On June 25, Cardi B posted an audio message to her Twitter account. In the clip, she explained why she left social media for a bit. She said that some people made her feel "weird" and "uncomfortable" when talking to other artists in real life. Among the people she blamed for this were "15-year-olds" and "twinks."
For those who don't know, a twink is a young gay man. He is usually between the ages of 18-25 and has a lean, thin body type. He is usually more feminine and fits the stereotypical archetypes associated with gay men. It's a term that seems to have its roots in gay porn, as a way to identify different categories of films. In more recent years, however, the term has gotten more mainstream attention, largely thanks to the internet.
"I said what I said and I'm not taking it back!!! Ya love to hide behind black female artist pictures on your avi and be the ones saying the most disrespectful shit about women & dictating their moves and start wars between female artist fans ALWAYS!"
I particularly believe her comments were rooted in homophobia. Yet, there wasn't a public outcry. If anything, the public (including her gay fans) went along with it and cheered her on. It was accepted and people agreed with her, even though she was generalizing about a group of people. She was targeting people because of their sexuality.
I can't say I was shocked by this, however. I see people, particularly gay men, talk this way on social media all the time. It's particularly common on Twitter. So it didn't surprise me that someone like Cardi B would not only find it acceptable to talk like this, but not receive any backlash for doing so.
You need to bear in mind that Cardi is talking about users on social media that she assumes are twinks. Assume is the key word here. After all, she admits herself that she doesn't know what these folks look like. She claims they're using avatars of Black female celebrities. Therefore, she doesn't know their race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, body type, or age. She has absolutely nothing concrete to prove these are "white twinks" and yet, she makes that assumption.
This is where the problem lies. Yes, a large portion of a female artists' audience is gay men. Yes, fans and media alike enjoy pitting artists against each other. And yes, it is perfectly normal to be frustrated or overwhelmed by such a thing. However, when you target a particular racial and sexual group to take your frustration out on, there's a problem.
Homophobia in the hip hop world is far too common, even today. DaBaby recently made headlines for making ignorant comments about gay men and HIV/AIDS on stage at the Rolling Loud festival in Miami. The homophobia that you come across in hip hop mostly comes from men. It's part of the toxic masculinity that is so prevalent in our culture. However, it has an influence on certain women as well. We just allow those women to get away with it a bit more.
As gay men, some of us came to find that women were our closest allies growing up. When we were kids, a portion of us felt more comfortable socially around girls. The boys would sometimes spot our being different and bully us for it. Due to this, some of us mostly had friends who were girls. We barely knew anyone else who was gay. If they were, they were most likely closeted.
This experience sticks with us as adults. Therefore, if we hear homophobia coming from women, we are generally more lenient. We would be fools to say that the girls didn't make fun of us growing up too. But since they were the closest thing we had to a friend group, we usually dealt with it. As adults, we carry around this fear that if we alienate our female allies by calling out their homophobia, we'll be alone.
Even though we've most likely made a ton of gay friends in our adulthood, it can be easy to forget to rely on them. After all, we probably didn't have any when we were in high school. It's often said that people sometimes handle trauma by holding onto that child they once were. We need to face our trauma and call out women like Cardi B, who are just as influenced by the homophobia of hip hop culture as the men are.
Azealia Banks is one of the few times we don't let it go in one ear and out the other. She has been called out for her homophobia, because she isn't so subtle in expressing it. Wendy Williams apologized after she ranted on her show, telling gay men to "stop wearing our skirts and heels." Williams' homophobia seemed to come from the same place Cardi B's did. They felt the need to blame gay men for a problem in their life.
This is one of the many ways homophobia manifests itself. Many forms of hate manifest themselves this way. This is true of racism, antisemitism, xenophobia, transphobia, sexism, etc. It's just more difficult to spot when the group being targeted seems to be higher on the privilege scale. This is most likely why Cardi specifically referred to "white twinks" in her Twitter rant. If you can mask your hate as standing up to an oppressive force, it's easier to get away with.
Banks and Williams may have received more of a backlash, but their gay fans remained loyal to them. Not that they shouldn't be. I don't believe in deplatforming people, because I don't think it accomplishes much at the end of the day. People will remain hateful and possibly even grow more hateful. However, the backlash they receive is no where near as severe and this is due to our internalized trauma from childhood.
Another reason is due to internalized homophobia. I can't tell you how many responses I've seen to Cardi's tweets that said, "She didn't lie." When one of our main pop girls says something homophobic, it reinforces self-hatred in certain gay people. That's why you see so many of our own saying that twinks are the worst kind of gay people. You see them saying that twinks have the worst attitudes and personalities. It gives permission for the self-hatred to spread. This spreads through sweeping generalizations.
We've been conditioned to think this is okay. It's not okay at all.
We need to evolve past our own internalized homophobia. We must face our fears from childhood and call out homophobia when it comes from anyone. We can't look the other way and apply double standards to something as serious as this. If we allow certain subtle forms of homophobia to slip through the cracks, it won't lead to anything good. It will just lead to a more digestible form of homophobia that every bigot will soon adopt.
We need to call it out and it needs to stop.