Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Reichen Lehmkuhl: "Stop Worrying About How We're Portrayed to Straight People"

Reichen Lehmkuhl, is a former U.S. Air Force captain and gay rights activist. He is best known  for his participation in the reality programs THE AMAZING RACE and THE A-LIST: NEW YORK. Recently, he was interviewed by AFTERELTON.COM.

Here's an excerpt:
AFTERELTON.COM: I'm sure you're aware, but there's been a lot of criticism from gay folks that the show [The A-List: New York] is sending out this image that gay men are vapid or superficial. I'm curious if you were surprised by that, the reaction. Secondly, how do you respond?

REICHEN LEHMKUHL: I'm not totally surprised by it, because I'm a member of the gay community and we take a lot of things personally. We're a very insecure community about the way that we are portrayed or the way we're thought about by straight people. We've sort of been beholden to the way straight people think about us, and we let that control our community a lot of the time.

I just did a video for my Facebook saying look, it's a television show made for the purpose of entertainment and we're not here to represent the whole gay community — we can only represent seven people in the gay community, and watch it for that. Watch it as a TV show. If you think we're a bad representation of the gay community, it's like, every gay person knows ... we all know the way these seven guys, including myself, act on the show are an accurate representation of the way a lot of gay people act.

For you, as a gay person, to deny that this is a fair representation of the gay community, you're fooling yourself. What you're really trying to say is, you're worried about how we look to straight people. In my video I say this is what we have to stop doing as a community — stop worrying about how we're portrayed to straight people. No matter how we're portrayed, it's how we are.

If every gay guy in America wants to walk around in a dress all day long and sing show tunes and be as stereotypically gay as possible, we still deserve our rights. We still should demand our rights, and we shouldn't be worried that we don't have credibility to demand our rights because straight people look at us differently. We still deserve our rights.

When we start cutting each other down from the inside and say "He's the wrong kind of gay and he's the right kind of gay"... We should start saying "Okay. As a gay person, I accept all people and the way they act in the gay community, even the way they're acting on the A-List because that is a fair representation of the way a lot of gay people act." [If we do this], then we're going to get strong as a community because we're going to say despite how we are, for real, we still deserve our rights anyway. READ MORE

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