John M. Becker

Rocker: Blacks, But Not Gays, Can Take Offense at Slurs

Filed By John M. Becker | January 21, 2015 3:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: All That Remains, faggot, homophobia, homophobic slurs, Phil Labonte, racism

phil-labonte-b&w.jpgAnd now, in the latest example of self-proclaimed celebrity "supporters" of LGBT rights saying stupid, bigoted shit...

Phil Labonte, lead vocalist for the popular metal band All That Remains, implied in a recent interview with Revolver magazine that African Americans have a right to be offended by slurs, but gay people do not.

According to ThePRP, the interviewer asked Labonte to talk about the first time he said or did something that really offended people. This is how Labonte replied:

"In 2005, on the Sounds Of The Underground DVD I said, "PC is for faggots." That was the first time people went, "Whoa, what did he say?" I have nothing against gay people. It's just a word. Honestly, I think the only people that have a legit grievance when it comes to any racial slurs is the black community. I know the homosexual community has problems with it and I understand their hurt feelings.

But homosexuals were never property. They've had a rough time and I'm not trying to minimize that, but I think the black community has a whole lot more room to be upset about a word than the LGBT community. It's one thing to say, "This guy said something and it hurt my feelings and it bummed me out and it sucks." Okay, that's a good perspective. But I don't know that you need a whole social movement.

When it comes to the shit that black people have gone through I think it's okay to be like, "Well you know, that was seriously fucked up." We need to do something about this."

Oy. We'll untangle this one after the break.

First of all, sexual orientation and race are two completely different things. Yes, they're both intrinsic characteristics (you can't choose your sexuality any more than you can choose your skin color) and they're both characteristics that many people use to divide and discriminate against each other, but they're not the same. And they aren't mutually exclusive -- LGBT people are found in all racial (and ethnic, cultural, and religious) communities. So I can guarantee you there were gay men on those slave ships, thank you very much.

Second, this is not the Oppression Olympics. Both African Americans and LGBT people have suffered tremendously throughout history, and the hate and discrimination members of both groups face continues to this day. Gays may not have been enslaved en made in this country, but we have been imprisoned, castrated, persecuted by religions and governments, lobotomized, queer-bashed, raped, forced into damaging 'pray-away-the-gay' therapy, and murdered.

The insinuation that gays haven't earned the right to be offended by hateful words because our ancestors weren't all hauled here in chains is one of the most disgustingly offensive things I've read in a long time. (By that "logic," American Jews, women, and Latinos don't have the right to be offended by anti-Semitism, misogyny, or racism either. Still want to go there?)

phil-labonte-2.jpgThird, Phil honey, you're a straight white man. It's not your place to tell members of any oppressed group what hateful slurs they do and do not have a right to be offended by, or to opine about when their grievances are "legit" and when and where they have "room to be upset."

Hate speech hurts just as much -- and is just as hateful -- whether it's being spewed at someone because of their race or because of their sexual orientation. And frankly, until you've walked a mile in my shoes and know what it's like to be in situations where hearing the word "faggot" causes you to literally fear for your life, you can just shut your damn mouth.

By the way, the 2005 incident Labonte referred to in his Revolver interview isn't the only time he's jumped into the cesspool of homophobia: in October 2011, he called a rival singer a "faggot" in a posting on his Facebook page.

The slur sparked a cascade of negative criticism, but Labonte defended himself, saying that he can't be a homophobe because he totally has gay friends and "back[s] gay rights 100%."

Newsflash, dude: you can say you "support gay rights" until you're blue in the face, but that doesn't give you a free pass to use anti-gay slurs. And if those words of support are uttered alongside words of hate, your "support" doesn't mean a thing.

P.S. GLAAD -- the LGBT group that's supposed to speak out against homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic defamation in the media -- has been disturbingly silent about Billy Crystal's recent anti-gay remarks. I wonder if the trend will continue in this case, or if the group will find its voice and condemn Labonte for his hateful words? (And before you, dear reader, respond with "who cares?," consider that Labonte's band has almost two million followers on Facebook. That's why we need to care.)

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