I’ve never been one to avoid examining and discussing topics that are taboo.
In fact, I like lifting up rocks; exposing things that remain hidden. Because even though they may be hidden, the tension of these things is still so evident. So why not just bring them out and look at them?
Last week I had a very open and honest conversation with two black women on the topic of prejudice; specifically inner prejudice. And what I mean by inner prejudice is a prejudice from the same race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
It was interesting to hear how both these women said that a great percentage of the prejudice they've experienced was from within the black community - such as dating or marrying outside their own race, or darker blacks having a prejudice towards lighter blacks.
And after they shared this, I had to admit that I know many people in the white community who hold the same inner prejudice towards other whites who date or marrying outside their own race.
I was also reminded of how a dear friend of mine who is Spanish shared with me several times, that the gist of prejudice she experienced was from within the Spanish community - such as Cubans are a higher class of Spanish than Puerto Ricans.
And being someone who has many female friends, I've had women tell me that they have experienced a great deal of prejudice from other women.
This got me thinking and feeling about inner prejudice.
I have to say, that as a gay man, I too have experienced a hefty amount of prejudice from other gays; mainly other gay men. And yet, upon having their prejudice directed at me, I immediately copped a prejudice attitude back. So really, I was just as guilty of it as they were.
For those of you who are not gay, allow me to share some of the inner sub-divisional prejudices within the gay community, which I have personally witnessed.
Money and Youth:
Some gay people believe that having money puts them on a higher level of equality; making them more acceptable to the world. Therefore, they disassociate themselves from gay people of a lesser class status. Also, youthfulness and appearance are a big thing within much of the gay community. And more so with gay men, than gay women.
Some gay people feel that if they're more straight-acting, they will be more accepted. Meaning that more feminine gay men or more masculine lesbians are an example of what society thinks is stereo-typical, so they don’t choose to associate with other gays unless they are straightish-acting.
Division Between Gay Men and Women:
I have also witnessed a prejudice within homosexual men and lesbians. I can’t tell you how many times in the past I’ve gone into a gay bar or nightclub that was predominantly filled with gay men, where the doorman acted so totally rude if I happened to come in with a woman who was a lesbian. And I’ve experienced this the other way around as well.
So you see, there are inner prejudices within the gay community as well.
But if you closely examine what I just shared, these are some of the same inner prejudices that straights, whites, blacks, men and women, and all cultures have to contend with in their own communities because the prejudice comes from how we all appear to the world.
Now here is where I believe this inner prejudice might stem from.
I think people feel an inner prejudice towards each other because of what society tells us.
Straight is more acceptable than gay; youth is more attractive than age; money means power and acceptance; interracial dating and marriages should not be, because each race should stick with their own. And the list goes on and on.
Therefore, when we look at an interracial couple, or a feminine gay man, or someone youthful versus older, I think we actually feel the prejudice that society has imposed as being unacceptable, and then we judge it and ourselves as well.
And perhaps this is not just the reason for inner prejudice, but prejudice in general.
Yes, society is not easy on any of us, regardless of whether we’re straight or gay, black or white, male or female, tall or short, or thin or heavy. But by buying into and accepting what society tells us, we walk around as mirrors…
…reflecting it back and forth to each other.