Anytime LGBTQ+ issues make their way to The Breakfast Club, the nationally syndicated urban radio show hosted by DJ Envy, Angela Yee, and Charlamagne tha God, the entire Black and Brown LGBTQ+ community gets a migraine. That’s because the show doesn’t have a great track record on the subject. .
But after New York Undercover and Empire actor Malik Yoba disclosed his attraction to trans women on social media, the co-hosts decided to tread the rainbow waters once more and have what DJ Envy called “a serious conversation where we can learn and understand everything that’s going on.” The hosts invited Yoba and David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, on the show. In an effort to center trans women in the discussion, they brought along RuPaul Drag Race’s Carmen Carrera and Nala Toussaint, TGNB Health Advocacy Coordinator at the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center.
What resulted in the hour long interview, which was released online Wednesday, was a necessary, timely education.
Johns began the conversation by recognizing that The Breakfast Club has “been a source of trauma for some members of the community, trans folks in particular,” an obvious reference to the 2017 incident in which author and television director Janet Mock, a Black trans woman, appeared on the show. A few days after her interview, the hosts instigated comedian Lil Duval to make light about killing her if he encountered her.
The stand-up comic was asked by fellow host DJ Envy what he would do if he found out he slept with a trans woman.
“This might sound messed up and I don’t care: she’s dying,” he responded to laughs. Among his other choice remarks, he said “that ain’t a girl, that’s a boy” and talked about “manipulation.” When host Charlamagne Tha God attempted to intervene and say that you can’t say you’ll kill trans women, Duval tried and failed to clarify, stating: “I didn’t say I was gonna kill transgenders. I said, if one did that to me, and they didn’t tell me, I’ma be so mad I’d probably kill them.”
The ordel prompted Mock to pen an open letter to the show. “Until cis people — especially heteronormative men — are able to interrogate their own toxic masculinity and realize their own gender performance is literally killing trans women, cis men will continue to persecute trans women and blame them for their own deaths,” she wrote at the time.
“I want to acknowledge both the trauma as well as y’all leaning into it, listening to it, learning from it, and then making space so that we can heal and do better,” Johns said.
Yoba reiterated that he is straight, as are all men who are attracted to women.
“I consider myself a heterosexual male that loves women,” he said. “Period, end of story. I am not attracted to the male aesthetic. I am not attracted to men.”
Shortly after Yoba initially disclosed this information on an Instgram post weeks ago, allegations that he engaged in sexual acts with underaged trans girls surfaced. He denied the claims in a separate video posted to his social media Sept. 4, which has since been deleted.
But while Yoba’s disclosure that he is attracted to all women, cis and trans, is what prompted the interview discussion, it was Toussaint and Carrera whoy provided the necessary education for listeners. When asked by Yee about knowing when a man is festishzing trans people, Toussaint said, “fetish comes when you only want to be with that person in the dark, you only want to be with that person sexually.
“Oftentimes, because our community has this rhetoric that creates stigma for particularly men, particularly Black men, who can’t feel free enough to be their authentic self, to love authentically and freely, that stigma promotes that fetishization,” she continued.
Later in the interview, when DJ Envy tried to ask a question regarding trans women and their bodies, Johns shut it down — an example of necessary and intentional accountability that doesn’t often happen on the show.
“That is problematic because, again, transness has so little to do with otherwise determined male genitalia,” he said. “We gotta get beyond being fascinated with people's dicks. This conversation is about people’s spirits, making space for people and how they show up. It ain’t got shit to do with what they got between they legs.”
Carrera added: “I want to live in a safe place. If I want to go to [a restaurant] and I meet somebody, I don't want to be scared for my life. I should be able to say, ‘Hey, I'm trans’ at the bar and them not think any less of me.”
Here’s to hoping the show’s co-hosts actually learned something. Check out the full interview here.