It didn’t take American Idol runner-up and new Motown signee La’Porsha Renae long to realize she probably should have kept her stupid to herself with respect to thoughts about the LGBT community. In a recent interview, Renae was asked about the controversial HB1523 legislation that was passed in her home state of Mississippi recently. While Renae did express some niceties about LGBT folks – we’re people like everyone else, we have feelings, and other things you learn early as a Sesame Street viewer – her phrasing rightly courted controversy.
You see, Renae could have left her comments right there, but she went on to note: “I am one of the people who don’t really agree with that lifestyle. I wasn’t brought up that way. It wasn’t how I was raised. But I do have a lot of friends and a lot of people that I love dearly who are gay and homosexual and they’re such sweet, nice people. We should just respect each other’s differences and opinions and move on.”
Renae has since conducted another interview that ran on Tuesday in which she acknowledged she had been “offensive by using the word ‘lifestyle'” to describe homosexuality. Renae adds that while she’s totally aware of the details of HB1523, she is “firmly” against any discriminatory laws. How nice.
To some, this would be the part where I pack up my annoyance and mosey on over to the next thing many would describe as “problematic.”
However, I’m comfortable right where I am so I would like to spend a lil’ more time addressing the issue with use of “lifestyle.” La’Porsha Renae is 23 years old, but sounds like an uncomfortable senior citizen describing her gay child’s longtime “roommate.” And just like Big Mama, Renae needs to understand that veganism is a lifestyle, not my predominate and natural attraction to members of the same sex. No matter what Rachel "Fake Ass Freddie Brooks" Dolezal tells you, being Black is not a lifestyle choice either.
When people invoke “lifestyle” to describe one’s sexuality, they are insinuating that it is a choice. As in something that can be changed or “cured” depending on what kind of zealot you’re talking to. Renae might not even be fully aware of this because homophobia is so ingrained in society. Even her use of “homosexual” speaks to antiquated viewpoint of gays and lesbians. Whether or not she realizes any of this is irrelevant. The damage is done the minute the words are uttered.
Renae may have friendships with gay people, but I question how good a friend one can truly be to a person whose core they disapprove of. I say this as someone who has struggled with asking that same question of friends and family members. When love is conditional, one often can’t help but conclude that love is tainted.
Meanwhile, it is intellectually lazy to base your views about human sexuality based on how you were raised. One household, one community, one particular strain of life does not apply to everyone else. Again, Renae has since apologized, and to her credit, that is a start.
With time and exposure to people outside of her bubble, I hope that she learns a few things — starting with choosing her words more wisely.