Summary: In a recent interview with Arsenio Hall (start 3:33; end 5:35), RuPaul provides a pithy explanation of how power, privilege, and inequality operate by similar logic structures across different social and historical contexts. After referencing football player Michael Sam's recent decision to come out as gay just prior to the NFL draft, Arsenio asks RuPaul to reflect on homophobia in the black community. RuPaul responds by reframing the discussion to take on a more systemic perspective of how power works, drawing parallels to the oppressions faced by black and queer people. Arsenio plays "devil's advocate" by evoking (though not explicitly referencing) black people's history with slavery, a history never experienced exclusively by gay people. RuPaul replies by explaining how racism, homophobia, and other systems of oppression rely on the same logic structures, in that they all revolve around "the ego needing to strengthen itself through putting someone else down. That's the similarity. And that's the same for people who have been oppressed for religion or race or sexuality." While sociologists might use slightly different vocabulary (for example, focusing less on "the ego"), sociologists draw attention to the same insight, illustrating how, as Allan Johnson argues, different forms of oppression all rely on systemic "patterns of exclusion, rejection, privilege, harassment, discrimination, and violence" (697). For the full interview between RuPaul and Arsenio, click here.
Submitted By: Valerie Chepp