At the beginning of the month, not-so-funny comedian, Katt Williams, turned Twitter into a stand up act and lesbians were the brunt of his “jokes.” “A new drug has been developed for lesbians with depression,” he wrote on Tuesday, August 2 to his 21,000 followers. “It’s called Trycoxagain.” Less than a week later, Grammy-nominated R&B singer Omarion tweeted, “I don’t believe in lesbians…they change around me…even if they just want to sample…I can be the ‘example.’” If the narrative around so-called “reparative” or “conversion therapy” isn’t centered around prayer, it’s centered around the penis—but what’s really at the core of this misguided and potentially dangerous discussion are two other “p” words: power and privilege. Katt Williams and Omarion’s tweets aren’t innocent; they’re enablers.
Myths, Mistakes and Misconceptions
Both tweets are based on misconceptions about lesbians and human sexuality. The first is they assume that all lesbians have had intercourse with men prior to identifying as lesbian. “Trycoxagain” implies that a woman once experienced sex with a man and if she tries it again, she will magically be “cured.” The reality is that there are lesbians who have never dated men or been intimate with men. Women do not necessarily have to have sex with guys to know that they’re gay.
Secondly, Katt Williams and Omarion overlook the multiple levels of attraction. Being gay or lesbian is the capacity for emotional, romantic, and/or physical attraction to the same sex or gender. One’s orientation is not solely dependent on who they have sex with. It might come as a shocker, but we have the human capacity to love too.
Finally, the tweets completely ignore the Kinsey scale, a system that describes a person’s sexual history or episodes of his or her sexual activity at a given time. In 1948, biologist Alfred Kinsey concluded that sexuality exists on a continuum – that orientation is more complex than gay or straight. Factors such as an individual’s fantasies, thoughts, emotional feelings, sexual activity and more all contribute to the “ranking.” In other words, someone can identify as lesbian and land on a 4 or 5 on the Kinsey Scale (4 being predominantly gay, but more than incidentally straight and 5 being predominantly gay, only incidentally straight). Sexuality is fluid for some, but another person cannot “make” them that way. We’re governed intrinsically by love, lust, passion, and desire, not someone’s ego trip or some so-called “divine intervention.”
Not a Laughing Matter
It might be easy for some to dismiss tweets like the ones Katt Williams and Omarion made, but it’s no laughing matter. Within the States, women are harassed and assaulted when men learn they’re gay. On July 30, in Washington, DC five African-American lesbians were harassed and assaulted by two men when the men learned the woman they made advances toward was the girlfriend of another woman in the group. According to the police report, one woman was punched several times in the head and face. Three of the other women were also struck before police arrived. “I will kick that dyke bitch’s ass,” one of the men threatened. It’s not just within our borders that lesbians are targeted. In many parts of Africa, lesbian women are gang raped by groups of men to “cure” their orientation.
So-called “ex-gay therapy” has been discredited by every reputable mental health and medical organization. The American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and others have deemed them as ineffectual, potentially harmful and based on pseudo-science. Recipients of this so-called “therapy” may go on to experience guilt, anxiety, and damaged self-esteem, which can lead to depression and even suicide.
At the end of the day, the baseless 140 characters are a testament to Katt Williams and Omarion’s insecurities and an even bigger indication of the male-privilege-stricken society we still live in. Whether you’re gay or straight, male or female, these tweets should outrage anyone with any level of respect for women. They attempt to diminish women’s self-determination, trivialize our relationships and reduce us to just a body. They send the wrong message that this is okay. Each action begins with a thought, or in this case, a tweet.