According to a “national diversity expert,” there is now a problem of “black gay privilege” within the black community.
In a Huffington Post article titled “Unmasking Black Gay Privilege,” John Fitzgerald Gates argues that black gay men have advantages over black straight men, creating a “harmful microaggression against all black men.”
Gates references a study by Princeton University researcher David S. Pedulla that discusses “offsetting stereotypes.” The research hypothesizes that since black men are stereotyped as being “aggressive and threatening,” and gay men are stereotyped as being “effeminate and weak,” gay black men should experience less discrimination than their straight black and gay white counterparts.
The study, which was conducted through an online survey, asked respondents to make salary recommendations after reviewing four resumes. The resumes manipulated the race and the sexuality of the applicant. The study concludes, “gay black men received higher salary recommendations, on average, than both straight black men and gay white men.”
Although the study shows that gay black men were granted higher salary recommendations on average than gay white men, Gates is primarily concerned about the implications of black gay privilege for the black community:
Black gay privilege is an attempt by white power elites to erase the shame of their prejudice. But black gay privilege is as great an assault against black gay men as it is against black straight men. For it casts black gay men in the “sambo” image of the past in which black men who were deemed “acceptable” to white employers were caricatured by whites and blacks alike as compliant, affable beings whose primary goal was to please. Hence, black gay privilege is not an endorsement of black gay men, but rather a denunciation of black male authenticity from which some have benefitted.
According to Gates, “to mitigate their shame in being biased against black men generally, some white power elites give preferential treatment to gay black men. After all, they can’t be chided for being prejudiced against black men if they hire ‘the gays.'” Therefore, “black gay men are paid to be compliant.”
Drawing on his own experience as a black gay man, Gates believes that he has personally gained as a result of his black gay privilege: “I have benefitted from black gay privilege throughout my career as a senior human resources, financial and diversity officer. I have accessed spaces and opportunities that ‘stereotypical’ black men were not able to, and I have been in a position to ensure that my salary has always been competitive.”
As a result of his findings on the topic of black gay privilege, Gates asserts his fellow black gay men should check their privilege and “examine the impacts of black gay privilege on their lives.”