Op-ed: The White Party and Gay Culture Need More Color

Thousands upon thousands of gay men will flock to Palm Springs, Calif., this weekend for endless carousing, pulsating music, and shirtless hunks everywhere. Produced annually by promoter Jeffrey Sanker, the White Party is billed as the world’s largest gay dance festival and was described by The Huffington Post as “synonymous with mainstream gay culture.” The event is an international spectacle, attracting “circuit boys” from all over the globe.

The White Party is also aptly named. Each year its staff chooses dozens of ambassadors designated as Official Men of White Party and Official Go-Gos of White Party, respectfully. As in years past, those selected for 2015 were largely white. There wasn’t a single dark-skinned black man, for example. There are plenty of very attractive, dark, black and Asian gays with magnificent bodies in Southern California, so “mainstream gay culture” as defined by the White Party doesn’t present itself as inclusive of anyone who cannot be mistaken for Caucasian in the right lighting.

This kind of segregation and white privilege is more typical of gay rituals than straight supporters of LGBT rights may think, especially given the gay community’s lip service to tolerance and equality. The hypocritical inability of gays to practice ethnic inclusion in their own establishments makes it difficult to take seriously the recent backlash against Indiana’s “religious freedom” law.

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