of movement women/men/people before. It’s a fuck and a knitting circle. It’s “I’ve never been with a “___” before. It’s the dominant looking for outside experiences so they can expand their understanding of oppression to further engage in whataboutery. It’s posturing. Solidarity until you make them uncomfortable and it’s retracted (unless they’re into you making them feel uncomfortable, ugh).
It’s posturing. It’s solidarity until you make them uncomfortable and it’s retracted.
I’m working on being a better person, so I tried these matches for a while. We’d meet cute, discuss interests, and chat about our ideas on polyamory. We would talk about The Struggle as if theirs was the same as my own. My hands were komboloi for meditating on police violence. I felt undesirable except as a political topic. It made me wonder why I even bothered queer dating if they were just going to mimic their cissexual/heterosexual peers. One could argue it’s just paranoia on my side. Leos aren’t known for subtlety or dearth of self confidence, so it could even be incidental. It could just be that people suck. Or it could be all of these things combined!
Maybe I’m a bitter bitch. But don’t take my word for it. Read some accounts of abuse at the hands of progressives to understand the hesitancy. Listen to stories of alienation from whole communities all at the hands of people who have told you to trust them so they can manipulate your need for community. They use the same lingo. At the end of the day, buzzwords are all they have. When it comes to forming actual relationships and building community, if you’re not there for them to drain for emotional labor, they don’t want any.
Unfortunately, I’m no one’s token or free labor so I finally sent that nonsense back to sender. My inbox and my life have been dry as fuck, but it’s better than Activist Amy drying me up over coffee. Before you jam your cute little profile full of Intersectional Feminist Lives Matter, ask yourself, “am I trying to convince someone else or myself?” Real people don’t have to say what they’re about. Prove it with actions, not words. Donate to a charity or volunteer on the weekends if you can without taking shots for the Instagrams. And especially when I’m looking for a chance encounter, I don’t give one damn iota about your personal politics or who you campaigned. See you on the other side of my tapped phone line, fucking feds.
E. Young is a queer Southern writer. Pretty queer, quite black, and equipped with only the hottest of takes, they can be found wherever bad movies are sold. Has too many cats and not enough time for anything, and is in fact only kind of mad some of the time.