Three white male teachers in a predominately Latino elementary school in South Los Angeles have been suspended after they chose to mock Black History Month by honoring O.J. Simpson, Dennis Rodman and RuPaul. The racial implications of this story have turned it into catnip for media who would be better served reporting on how the school in question is going to deal with more crippling budget cuts.
I suppose it is good that mainstream media is covering this story though -– it is unacceptable for these teachers to mock Black History Month with the violent image of O.J. Simpson or the bizarre choice of Dennis Rodman. But why is RuPaul’s inclusion part of the story? Yes, there are numerous prominent African Americans who have made significant contributions to the history of this country, but I count RuPaul among them.
RuPaul should be honored for Black History Month, Gay History Month (which is apparently October), or any other month.
I am sure that the anti-gay talking heads would blabber on about how RuPaul should not be a role model for children, but as Johnny Weir said recently, “Every little boy should be so lucky as to turn into me.” RuPaul should stand proudly and say the same.
RuPaul is a great American success story. She went from being “a little Black girl in the Brewster projects of Detroit, Michigan” to an uber-successful performer and TV star who has revolutionized one of the most creative and forward thinking artistic industries in our culture. You would think conservatives would swoon at the “pull yourself up by your own high heel straps” aspect of her story.
Ru’s story teaches children that they can truly be anything that they want to be, regardless of the hand they are dealt in life. She has been an inspiration and a pioneer throughout her career. Growing up, my generation was definitely light on the out gay celebrity front, and especially light on gay celebrities of color -– but Ru was always there. RuPaul has bravely and unapologetically been herself in the face of intense hostility throughout the years. She has taught us to look at gender in a more fluid way, look at life in a more glamorous way and to look at ourselves in a more loving way.
As these teachers prepare to lip synch for their jobs, I have a final message for them: “If you don’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love someone else. Can I get an Amen?”
Photo credit: Loren Javier