Straight White Cisgender Men Make the Cover of LGBTQ Magazines More Than People of Color
In an interview with Fusion, queer black rapper Mykki Blanco dove a bit deeper into the recent Twitter conversation about #GayMediaSoWhite.
"When Vogue and Vanity Fair are more progressive than your gay magazine, that's a huge problem," Blanco told Fusion.
Though racism in the gay community is a decadeslong, ongoing conversation, the internet is still reeling from the #GayMediaSoWhite conversation Blanco sparked with just a few tweets on March 28, calling out gay media for prioritizing white men over men of color.
Fusion analyzed how many of the cover models of prominent gay-marketed magazines — Out, Attitude and the Advocate — over the past five years were LGBTQ white people, LGBTQ people of color or white straight cisgender men.
It turns out, almost unsurprisingly, that 40% of all the covers went to straight, white, cisgender men. According to the analysis, 35% of the covers were LGBTQ white people and then 9% were LGBTQ people of color.
"This unchecked level of privilege and white supremacy literally destroys people," Blanco said to Fusion. "I've seen people of color suffer from self-esteem issues because they're not the right color or they're not the right size... This [is] really hurtful, toxic shit."
Blanco added that Attitude, one of the magazines profiled, follows a "Grindr aesthetic," but that the real stinger of the #GayMediaSoWhite conversation is the data around Out and the Advocate, who Blanco said are "definitive" LGBTQ voices.
And the discrimination doesn't stop at race, either, according to Blanco. "Even a feminine white gay man couldn't make an Out cover. Even the Carson Kressleys of the world won't get an Out cover."
Attitude magazine, which featured cis white straight men on 55% of its covers, was the worst offender.
Cover models for Out magazine in the past five years were white 85% of the time — this percentage includes straight and LGBTQ people — and only one queer woman of color had been featured on the cover: Orange Is the New Black's Samira Wiley. Wiley was also one of four models with a cover for the 2014 Out 100 issue, which means the magazine did not feature Wiley exclusively. Out featured only one trans woman, model Andreja Pejic, on its cover in the past five years.
The Advocate featured more LGBTQ people of color than straight white men — 23% vs. 17%. However, that percentage includes four LGBTQ people of color who shared the cover of the 2013 "Black, LGBT and American" issue: Janet Mock, Wade Davis, Twiggy Pucci Garcon and Wanda Sykes.
Neither Advocate, Out nor Attitude responded to Fusion's requests for comment.
Blanco said that the message behind these magazine covers is clear: "[People like me are] literally not a part of their world. Not a part of their conversation. Not a part of their society."
However, according to Blanco, the underlying issue of racism in the gay community will persist after the hashtag fades. "[The underlying issue is] still going to exist in gay bars in Texas or Boston that don't want black or Latino people as patrons. [It's still going to exist at] gay franchises that only hire, you know, white go-go dancers or muscle-y white bartenders... [It's still going to exist] so long as white gay men exist in this bubble of 'Don't touch me, don't look at me.'"
"These realities are not just rallying points for college student groups," Blanco said.
She added, "I mean, Anna Wintour's more down for the cause than you are."