Gags, Shades, and Reads of Reality TV

On this week’s episode of Old Black Girls Gone Wild aka Real Housewives of Atlanta(RHOA), original housewife NeNe Leakes allegedly used several derogatory words in her confessional  describing co-star/blacktress Kenya Moore’s assistant and “good Judy,” Brandon DeShazer. In her confessional, NeNe described Brandon as “the Queen in the red gown” and “girlfriend,” in her reaction to the Jerry Springer-like brawl on a previous episode of RHOA, sparking an uproar on social media accusing NeNe of gay bashing and challenging Brandon’s masculinity because he is gay.

Of course, Kenya Moore added her two cents(or twirls) by stating that she was appalled and outraged by how NeNe was gay bashing Brandon. “I was really disgusted by that. It was disgusting to watch someone that’s built her entire career off of copying gay men’s lingo… for her to make defamatory and humiliating remarks. I think it was uncalled for and it’s no place to gay bash,” states Kenya on Sunday’s episode of Watch What Happen’s Live. Mind you this is the same Kenya Moore who performed at a Black Gay Pride event in Washington, DC last May and was booed off the stage after calling the crowd “queens.” Now twirl on that.

Since RHOA‘s debut, NeNe has become the prototype of every black woman over the age of  35 on Reality TV.: becoming a gay icon by using popular gay slang like, “shade”, “read”, and “get yo life,” incorrectly or over exaggerating the mannerisms of  stereotypical gay man. See Tamar Braxton. See the cast of the now canceled show, Married to Medicine, and both casts of R&B Divas. Let’s not forget Bevy Smith on Fashion Queens. In my mind, these caricatures not only lack authenticity but also comes across a way to treat gay men as their entertainment, not as an ally.

As a gay man, I was not offended by NeNe’s use of the term “queen” for two reasons. Reason number one, if you want to know a person’s  true feelings about you, make them upset. Remember that episode of RHOA when professional stunt queen Marlo Hampton accused former cast member/master delusionist Sheree’ Whitfield of hanging out with “ugly faggots.”  Marlo, at the time, was “friends” with celebrity hairstylist and fashion queen Miss Lawrence and had an entourage of gays with her everywhere she goes. Marlo’s excuse for using the word was that she was upset at the time, but she’s not homophobic. My point is gay men become a much needed accessory for any black woman on Reality TV to become the show’s standout. You become their stylist, their hair dresser, their purse, their personal assistant, etc. Basically the Help.  You might as well give them the speech: You are special, you are kind, you are beautiful and hand them a Minnie pie.

The second reason why I didn’t take offense to the term because somewhere down the line, a gay told NeNe (and women like NeNe) it was okay to use the term “queen” or taught them the lingo so the gay will be accepted in the mainstream. As gay men, we have to stop seeking validation from pseudo-celebs who fifteen minutes of fame are slowly dwindling down. Also, we have stop gay-bashing each other. The same gays who are upset at NeNe are the same gays use the terms “queen” and “faggot” regularly to describe another gay man.

The real tea on Reality TV is drama and controversy brings in ratings. Despite the gay slur, I’m sure the gays will continue to support their favorite black reality star and “live” for the reads on RHOA like I’m living for this gif of Cynthia Bailey.

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