Thursday, 21 June 2012

Racism on the gay scene:Gollywog in the Drag Ball

Very creative

Two friends of mine headed out to Horse Meat Disco for one of their infamous drag balls. I actually considered going, drag balls sound like a lot of fun! Only it wasn't FUN they experienced but disbelief in noticing a white man in drag... As a golliwog. The costume "good golly miss molly" attracted the attention it sought to create. But not the negative attention you would expect. It was met with laughter because it's funny, right? I mean look, he can't be racist can he? As you can see from the above photograph-some of his best friends are black. In fact when he was challenged on his choice of attire his monotone response was "that's nice" he didn't give a shit. Good for him, because of course-all us black women have alien eyes and lips so big we feel the need to decorate them with haberdashery related items. Oh... and beards.

This costume is offensive beyond belief and speaks a lot for the institutional racism prevalent in LGBTQI society. The fact this photo was printed in QX Magazine speaks volumes and the only thing I can deduce from this is the fact they must of found it funny too. Bad QX Magazine, that was not okay because guess what? There are a number of black queer folk you have offended. How is this any different to historical characters such as; Jim Crow, Sambo and all the other stereotypical portrayals of black people denounced en masse as deeply offensive decades ago? With the recent controversy about the Swedish cake eating incident is this a sign of things to come? To all the people who don't see a problem with it, let me give you a little history lesson.

The term Jim Crow is most commonly known as a collection of etiquette laws (Jim Crow Laws) with the sole purpose of  cementing the status of white supremacy over blacks in America. The term was derived from a character created by struggling actor Thomas Dartmouth "Daddy" Rice. Rice is said to be one of the first men to black up and perform theatrical skits based on negative stereotypes of black people. Some say he based his character on a slave who walked with difficulty others say it was based on a raggedy black stable boy. In this he finally found the success he craved performing sell out shows all over America, London and Dublin. Aside from "Jim Crow" were counterparts Jim Dandy and Zip Coon. White audiences greatly received the highly stereotypical depictions of blacks as inferior, singing, wide grinning, dancing fools. These caricatures would spawn the minstrel shows which were very popular in the 19th century. These shows added fuel to the fire of discrimination as blacks were not only used for economic gain but for entertainment too. On an interesting side note when I went to see Young Soul Rebels at a gay film fest. In the film, following a particularly harrowing scene the same black people that were previously crying/despairing were shown to be grinning and dancing in a way that didn't make sense since they had been traumatised only the minute before-this portrayal still exists, though it's a more subtle affair. Anyway I digress... To dress up as a golliwog is not okay especially since the racial slur "wog" came directly from the name of that offensive doll.

Jim Crow

Dear man who thought that costume was okay. Your costume does nothing but give credence to the idea that black women are ugly and subhuman. Black women are not tools to mock and belittle. You let yourself down. I'm only to assume that you're uneducated, lack respect, racist or all the above. You let yourself down even if you're too stupid to realise it. You deeply offended my friends, one is black the other was white. Although, you already know this since they were the ONLY people in the ball who took offence. Horse Meat Disco do not come off very well either. When one of my friends posted on the Horse Meat Disco wall the comment was removed. Why is that? What exactly are you censoring? Is it to preserve the idea that racism is okay and any oppositional view must be covered up? Is your club a safe haven for racism? Thanks for making people angry because had you opened up a dialogue with the offended parties it could've been contained. Now it will not be. Ignorance is neither bliss nor a defence..

Sirena Reynolds

P.S There's a link to the article on QX Magazine below. I don't want to give them traffic but it must be seen to be believed