the real housewives of atlanta

The cast of The Real Housewives of Atlanta

For a show that likes to parade itself as gay friendly, this entire season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta has been an exhaustive exercise in casual homophobia. Of course, the minute you throw out a term like “homophobia,” the guilty parties will be quick to shout, “I’m not homophobic! I have plenty of gay friends.” But, homophobia, like any prejudice, has levels to the s*it.

In the same way that racism isn’t solely determined by whether or not one hangs up nooses, shouts “Sieg heil!” in secret, or dons Blackface, one doesn’t have to call a gay person a faggot to know that not-so-deep down, there’s some level of intolerance inside of you. One thing that’s been clear about this show all season long is that in terms of weaponry, one’s sexual orientation is just another easy tool to pull out when trying to inflict pain.

See Porsha Stewart Williams, who now suddenly wants to hurt her ex-husband, Kordell Stewart, by fueling the gay rumors that have apparently followed him for several years now. Unfortunately, she forgets that we all have eyes and ears, and thus, saw her working hard to keep her marriage alive despite these newfound fears she conveniently developed right in time for the season to begin filming. Funny what feelings rejection will bring out.

Now if such a gay friendly show has no issue with gay men, why was this idea of Kordell being gay (he denies it), such an easy way to question his manhood several times over?

I suppose I’ll pose that question to Porsha’s reality TV show friend and fake new neighbor, NeNe Leakes, who decided to disparage Kenya Moore’s friend Brandon as “queen” and “girl.” First of all, if we’re talking about a person with courage, it is not Christopher Williams towering over a woman in confrontation; it is Brandon, who got up in defense of his friend. But I suppose because Brandon has a little lightness to his voice and a preference for penis that he might as well be a woman.

Who am I kidding, though? NeNe is no stranger to faking jacks herself.  On this same episode she tells Kenya Moore that “you lucky you ain’t got yo’ ass kicked.” Remember when NeNe had that domestic violence charity? (Insert Dwight Ebanks’ sinister laugh here.)

What’s most grating about NeNe’s contempt for queens, though, is the fact that she along with some of the other cast members, owe so much of their success to biting the ever-living hell out of gay Black men, and in particular, those “queens” NeNe speaks so sorely about. On another cringe-worthy episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta that aired in December, Cynthia Bailey tries to explain the concepts of “shade” and “reading” to would be new show regular, Mynique. Cynthia asks, “Do you have any gay friends? Like gay guy friends, like queens or anything. That’s good ‘cause you gonna need those.”

The show's usage of gay Black men as accessories has always been an annoyance, but season six has taken many to a new level of frustration with the outright expression of disdain for gay men when seeking retaliation.

Sadly it’s not just select stars from The Real Housewives of Atlanta that’s guilty of biting gay men for a come up and then condemning them. Everything about Tamar Braxton minus those “dot coms” can be traced to some Black person who’s been serving on the stoop of the big gay rainbow. And yet, on the first season of Tamar & Vince, when she had a disagreement with a gay magazine editor, what did she do? Make fun of his lisp, naturally. More, during the test run of The Real, she spoke of her disdain of dressing up little boys as “girls” – on more than one occasion.

Yeah, a purple onesie on a baby boy doesn’t mean he’s going to grow up to want a Quanell over a Quisha, and even if he did, if you have no problem building the popularity that gave you a second chance of a music career off the mores of effeminate men, why so worried when it looked to be all good a week ago during the taping schedule.

As of now, more times than not, Black gay male culture is being presented through the lens of Black women as the gay Black men behind it all are left to fester in secondary roles. Well, if they’re even there. That’s shameful on its own, but worse when some of these very women then have the nerve to then emasculate gay men by employing the very sort of tropes we expect to hear from your garden variety bigot.

That’s problematic for numerous reasons, but it’s especially silly to see women partake in this idiotic practice given it only further lends credence to the idea that femininity makes one less than. Gay men are not perfect. There is some noted sexism from our collective end, too. However, we all have to do better by each other as we are in a neck-and-neck race when it comes to who patriarchy and sexism hates more.

Bottom line, though: Most of you reality stars wouldn’t be a damn thing if not for your bopping off the gays. So don’t berate that “queen,” bow down to “her.” And say you’re welcome ‘cause the shade is you didn’t build that.

Michael Arceneaux is the author of the “The Weekly Read,” where tough love is served with just a touch of shade. Tweet him at @youngsinick.