ColumnsUnapologetically Trans

The Hart of the Matter

Dear black comedians: homophobic and transphobic jokes aren’t funny.

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Happy New Year, dear readers! My hope and prayer for you is that 2019 is a fabulous year for you, and that you are blessed to achieve all your hopes and dreams in the next 12 months.

I have some hopes and dreams I’ll be talking about in my 2019 columns, but first let’s get to some unfinished business from 2018.   

I’ve been observing the drama over comedian Kevin Hart stepping away from a chance to host the 2019 Oscars because he dug in his heels and stubbornly refused to apologize for some past homophobic comments.   

Then D.L. Hughley’s problematic butt poured gasoline on the public-relations fire when he tried to defend Hart on Twitter, and ended up making a derogatory comment about Pose actress Indya Moore. 

A joke ceases to be humorous when it causes pain or is insulting to the community you’re trying to make fun of. Our people’s nearly two-century history of combating blackface should tell you that.

And that’s before I even start talking about all the black folks who, in their zeal to defend Kevin Hart, let loose with homophobic and transphobic slurs in comment threads all over the web. 

It’s not that I don’t have a sense of humor. Everyone who spends quality time with me is quite aware that I have a wicked sense of humor. I enjoy going to comedy clubs. I love getting some much-needed laughs by watching comedians onstage and in their movies.  

To me, the best comedians are people who can make you laugh without resorting to jokes that viciously demean people. That requires skill.  

Where I draw the line is when “jokes” are demeaning or hurtful to my community. You will get your wig snatched by me for that. 

Let me say this loudly, for all you people in the back: anti-TBLGQ rhetoric has ramped up, and hate crimes have been on the rise ever since this malignant presidential misadministration assumed power. 

Demeaning transphobic and homophobic jokes aren’t funny, and cisgender heterosexual people don’t get to tell me or anyone in the TBLGQ world what should or shouldn’t offend us. 

Cisgender heterosexual people also don’t get to decide if an apology is sincere and should be accepted by the offended party. We make that determination.

We currently have an administration chock-full of people who are being advised by the longtime professional haters at the Family Research Council and other anti-TBLGQ groups.

They are rolling back policies we fought hard to get, while pushing for new anti-gay and anti-trans policies.  

Words matter. In this current political environment, you can understand why the TBLGQ world has an aversion to and zero tolerance for anti-TBLGQ jokes. These jokes not only reinforce stereotypes, bigotry, and hatred, but also lead to people in our community getting harmed. Witness the 24 trans people murdered in 2018 (as of this writing), and the others who have survived anti-trans hate attacks.  

Witness the black gay couple ambushed at their Las Vegas home on November 29, with none of their neighbors coming to their aid.

Witness, one day later, a 20-year-old lesbian who suffered a fractured spine by a man who sucker-punched her while yelling anti-gay slurs after she kissed her girlfriend on a New York City subway.

Black comedians who tell transphobic and homophobic jokes like Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart, D.L. Hughley, and Lil Duval have contributed to a toxicity that leads to violence being perpetrated against our community.   

A joke is not “‘just a joke,” D.L. Hughley. A joke ceases to be humorous when it causes pain or is insulting to the community you’re trying to make fun of. Our people’s nearly two-century history of combating blackface should tell you that. 

Speaking of community, the reason that many black TBLGQ folks are pissed about the Hart mess is that it’s past time for the African-American community to have an honest discussion about transphobia and homophobia. 

This discussion needs to leave a few things at the door that we hear far too often online, including misinterpretations of biblical scripture and fact-free anti-trans and anti-gay commentary. 

Hate thoughts plus hate speech equals hate crimes and hate murders. These homophobic and transphobic “jokes” only serve to normalize anti-TBLGQ hatred and grease the skids for these crimes to be perpetrated against our community. 

On top of that, they aren’t funny. 

This article appears in the January 2018 edition of OutSmart magazine. 

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Monica Roberts

Monica Roberts, a native Houstonian, is the founding editor of the GLAAD award-winning blog TransGriot. Her ongoing mission is to educate people on the lives of transgender people and fight for everyone’s human rights.

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