OPINION: Identity and Acceptance Collide in LGBTQ News

From Michael B. Jordan to Lilly Wachowski — and yes, Caitlyn Jenner — society proves it’s not ready to accept nuance in identity.

Caitlyn Jenner is now endorsing Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) for president.

Caitlyn Jenner is now endorsing Texas Senator Ted Cruz for president.

Coverage this week of LGBTQ news couldn’t be any more of a headache.

The same tropes of homophobia and transphobia showed their nastier sides on social media and beyond with adverse reactions to the difference in opinions and expressions in Hollywood.

For one, the recent backlash over a photo in Vanity Fair of straight black actor Michael B. Jordan and Creed director Ryan Coogler is an embarrassment to the black community. Social media trolls couldn’t help but question the sexual orientation of the two straight celebrities due to a simple embrace of Jordan holding the back of Coogler’s head in the photo. Are you kidding me? Who would have ever thought that a simple gesture shared between two industry pals would generate such animosity? Such immaturity alone sparked numerous conversations about the cultural fragility of black masculinity and the more visible expressions of homophobia within the community.

Second, news of The Matrix and Sense8 co-director Lilly Wachowski coming out as a transgender woman and the rationale behind why she decided to abruptly make the announcement show how much the media still can sometimes exploit transpeople. In a very witty coming-out letter to Chicago LGBT weekly Windy City Times on Tuesday (her comical headline read “SEX CHANGE SHOCKER — WACHOWSKI BROTHERS NOW SISTERS!!!”), Wachowski said “in response to [a] threatened public outing against my will, I had a prepared a statement that was one part piss, one part vinegar and 12 parts gasoline.” For some time, the media has been accused of attempting to reveal Wachowski’s new identity based on the previous attention her sister director Lana Wachowski got in 2012 while revealing she was transgender. It’s disappointing to see how the recent news coverage of transpeople continues to face a harsher level of exploitation in Hollywood. As trans visibility becomes more acceptable, the media should still be sensitive around those making the choice to publicly come out as transgender on their own time.

And lastly, transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner takes over our headlines again with further controversy surrounding her conservative views. Jenner recently endorsed Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, and the internet didn’t give her a break for it. Further coverage came after she took a jab at Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as one who “couldn’t care less about women” on her reality TV show I Am Cait. Why is the world surprised by her conservative viewpoint all of a sudden? Jenner has a long history of supporting the GOP and the heightened attention couldn’t have come at a better time during this year’s election. I think it’s time we finally just let her live – not all LGBTQ celebrities are going to necessarily reflect the politically progressive ideals that favor the majority of us. And that’s fine — we’re better off spotlighting those who do.