Dear Black People: Can Someone Please Tell Me What The "Gay Agenda" Is?


The first season of Empire concluded Wednesday night. Which means I went the entire season of Empire without watching one minute of Empire. There's really no specific reason why. I'm not boycotting Wet Wipes Howard and it's not like my Wednesdays are so busy that I couldn't watch if I wanted to. It just belongs to the same category as Breaking Bad and The Game of Thrones — shows I know I'll enjoy that I just haven't actually watched yet.


Still, I've heard and read enough about it that I'm aware of the main characters and the main storylines. I'm aware that at least one very prominent character is gay. I'm aware that the show hasn't been particularly shy about depicting gay romance. And I'm aware Lee Daniels, one of the show's creators, is gay. I've been made aware of these facts through the usual channels — show recaps, news articles, blogs, interviews, Twitter, etc — but there's another group of people that seem to be disproportionately invested in both Empire's gay characters/plotlines and letting everyone know about Empire's gay characters/plotlines.

You know who they are. Because they are your cousins. (Not my cousins. My cousins are the shit. These are your cousins.) They're on your Facebook page. Or at your barbershop. Or sitting next to you on the train to work. At first glance, they seem like normal people. They have jobs, they wear blue shirts, and they even own blenders. But then, something will put a battery in their backs. A kid with jeans a bit too skinny for their liking. A news story about same-sex marriage. A scene on a popular show where a gay character eats an apple. And then their feelings about the "gay agenda" will come out.

The "gay agenda" is everywhere, they'll say. It's all over Hollywood; it has completely permeated politics; and, if we're not careful, the "gay agenda" is going to be in our homes. Because, apparently, the "gay agenda" is no different than bed bugs. Or the $4 green moscato someone brought to your game night five months ago that you still refuse to open because it's $4 green moscato. But don't throw away because that would be rude.

But while they're convinced of the existence of this pervasive agenda of gayness, no one quite seems to be able to articulate what the "gay agenda" actually is. To their credit, maybe there is a "gay agenda." Maybe gay people hold monthly meetings at Max & Erma's to review the minutes from the previous meetings, discuss and debate new ways to strengthen and implement their agenda, induct new members, and eat fresh sugar cookies. Because what's a meeting without fresh sugar cookies? But I doubt that. That just seems too time-consuming. And I since I doubt the existence of monthly national gay membership meetings at Max & Erma's, I doubt that people infatuated with the concept of a "gay agenda" have any idea what the fuck they're talking about. Because you can't get your hands on the minutes of a meeting that never actually happened. And, since they don't know what the fuck they're talking about, this "gay agenda" is all in their heads; an apparition; a theory of what they think is going to happen to them if gay people continue to be allowed to leave the house and do gay shit like walk dogs and buy hiking equipment and produce TV shows and breathe air.

Maybe they think the goal of the "gay agenda" is to make everyone gay. Or that gayness is so powerful, so addictive, that watching Jussie Smollet hug a man will affect them by osmosis, convincing them to buy a Subaru and start liking Judy Garland a whole lot more than they ever wished to. Who knows? I just have questions. And I want someone with expert knowledge of this gay agenda — and by "someone with expert knowledge of this gay agenda" I mean "one of your cousins" — to answer them.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



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