Joy Reid – screen capture from MSNBC
Originally posted on April 28, 2018
“I look back today at some of the ways I’ve talked casually about people and gender identity and sexual orientation and I wonder who that even was. But the reality is that like a lot of people in this country that person was me” – MSNBC anchor Joy Reid.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve likely heard about the recent revelation of homophobic and transphobic Tweets and blog posts from MSNBC’s Joy Reid. Some members of the LGBTQ community have given her the benefit of the doubt relatively quickly while others have accused her of outright lying, saying that she is simply trying to salvage her career. I have remained relatively quiet on the subject until now, as I needed to further study the situation.
Joy has been a strong ally of our community for some time. Like her, I too grew up in a conservative (not necessarily politically, but definitely socially) household. What was considered right and wrong was largely driven by what “the man” standing “up there” reading from “the book” in church on Sunday morning told us to believe. And we didn’t dare ever “question God.” Of course, me being me, when I was told that, my first question was “Why not?” But I digress…
Many of us of a certain age who grew up in certain parts of the United States can likely relate to where Joy’s coming from and to her evolution. I know I can. It was hard enough coming to terms with my own sexual orientation, which, to be clear, I believe with every fiber of my being I was born with, but as I became aware that some folks actually struggled with their gender identity I too was guilty of not understanding and reacting based on fear rather than understanding. It’s not been until relatively recently in the grander scheme of things that my thoughts and beliefs have evolved. I am confident that Joy’s have as well.
I know that for me LGBTQ issues are a big thing. They haven’t always been, and I have acknowledged that I too was one of “those gays” that other activists talked about. I can’t help but wonder if the same is true of Joy. We each have our own timeline. I for one am happy to have someone with her presence as an ally so I personally choose to forgive her and move on.
UPDATE July 9, 2020 I just learned that Joy as been tapped to lead the 7 p.m. weeknight hour on MSNBC beginning July 20th. Joy’s new Washington-based show, “The ReidOut,” will feature one-on-one conversations with politicians and newsmakers and cover the political issues of the day, drawing from her experience covering the intersection of race, justice and culture. Congratulations, Joy!
Charles Chan Massey is the co-founder and Executive Director of The Personal Stories Project. He refers to himself as an “Accidental Activist” because just as he didn’t choose to be gay, he didn’t choose to become an activist. Activism chose him. You can reach Charles at firstname.lastname@example.org.