The Audacity of Whiteness

William Fitzgerald Flood
3 min readJun 5, 2017

I went to a Jake Shears concert solo last evening, and I got my entire life. This event would not be of note, (an international pop star singing onstage) except for the context.

It was in Louisville…Kentucky

It was in a small venue.

I am a black, gay male.

Oh yeah, the songs were damn good too…

Everything is wrong here. This pixie, dream funk/disco/pop Peter Pan, writhing and growling about the men he has loved and fully embracing his palpable sexuality in a plaid cotton jumpsuit is completely out of place in a southern, VERY red state that as recently as 2015 passed an anti -trans bathroom bill.

As I gazed about the performance space, there was barely room to groove there were so many people wedged into any available empty space. I counted the people of color on one hand, (a black drag queen also appeared) with what appeared to be an Asian American onstage as guitarist, and a black person on keyboard. What hit me at the time, and what marinates within me now is the displacement of heteronormative white normalcy, the interruption of expected place-all brought together by Jake Shears last night.

He shouldn’t be in the south singing these songs. I shouldn’t be at this concert space in this white part of town. This assortment of people shouldn’t be together collectively getting their souls as one under the siren call of Jake Shears.

All of the “should nots”coming together into one big “is happening” challenged difference in a beautiful way last night. He sang about the usual-love, sex, heartache, pain, loss, and joy. Shears sings these songs from his subjectivity of gay whiteness. My gay blackness, often stigmatized BY gay whiteness, somehow felt recognized by the coming together of the many “should nots” in the room. So often our camps circle the wagons in identity politics, and rightly so, but last night the room was seduced into the agency of queer white pop stardom. He delivered each song right to the heart of me and it gave me hope.

If this gay white man, shaking his butt in a one piece and rattling my soul with his words of love could move me and this whole room of intersections then maybe there is a chance for dialogue and communication between us outside of this space. The current climate of silos and shouting outside of them must end. The audacity of Jake Shears’ whiteness was harnessed to bring us together onstage and in the crowd. In a way that was allyship last evening, an act of self care projected out towards us. He expressed his deep affection for Louisville, which he has made his home for the near past, as he worked on this album.

Last night a DJ saved my life (shoutout to DJ Tai) but a white, cis-gender gay male saved my hope for tomorrow.

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William Fitzgerald Flood

Artist, Activist, Professor and occasional watcher of too many 80s cartoons.