When I wake up in the morning, I have a pretty standard routine. I get dressed, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, and check my YouTube subscriptions. As I scrolled through my YouTube subscriptions last week, I came across a video from Wendy Williams. It was cryptically titled "A Message From Wendy."
At first, I thought she may be taking an extended break from her show. She's had health issues in the past, so I figured they were coming back. But that wasn't the case. As I watched the clip, I realized this was an apology video. She was apologizing to the LGBTQ community. I missed the previous episode, so I wasn't sure what she was referring to.
On the previous episode, Williams made comments about gay men when discussing "Galentine's Day," an offshoot of Valentine's Day where women just celebrate each other. Williams was apparently not too pleased to see some men clapping in the audience. She said men shouldn't be celebrating it even if they're gay. She went on to say it offends her that men don't have a menstrual cycle. She concluded her rant by telling gay men to "stop wearing our skirts and heels."
The idea any gay man would want to be included in such a dumb and pointless holiday is beside the point. Williams' reaction brought the homophobia some straight women feel to the surface. While I'm not a fan of cancel culture, I feel it's important to note this isn't Williams' first time being insensitive to the LGBTQ community.
When Williams was a radio personality, she routinely participated in speculation regarding rumors of certain rappers' homosexuality, thus encouraging the "no homo" attitude that existed in hip hop culture, whether intentional or not. She also turned away drag queens from being in the audience of her talk show, sparking backlash from the drag community.
Again, I'm not encouraging people to cancel Wendy Williams. However, I was happy to see that many gay men were openly outraged by her comments. I've seen the kind of homophobia Williams exhibited in certain women before. In the past, many gay men have just shrugged this off and given it a pass.
Many gay men feel a closeness to women. For many of us, it dates as far back as childhood. Whether closeted or not, we were often the targets of straight male bullies. The bullying often centered around the fact that we weren't masculine enough. We weren't the same as other boys. We weren't good at sports. I still remember the other boys acting like it was the end of the world if I made a mistake in gym class.
Due to this toxic masculinity that surrounded us, we found comfort in hanging with the girls. They didn't judge us for our femininity. They didn't bully us over such things because they were the same way. By making friends with girls, we found a safe space. It was a survival tactic, of sorts. This was mainly because we rarely knew other gay kids who were out. When I was growing up, a lunch table full of other gay kids was unfathomable.
However, many gay men seem to miss the fact that straight women can be just as homophobic as straight men.
It just shows itself in a different way. It comes from a different place. Straight men who are homophobic usually operate from a place of toxic masculinity. Straight women who are homophobic usually operate from a place of jealousy and entitlement. (These statements obviously don't apply to all straight men and women.)
From my own experience, I've found that homophobic straight women have a real jealousy toward gay men. In the heterosexual world, there are still so many gender roles people are expected to abide by. Many women feel they can't have the same kind of fun that gay men can have without being labeled a "slut." A lot of them feel like there is an unfair double standard that favors straight men, even though the term "fuckboy" has gained a lot of traction lately.
This is one reason I feel some straight women are jealous of gay men. I also think there is a sense of entitlement many straight women have over gay men. Many of them are more than happy to take us shopping. We are carried around like their handbags. We are expected to raise their spirits and boost their self-esteem. However, the minute we start to have lives of our own, it's an inconvenience.
I also find it interesting how Williams complains about gay men not letting women have something for themselves. The fact of the matter is, gay men invite and involve women in nearly every aspect of gay culture. We adore and idolize female pop singers. We throw enormous amounts of money at them buying albums, merchandise, and concert tickers. We design women's clothes and do their hair. We also bring our female friends to our favorite gay clubs.
However, that sense of entitlement can take over sometimes. Plenty of gay men feel irritated about this and claim lots of women act like they own the place. There have been lots of gay men who say they've been sexually harassed by women in gay bars.
Again, I'm not saying this applies to all women. I think women should be welcome in gay bars. Most women don't sexually harass gay men. Most women treat their gay friends like people and not accessories.
I'm also not saying there aren't plenty of gay men who are guilty of the things I've mentioned above. There are also lots of gay men who are guilty of sexual harassment. However, I want to focus on the straight women who don't treat gay men with respect.
I personally believe due to our childhood experiences, we as gay men look past a lot of these behaviors in straight women. It's somehow seen as less threatening. It's a form of homophobia that a lot of gay men seem to just accept. We've internalized this false notion that straight women are the only allies we have. We think this is just something that comes with the territory.
But that's absolutely not the case. We need to call out any and all forms of homophobia. We can't have more leniency with one group when they exhibit these behaviors. We can't act like straight women are exempt from consequences. They are all individuals and we shouldn't think a group is inherently bad or good. Plenty of straight women are true allies and don't exhibit any of these behaviors. I've been fortunate to have made friends with many of them.
I hope Wendy Williams learns and grows from this backlash. While it certainly looked like her apology was standard damage control, hopefully, she grows with time. Cancel culture will get us nowhere. What we need to do is educate people. Even if it doesn't change the person in question, it will teach others and cause a snowball effect. Greater evolution and social progress should be the ultimate goal.