The Passport of Whiteness: on White Gays and Domestic Acts of Terror
That’s all it took.
6 days for the hydra of whiteness to rear its many heads.
I thought that hoards of predominantly white, cisgender, gays being called out on social media for partying in Puerto Vallarta and being dubbed the “Gay civil war”, was the craziest this first week was going to get.
And then there was an actual civil war.
January 6th. The day armed domestic terrorists, incited by President Donald Trump, stormed the United States Capitol. Allowed into the building, and at times, actively aided by federal police officers.
Two events facilitated and fuelled by the privileges of whiteness.
“Oh and you know if they were Black…”
I know. I know what would’ve happened if they were Black. We all do. We all know because it has happened and continues to happen. They weren’t Black. They were white. White and escorted down the Capitol steps by police holding their hands. White and sitting with their feet up on the desk of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. White and smashing windows without a glint of fear in their eyes.
It is abundantly clear how whiteness allowed these events to play out, but we must also examine the mental landscape of whiteness that provided fertile soil for these ideas to germinate.
The elision of exclusion and oppression.
If you have never been oppressed, whether systemically or violently, then you might confuse your own experiences of exclusion with those of oppression.
Exclusion is not being picked for the football team after tryouts.
Oppression is not being allowed to try out at all. (And if you dare attempt to, being beaten, bloodied, and bruised, in the parking lot afterwards).
For the swarms of gays in Mexico, congregating en masse is the antidote to feelings of exclusion. Bodies that are white, chiselled, and cis-gendered, should not be told to stay home. Stay at home orders do not apply to the hot people. Or rich people. And especially not the hot rich people. For is it not God’s greatest gift to be alabaster and monied? They deserve to be gawked at, drooled over, pleasured.
They feel like they can travel, party, and disregard all safety precautions, because it is their God-given right to do what they want and to not have to consider the ramifications.
In no way are these men being oppressed, but their sheer belief that they are is enough to risk their own, and everyone else’s, lives to party. They do it simply because they want to. And in doing so are not-so-silently saying, “My enjoyment matters more than your life. My holiday matters more than your life. My life matters more than your life”.
For the crowd of armed terrorists descending on DC, congregating en masse is also the antidote to feelings of exclusion. They feel as though they have been excluded from the democratic process, and have conflated that to mean that they are being oppressed by the democratic process.
”Oppression is red lining. Oppression is spreading false voting information in Black neighbourhoods. Oppression is the DNA of the United States of America.
But it didn’t work.
The entire game was skewed in their favour, and when cheating didn’t work, they picked up the monopoly board, threw it at the wall, and staged an insurrectionist coup. From colonists to cowboys, it is the intrinsically White American belief that if you want it, you get it.
Whiteness is both the gardener and fertile soil that plants and germinates these ideas.
It is also whiteness that acts as the passport, the master key, unlocking every door that these men encounter when acting upon their dogged beliefs.
Whiteness is the freedom to enter any space without interrogation.
Whiteness is to exist without interrogation.
Nothing about the events of the past six days, three months, or four years has been surprising. Black folk knew. We have always known. Nothing about this is new. It is whiteness at work. America isn’t “better than this”. This is America. It is built into the founding myth of this land. We want. We burn. We take.
I am not conflating these party gays with the domestic terrorists. However, both groups cavalierly dismiss science and facts that run counter to their own ideology. The ability to do so stems from the same mental terrain of white privilege.
Until today I did not realise that one could have PTSD whilst still processing the very cause of the trauma. Seeing videos of mask-less gays partying bruised my immunocompromised soul that is still trying to get through this thing. But seeing a video of the rioters reenacting George Floyd’s murder on the steps of the Capitol snapped the emotional bone that had not even begun to heal.
Even when Black bodies are not being brutalised, it is so clear that given the chance they would be. The absence of tanks, rubber bullets, tear gas, and dead bodies, still spits in the face of Black people.
Our backs are not breaking. Our backs are broken. Our backs been brook.
Tonight, for the first time in a long time, I go to bed saying a prayer from childhood I used to recite with my Dad as he tucked me in. I am not religious, yet I find peace in these words tonight.
Jesus, tender Shepherd, hear me,
Bless Thy little lamb tonight;
Through the darkness be Thou near me,
Watch my sleep till morning light.
All this day Thy hand has led me,
And I thank Thee for Thy care;
Thou hast warmed, clothed and fed me,
Please listen to my evening prayer.
Let my sins be all forgiven,
Bless the friends I love so well;
Take me, when I die, to heaven,
Happy there with Thee to dwell.
Image sources: Mishko.co