George is Tired…Of “Outing” and Performative LGBTQ Allyship

These two topics could honestly be taught as a college level course, but I only have 850 words or so, so I will do the best I can with two issues that were recently intertwined, causing chaos all throughout the Twitter streets this weekend.

Let’s start with “Outing.” Outing is when a person exposes another person’s sexuality without the consent of said person. It is a dangerous practice, that in its most heinous state can lead to death. Outing is not a joke. It is not a way to get back at a person, and all it does is perpetuate stigma around homosexuality and transness, while keeping more people discreet, forcing many of them to live on the “DL.” And I’m gonna get on why those on the “DL” need a serious come to Jesus moment later in the piece.

Now, I know the term “DL” bothers folks, but let’s face it. There are still a lot of people who identify as such and it’s not without reason. We don’t live in a society that allows for people, specifically cishet men, to be openly bisexual or date trans people without fear of stigma and shaming. We also don’t live in a society where a large majority of cishet men who engage sexually and romantically with the LGBTQ community are bold enough to do so publicly. So, it leaves us here. With LGBTQ people being the “dirty” secret of society.

Now, none of us are stupid enough to think that every athlete on every professional sports team is heterosexual. We also know this to be true of the rap industry, Hollywood, media, and basically every other celebrity group. So, we have come to understand that there are a lot more people who are part of the LGBTQ community or engaged sexually with us than are being shown.

Now, my “DL” beloveds. You don’t have the right to threaten folks because you are afraid that someone will find out about your truth. You do have the right to not engage with us if your fear is that strong, because people aren’t obligated to be your secret, burden, and shame. Our community can never move the needle forward if people on the “DL” don’t start living on the “Up High.” Too many people in the LGBTQ community are being met with violence and death over this culture, and we can’t survive much longer. Your “truth” must outweigh your fear at some point. Now, back to the “outing.”  

When a person decides to out one of these celebs, it does more harm than it could ever do good. The threat alone of outing has deadly consequences. The fear of being outed has led many to react in violent ways towards their LGBTQ partner. Outing is never okay. It perpetuates the stigma that person who is engaged sexually with someone in the LGBTQ culture has done something to be ashamed of.

Which brings us to this weekend. When a gay man decided to allegedly expose basketball player Dwight Howard, while being homophobic, transphobic, and bottom shaming. Throughout the thread, references were made to raw sex, being “Magic Johnson 2.0,” and to Dwight being a bottom. Now, you gotta be a special type of gay to use language that harms and stigmatizes the majority of your own community just to prove a point (a point we are all still trying to find). The worst part about this messy tirade was the photo of a transgender woman posted as a person Dwight had a sexual encounter with.

Which gets us to the performative allyship. Over the past week, we have seen so many speak out in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance. It was in all honesty nice to see so many using their platforms to uplift trans people on that day. Unfortunately, as Twitter turned into a cesspool of transphobic attacks against any of us defending trans women, those same voices who claimed to be by our side just days ago went silent (trust that we see y’all).

Cause I’ll be honest — I didn’t see enough people speaking up. As me and many others in the LGBTQ trenches were being called everything but a child of God, I watched a lot of those who claim to be with us stay on the sidelines, and that shit can’t last. I’m seeing too many women deny trans women womanhood and not enough helping to stop that narrative. I’m seeing too many gays act like trans people aren’t in our community, as if our denial of them would get us closer to our liberation.

It is in moments like this that we need the community, the Black community in particular, to get over their bullshit and help right the wrongs of colonization that taught us to be divisive in such ways. Trans women are being killed. There is an attempt to deny trans people the ability to exist and too many are silent, especially when it is Black and Brown trans people being hurt the most. Allyship is most necessary when it’s not the trending topic. Allyship is most necessary when it’s most uncomfortable. How many more hits will you watch Black folk take while you pretend that you really care about Black lives?


George M. Johnson

George M. Johnson is a black queer journalist and activist located in the Nyc area. He has written for TheRoot, ET, HIVequal, TheGrio, TeenVogue, NBC News and several other major publications.

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