Our Weird-Ass Relationship With Paris is Burning

23 Jul

By moving the talk out of Time Magazine’s trolling, these articles have elevated all the talk about white gay men, black gay men, and black femininity.

‘Bye Sierra’: A Slightly Angry Queer Response to the Sierra Mannie Controversy

and

Black Female Survival and the Myth of the White Gay Cultural Savior, or, Dear Anthony — Stop It!

Lots of LGBT history both writers touch on! I’d just like to bring up how pointedly the film Paris is Burning is being brought up, it’s almost like a warning.

Paris is burning! Paris is BURNING!

If you haven’t seen the film go watch it. It’s on netflix.

It’s an alienating being latino and watching latino drag queens and faeries, many who were poor and HIV positive, as they talk about their families abandoning them. It’s evident from the film that the ballroom scene was heaven, a place where they could bring the struggles of daily life and blow them up. Every stereotype is extravagant, made cartoonish, and regurgitated as defiant protest. Most of our stereotypes come from poor people co-mingling like that.

It’s also nearly impossible to talk about being poor when you are no longer poor because something about you lifted you out of poverty and that is that you–in some ways–passed. Anti-poverty activists who used to be poor now have twitter accounts and smiling avis with well informed statistics and articles, but we can’t deny that we were lifted out of poverty by folks who looked at us and said “you know what? You’re alright.”

The people in Paris In Burning are those who didn’t get a pass (mostly, I think Willi Ninja did well for himself). When we are writing about the way people behave, or should behave, or how they should refer to themselves (or not refer to themselves), we brush uncomfortably close to the power differential we have over the poor. That is, people who write thinkpieces, who are paid salaries, who have healthcare, who have people who can prevent us from falling into financial ruin, all of us move closer to condeming bad behavior of the poor the longer class differences go unaddressed.

That is the weird relationship this whole issue has brought up, the relationship to Paris is Burning is one of negative space, of distance. The brown skinned people in the movie look like me but their culture is foreign, and yet, I feel a need to defend them.

 

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