I’ve been reevaluating my position on a few things recently and realized three major things I was absolutely wrong* about. I have no doubt this list will grow☺
1.The lack of diversity on my blog from 2006–2012. A couple of years ago, a black reader said something to me on facebook that really set me off. I felt offended and personally attacked, so naturally I reposted it for thousands to see and agree with me☺ Her comment turned into this huge thing where dozens of people were chiming in, mostly in my defense (thanks guys!). But now I see that I may not have deserved all of that unconditional support.
What she was saying in essence is that she didn’t see herself when she read my blog, and that as a black woman, it was my responsibility to highlight women of color. What I *heard* at the time was, “You’re not black enough, you don’t like black women, you’re not doing enough even though you think you’ve tried your best and don’t really owe anyone anything.” I was wrong. I owe you all the world and I can do better.
My response at the time was along the lines of: “When there are more women of color who are openly lgbt, I’ll be able to post them!” I also threw in a little bit of: “Are you attacking my personal attraction? This is not a news site, its an opinion blog, word is BOND, son!” yada yada yada. So my biggest defense was that there weren’t enough black role models to highlight. But thinking back on that, that’s total bullshit! Not only could I have done better research and a better job of highlighting the people available to speak about at the time (though admittedly slim pickens), how many white STRAIGHT women did I post on my blog each and every week?? (I did the math and it was MILLIONS, y’all. MILL...IONS.)
So that’s just tomfoolery on my part. Of course I obviously posted about some black women, as well as Asian, Latin, etc. But it wasn’t enough. I also thought that BEING an out and proud black lesbian was saying a great deal in itself, and while I’ll definitely pat myself on the back for that being a pretty cool thing since I’ve received thousands (yep, thousands) of messages over the years telling me so, it wasn’t enough.
I didn’t do as much as I could have. I didn’t lead by example. I was wrong.
Today I preach about the need for diversity in film/tv-both in front of and behind the scenes—in live music production, and most recently in tech. I admonish those who don’t support diversity initiatives and even go so far as accusing them of being low down lazy cowards. Its what I wake up thinking about, worry about all day, and go to sleep thinking about. I sure was a low down lazy coward back in the day☺
So I wanted to apologize to my readers of color who almost never saw themselves represented in my blog and social media presence as the gorgeous, sexy, valuable, amazing goddesses you all are. I’m sorry if I in any way made it more difficult for you to come out sooner, or to be comfortable with yourselves. I’m not saying that I have some sort of power over that…like I’m some big deal. I’m just saying if there were one or two people that I inadvertently had a negative impact on because I wasn’t evolved enough in my thinking, I am truly sorry for that. I am privileged to have the opportunity to not only try and make up for that now and in the future, but to hopefully tip the scales in a much bigger way.
2. Saying Trayvon Martin was partially to blame for his murder. This one stings. I was of course absolutely GUTTED when he was killed and understood the outrage. But as much of a pie in the sky eater as I am, I have this very stringent and compulsive need for logic…for things to make sense to me. (I’ll one day write a separate post about the interesting correlation between Asperger’s and atheism) Sometimes I alienate people I care about with that obsessive need. So in this case, I looked at the evidence and I thought well, if he fought this dude on the ground and was laying punches and the dude thought he might die, it could have been self defense. That’s reasonable doubt, right? And then…I tweeted that crap out into the world and stood my own ground…of stupidity. That was some IGNORANT thinking. Again, best intentions, truly thought I was being fair to others and true to myself, but—say it with me—I was WRONG.
I could spend hours talking about this, but I’ll just put it like this: The way I talked about Trayvon back in the day is how some peops are talking about Mike Brown today, and it makes me sick to my stomach. I apologize. I was on the wrong side of history. I’m ecstatic to know better now.
3. Being angry at Latifah for not coming out. OK here’s the thing: I think Queen Latifah is gay. And when I say “think,” I mean “know it deeeep in my heart.” And I’ve long been vocal—whether online or to the person at the next table at Starbucks—about how upsetting it is to me that she doesn’t come out. To be clear, the thing about this that upsets and concerns about is her going as far as DENYING it. It’s one thing not to answer, but a few years back she denied it in 2 different publications.
I’ve seen Latifah out and about in West Hollywood, and looking more Cleo than Dana in some other in-person situations. I’ve seen the pics, I believe what I believe, right. I’ve also been super out, loud, and proud for years, sometimes putting myself in physical danger by doing so. I would die for the cause. And some have. You know when I see teenagers hanging themselves because they’re ashamed of being gay, and I know that every high profile person who comes out makes it easier for countless others who are hurting, ashamed, and depressed, I want more high profile people to come out. Simple. When I see Ellen Page do it so bravely, I want others to.
But here’s the thing: *spoiler alert!* It’s not about me or what I want. *gasp!*
A couple of months ago, I was going off about Latifah to a new friend, and they said something like, “What if she’s worried about what her mother would think?” And that one sentence stopped me in my tracks and truly touched me. It opened my eyes to the fact that I don’t know her journey. I’m as silly as someone opining about what the Kardashians might be thinking at any given moment. I’ve been mad at her for not stepping up to plate, for being what I considered a “coward” by denying it. But would I say the same—and so publicly—about ANY reader of mine who wrote in to me privately with the same issue?? I never have and I never will.
So again, I was wrong.
If she’s indeed gay or bi or pan or even worse, Republican (yikes!), and she hasn’t come out yet for whatever reason she chooses (she’s scared, she doesn’t want to hurt family members, her family is cool with it and she doesn’t believe her personal life should be any of our business, etc), I should be wrapping her in the same love, protection, and empathy I have for all of those other people I described above. She’s human. She’s beautiful, intelligent, talented, successful…and brave. I’m proud of her and I admire her.
She said this earlier this year: “It’s easier not to even discuss it. I really haven’t tried to share that side of my life with everyone because I felt like I was sharing so much of my life with the public. I don’t have to share everything that’s going on in my bedroom. That’s not anybody’s business. It’s not like I’m a hermit under a rock. I live my life. I know who I am and who I’m not. I’m comfortable with myself. Those who need to know, know. They know me.”
I apologize for yelling into the wind at her, when I should have been supporting her as a black woman who may or may not be lgbt. And I’m sorry again for setting the wrong example with those actions.
Thanks for reading and for sticking up for me through thick and thin…and letting me be wrong sometimes☺
- disclaimer: I am right about EVERYTHING ELSE;)
I’m the founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital, a seed investment fund that backs high-potential, underrepresented startup founders. I am also a tour manager, currently working with New Zealand Music Award winner Janine & the Mixtape. Not braggin’, but I have been called the “Lebron James” of venture capital (by my brother).
For interviews or to set up one-on-one “office hour” sessions at your event, email ARLANhamilton@gmail.com with the subject “interview request,” or “conference appearance request,” etc.