I was watching Scandal
the other week when Cyrus said this:
I wasn't made to be the Chief of Staff. Do you know what I was made to be? I was made to be the President of the United States. I was made to lead the nation. I was made to ensure this country's place in the world for generations to come. I would've been great at that. I have the stones. I have backbone. I have the will. I would have been a great President. But guess what, I'm fairly short, and I'm not so pretty, and I really like having sex with men, so instead of being President of this land, that I love, I get to be the guy behind the President of the United States, and sure I have power. I influence decisions. I help steer the country. But I'll never be in the history books. My name will never be on an airport or a doctrine. Being the guy behind the guy is as far as my road goes.
My first reaction was complete disdain. Cry more, you big baby.
Typical white dude, obsessed with his status rather than getting shit done.
Then I asked myself: What if he were a black man? Or a woman? How would I feel about it then? And I realized that I would be much more sympathetic to his speech if he had been anything other than a white dude.
This is not to say that Cyrus' struggles as a rich, white gay male are equal to other marginalized groups. Cyrus benefits enormously from white male privilege, even as a gay man.
I guess what I found most interesting about my reaction, and my subsequent questioning of that reaction, is how I basically picked & chose which of Cyrus' identities mattered and which didn't. In that moment, for me, Cyrus' whiteness and maleness negated his queerness. His privilege in one area invalidated his marginalization in another.
It's something I'm still chewing over.