By: Alex Temblador
Those that grow up as members of the LGBT community in the United States have faced discrimination, whether it be the denial of certain rights because of a lack in equal rights laws or from homophobic or trans-phobic individuals and their actions or words. So as a member of the LGBT community, a highly discriminated group, can you, in turn, be a discriminator? The answer is yes, according to Matthew J. Dempsey, a YouTuber and psychotherapist whose vlogs tend to focus on the gay male community experience. In his most recent YouTube video, Dempsey tackles the issue of racism in the world and how individuals, especially those in the LGBT community, can do their part in erasing racism from the world.
His vlog, “I’m Gay, White, & Racist,” has already garnered over 33K views. The summary section of the video provides a little insight to the title: “Growing up gay and feeling like an outlier for most of my life easily lends itself to greater empathy for others who’ve felt the same. My experience also lends itself to the illusion that I couldn’t possibly continue discriminating against others, including people of color.”
Dempsey began with: “One of the things that I really appreciate about being gay is that I’ve got this insight into what it’s like to be discriminated against.”
“The thing that I like about it is that it actually helps me relate to and understand so many more people discriminated against for a whole number of reasons.”
However Dempsey says that just because he understands discrimination, doesn’t mean he can’t or hasn’t ever discriminated against someone else.
Dempsey shares a personal story in which he said a racist comment within a group of African Americans. This is the story: after discovering that he was the only white person invited to a party whose attendees were all black, Dempsey said to the black friend that invited him, “Thomas, I didn’t realize that we were partying in the hood.”
The obviously racist comment made the attendees pause for a moment, but thankfully for Dempsey, they didn’t take offense.
Dempsey quickly explained his racist comment to his viewers: “It was so unintentional…I can easily feel like I’ve got a hall pass being gay to totally understand discrimination and I can make those kind of jokes. The reality is that I can’t. Especially if it’s going to make anyone else feel a little bit different and feel a little bit down in some way. Then I need to check that.”
“It’s only when I’m able to own that and see that within me that I can actually call it out and I can snuff racism in myself and I can do my part.”
Dempsey’s stand on how to rid the world of racism then—is to recognize it within yourself and become self-aware of the things you say, how you say them, and who you say them to.
“As a gay man, I have a real value set in wanting to be able to eradicate discrimination across the board and the only way that I know that I can really do that the most effectively is by being able to check in with myself.”
Dempsey said that even though he is gay and knows how it feels to be discriminated against, he also has been affected by racist attitudes and sentiments by growing up as a white person in his community: “As a white person, I’m going to have certain racist beliefs because I grew up in a racist society. It’s only when I’m able to call that out, just own it and be honest about it…so that I can then quell any tendencies of discriminating.”
Probably one of the most interesting aspects of the video is when he brings up examples of racism within the LGBT community. His first example is of the white-washing of the upcoming film, Stonewall, and how the directors have chosen to focus on a fictional white character rather than on the pioneers of that movement, LGBT people of color and the transgender community.
Dempsey also provides other examples, such as how some people fetishize gay men of color, like the stereotypical “dominating and controlling black guy.”
“That is discrimination because then we are having an idea of who somebody should be as opposed to being open to who that individual is.”
He also brings up how some gay white men post, “No Asians” or “No Blacks,” on dating or hook-up apps and how this, too, is a form of discrimination and racism. Dempsey contends that you can have your preferences, but putting such statements in your profile is not right.
Many of the comments on the video were very insightful and thanked him for discussing the topic:
I’m still quite upset sometimes when I see people writing “no Asians” on dating apps. Knowing the fact that I’m not always considered a part of the community just because of my colour and my culture is not something pleasant to experience. –Ollie Chao
In the beginning and middle, my dating world happens to be very white. Which is cool. But the covert racism started to become more overt, that it has started to effect my dating relationship with white men. I don’t experience blatant racism, but I experience the fetishizing all. The. Time. As a biracial person.—KaiserFailed
Thanks for taking on a complex and sometimes difficult discussion. Putting on blinders and declaring racism nonexistent, help no one. By being open helps one to understand their own humanity.—tmz85
Dempsey’s intention for having put out such a blog is that he wants to have an open space to comfortably talk about discrimination and racism. He explains that by being able to recognize subtle forms of racism or discrimination in his own life, it will help him grow, heal, and open up a space for others to do so too. The entire purpose of the vlog then isn’t to point fingers at the gay community or white people or any particular group for not doing more in terms of eradicating racism. As Dempsey explains, we can all do better and be better, but most importantly, we can be allies in eradicating discrimination in ourselves.