I am a loyal Bravo watcher. I am a reality television connoisseur and devour my shows in bulk whenever my schedule permits. I am one of your people, which is why I am sad to write this letter to you.
I know, too well, the criticism of the unscripted genre, having been a small part of it. I also know that I could be writing this note to challenge stereotypes of women, relationships, values, and perceptions of wealth and success. But I’ll save that for another day. Today, I write on behalf of LGBTQ allyship.
I’m getting tired of the blatant homophobia being masked as silly gossip or a humorous crutch in some of the franchises, most recently, 'Vanderpump Rules' and the 'Real Housewives of Atlanta.'
Here’s the deal: I’m getting tired (really tired) of the blatant homophobia being masked as silly gossip or a humorous crutch in some of the franchises, most recently, “Vanderpump Rules” and the “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” I know, Andy, you called it out at last year’s RHOA reunion. Unfortunately, it seems that some of the casts still haven’t gotten the message.
Last month on “Vanderpump Rules,” Jax Taylor’s sexual past and what (and who) it may or may not include became fodder for gossip and speculation yet again. That Brittany Cartwright’s mother had a visceral (and painfully visible) reaction to the idea that her daughter’s boyfriend may have had a same sex experience shows that not only is a potential bisexual past a real issue, but it remains a joke (albeit an unintentional one) throughout the series.
This past month (in screen time as opposed to real life) on RHOA, viewers watched accusations being hurled about Kandi Burress’ sexuality. These are infuriating not simply because of the vicious tone of the verbal attacks, but also because it is clear that they are rich with hypocrisy. Consenting adults are entitled to do whatever they want sexually and no one has the right to label who someone else is. We define ourselves and there is no singular way for a human being to live, love, or express themselves. But that intellectual argument aside, it’s also the tone that Porsha Williams (and some of the other women) use when they say “lesbian,” (as if it’s a bad thing) that really does it for me.
Words count just as much as action. And many of the words we are hearing these days are ugly and judgmental.
None of us want to consider that the people who come into our homes through our screens may be homophobes, but… well, hanging out with some fabulous queens who style you and do your makeup doesn’t make you a supportive ally. Words count just as much as action. And many of the words we are hearing these days are ugly and judgmental.
Lately, I feel I uncomfortable watching many of the shows I consume. Admittedly, some of these concerns are not exactly new, but in light of what is going on in our country with respect to LGBTQ rights, we need to do better. Most important, we need to hold public figures (from politicians to reality stars) accountable. By the way, I recognize that I am a white woman in a heterosexual relationship with a certain amount of privilege stating these concerns. And sure, some people may call me a snowflake. Truth is, I really don’t care. I stand by my words.
Thanks for listening. Call me if you want to talk.
This piece was originally published on Medium.