Ed Buck and the Fetishization and Devaluation of Gay Black Bodies

Timothy Dean is not the first gay black man who has been found dead in Ed Buck’s home. In July 2017 it was Gemmel Moore. In both instances, the causes of death point to apparent overdose. Of course, Buck’s lawyer is making sure to cover all of his bases by stating that Dean “came over intoxicated.” The way that current laws are set up, I can imagine that it will be difficult to prove that Ed Buck was directly responsible for Timothy Dean’s death without a reasonable doubt. When you couple that fact with the justice system’s obsession with protecting whiteness, I don’t have much faith that anything will happen to Mr. Buck.

We already know that the gay community as a whole has a problem with racism just like the rest of society. So it’s not a shock to see that gay black bodies have been and continue to be fetishized by many white LGBT people. This is an important fact to consider when discussing the disturbing developments around Buck’s controversy.

Another thing to consider is the social and financial status of some of the individuals like Buck. Some white members of the LGBT community have a lot of social capital, they have a lot of money, and they use this power to lure in and take advantage of the black people that they fetishize (who usually do not have as much). People who abuse their status and access in this way know exactly the type of black victims to choose so that they can get away with anything. Society constantly leans toward ignoring black voices, so if you’re black, gay, and a sex worker for example, you’re in an even worse position. They know that you’re less likely to be taken seriously and that their whiteness often can act as a force field against any potential negative consequences.

Can you imagine for a moment if Ed Buck ended up with a dead white girl in his home who passed away from an overdose? Can you imagine the outrage and the media frenzy that would accompany that revelation? It’s very likely that Ed Buck would have been properly dealt with the first time if a white body was found at his place. I don’t think that he would have gotten the opportunity to have another body discovered in his apartment if this hypothetical situation had unfolded.

Since the victims were black and gay, Buck’s destructive habits and predatory behavior was overlooked by many and he was allowed to continue with it. Because of that, another black gay life was cut short. This is why doing our best to defeat homophobia and racism is so important. Our black gay bodies must be valued in the same way that white bodies are. This is the only way that our victimhood and voices will be taken seriously. This is the only way that our lives will be seen as worth fighting for.

I’ve also seen some victim blaming going on—even in the LGBT community—that I wish would stop. Yes, we all should be cautious, but some are missing the point that people can be manipulative and predatory (especially if they have access to financial resources). They can use their status to influence other people’s minds and behaviour. All that aside, two gay black men are gone and that is what we should be focused on. We should be concerned with protecting the black community from those who only see us as disposable pieces of meat.

I’m extremely tired of never feeling completely safe. In the LGBT community, it is our blackness that puts us at risk. In all other communities, not only does our queerness make us a target, but our blackness does as well. In a perfect world, the LGBT community would be the sanctuary that it often presents itself as. Since this isn’t a perfect world, the most we can do is look out for each other and do our best not to fall into the same mindsets and “isms” that put us in danger in the first place.

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