ICYMI: Rich, White, Straight Lady Lena Dunham Is Getting An Award For Appropriating LGBTQ Stories


It was actually a huge disappointment for me, when I came of age and realized that I was sexually attracted to men. So when my sister came out, I thought, Thank God, someone in this family can truly represent my passions and beliefs. Lena Dunham on Her Sister’s coming out

I am a queer woman – a lesbian, specifically – and Lena Dunham does not speak for me.

Someone in your family can now represent your passions and your beliefs, Lena Dunham?

Queerness does not, in any way, shape or form, belong to you. No matter how much you may want to elbow your way into what’s extraordinary and beautiful about queer culture, without having to actually experience marginalization yourself, you will never be queer and you will never, ever speak for us. Or at least, you will never speak for me.

But, you could at least try; I would actually really appreciate it if you did. Since you write a show called Girls, which takes place in a super gay and super diverse city, it would be nice if you could actually give voice, subjectivity and autonomy to a queer girl character. Instead, the most we have is Jessa, who makes out with Marnie as a stunt to titillate a guy in Season 1, while in Season 2 she ups the ante by performing oral sex on a closeted lesbian in rehab – but not because she’s queer, as the show’s actors and its writers, including Lena Dunham, continually deny, but because she “is just sexually damaged.”

If we are going to continue to give straight allies awards and accolades for their allyship, could we at least try and pick straight people who are actively and adamantly trying to make the world a better place for queer people? Lena Dunham treats female queerness as a sexual train wreck in her show, and yet she’s being awarded because she loves her gay sister and wishes she was close to cool enough to be queer. (Hint: she’s not.) 

Straight people loving and supporting queer people in their personal lives is very nice and very good etc etc etc. But it’s not award-worthy. It’s actually the bare minimum: treating queer people with respect is exercising basic human decency. While better than the alternative, it’s not a reason in 2014 to jump up and down and throw parades. 

I’m glad this rich white straight lady donated funds to a good cause. But at the same time, I demand we up our standards for active allyship. When we reward people like Lena Dunham, we are sending the message that she is doing A Great Job, when we should be sending the message that she has a long, long way to go if she ever wants to come close to being a cultural force for good in terms of queer representation.