The Real Housewives of Atlanta used to be my go-to reality show and, as an over the top fan, I’ve seen every season. However, I’ve noticed a recurring and damaging pattern in the shows rhetoric. All fabulous ladies of Atlanta have a “gay best friend” – but whatever happened to just being a “best friend”?
The housewives of Atlanta are known for parading gay men around like accessories. Shereé, NeNe, Kenya and others have gotten in trouble in the past for offensive things they have said involving LGBTQ offensive language. For a group of women who claim to “love the gays”, I can’t help but call them out on how they can’t just “love the gays.” They also need to respect the LGBTQ community and refrain from using certain words and phrases.
A show like RHOA should be inclusive. Everyone should be able to watch, without feeling like a harmful stereotype is being perpetuated against them. During the last session, NeNe hosted a party called “Gurls & Gays’ White Party.” She told her friends to bring a gay friend. In no way do I think Nene meant any harm from the party, but the language used is indeed harmful. “Bring a gay” implies that members of the gay community are objects, almost like a bag or a pet that can be toted around. This fetishized language, which wrongly labels members of the gay community, must cease. Instead of saying “bring a gay” why not say “I want all of my LGBTQ friends to attend” or “bring an LGBTQ date”?
This language may seem harmless, but it is not. Kenya Moore made a comment towards Kim Biermann questioning, “didn’t they cut it off during your gender reassignment surgery?” and here we are again. Using the same rhetoric used to shame others by implying they are trans. This is the same attitude from Kenya and other women that tried to shame Kim Fields and her husband saying that he was “gay.” Implying that being gay is an insult is both morally wrong and oppressive.
In another instance, some of the ladies have accused Kandi Burruss of being “in the closet.” Again, this is often stated with disgust or a shaming tone. This is not only categorically wrong, but harmful. By perpetuating this harmful rhetoric, they are normalising it. This can cause people to believe that this toxic language is acceptable.
Importantly, people are more than their sexuality. They are individuals and they need to be treated as such. Nobody introduces their straight friends as straight, so stop bringing attention to everyone’s sexuality in order to improve your own image. The LGBTQ community deserves more respect than the Housewives afford them and I believe it all starts with the language they use. These women have a platform of over 2.59 million viewers per Sunday, which means the language they use has an impact on their viewers. A slight change in language could turn their platform into something positive and it’s well past the time to take that step.
Written by Taylor Christian