- What is “TikTok including Musical.ly”? Tuesday 8:48 PM
- Video shows driver yelling N-word at Black woman in road rage incident Tuesday 7:40 PM
- A fan gifted Billie Eilish a jacket–it ended up in a thrift store for another fan to find Tuesday 6:49 PM
- Fans are surprisingly hyping Moby up for his new vegan tattoo Tuesday 6:13 PM
- Suspicionless searches of travelers’ electronics ruled unconstitutional Tuesday 5:22 PM
- Facebook testing TikTok clone within Instagram called Reels Tuesday 5:11 PM
- Han Solo shooting scene changed yet again, spawning ‘Maclunkey’ memes Tuesday 4:52 PM
- Facebook bug opened iPhone cameras while users scrolled their feeds Tuesday 4:36 PM
- Black Facebook employees say company racism has ‘gotten worse’ Tuesday 4:01 PM
- This fish with a ‘human face’ is here to give you nightmares Tuesday 3:28 PM
- TikTok’s piercing challenge leaves the fate of your face up to a filter Tuesday 2:54 PM
- Soldiers with top-secret clearance say they were ordered to install a sketchy app Tuesday 2:46 PM
- How to take your Korean beauty routine on the go Tuesday 2:24 PM
- Disney+’s ‘Encore!’ is a love letter to high school theater Tuesday 2:15 PM
- White tourist filmed shouting homophobic, racist slurs Tuesday 1:31 PM
When Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) took the stage at the CNN Equality Townhall last night, she gave her pronouns. Then CNN host Chris Cuomo said, in a joking tone, “mine too.” There was an uncomfortable beat of silent before Harris awkwardly responded, “all right.”
KAMALA HARRIS: My pronouns are she, her and hers.— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) October 11, 2019
CHRIS CUOMO: Mine, too.
HARRIS: Alright. pic.twitter.com/09gJ2pygjd
In a matter of seconds, the exchange demonstrated everything wrong with how well-intentioned cisgender, heterosexual politicians and members of the political media approach the LGBTQ community. People on Twitter ripped into Cuomo for appearing to mock giving pronouns or just being incredibly clueless.
Chris Cuomo just mocked Sen. Kamala Harris saying her pronouns by responding "mine too" and the gasp I let out.— Zach Stafford (@ZachStafford) October 11, 2019
I think Chris Cuomo was going for what I'm sure he thought was a harmless joke and I don't think he intended harm, but that was really not a great look.#EqualityTownHall— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) October 11, 2019
Chris Cuomo just made a joke about preferred pronouns? While hosting a town hall on LGBTQ issues?— Kevin Maisto (@kevinmaisto) October 11, 2019
Not long after the segment with Harris was finished, Cuomo urgently tweeted an apology. “PLEASE READ: When Sen. Harris said her pronouns were she her and her’s, I said mine too. I should not have. I apologize,” Cuomo wrote. “I am an ally of the LGBTQ community, and I am sorry because I am committed to helping us achieve equality. Thank you for watching our townhall.”
On the one hand, the gaffe was so tone-deaf, it’s easy to believe that it came of ignorance, not malice. On the other hand, Cuomo’s apology doesn’t demonstrate that he understands why what he said was wrong. Even if Cuomo’s hurtful joke didn’t come from a place of transphobia, he is only an effective ally if he educates himself. In other words, he can support LGBTQ people, but unless he does the work to learn and repair harm, he isn’t an ally.
Harris showed allyship when she gave her pronouns. But when Cuomo made a joke in response, she let it slide. Maybe she didn’t want to be combative, or maybe she didn’t know why it wasn’t OK, either. Anyone can say they’re an ally, but actually being an ally isn’t as easy.
What this awkward exchange really demonstrated was the inherent problems with letting the privileged lead discussions on marginalized issues. If it’s not their community, there’s a lot they won’t inherently understand. That doesn’t mean cisgender, heterosexual people can’t be a part of these discussions. It means that it’s basic politeness for them to do their homework first. It also means the experts should be given priority on the mic. Although there were multiple gay moderators, none of the moderators were transgender. CNN reportedly scrapped the only planned question from a Black trans woman at the last minute, in spite of the epidemic of violence against them.
If 2020 Democrats and members of the media want to push for equality, they should be making space—not jokes.
Alex Dalbey is a writer and zinester currently living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. They have written for The Daily Dot, Kill Screen, The Lingerie Addict, and Bullet Points.