Already under fire from an ex-employee for allegedly being caught in the throes of a gay romantic encounter in her office, Florida’s first African American lieutenant governor, Jennifer Carroll, sparked a national inferno when she told the press that “black women who look like me” could not be homosexuals.
The ultimate verbal fumble has not only incited outrage from the homosexual community, particularly among gay black women, but it also cast an unflattering light on her character and adds to suspicions surrounding the alleged episode in her office.
Here’s how the highest-ranking black official in Florida history tried to put out the fires from an aide who said she caught Carroll in “a compromising position” in her state capitol office:
“The problem is that when you have these accusations that come out,” Carroll told a Tampa television station, “it’s not just one person you’re attacking. It’s an entire family. My husband doesn’t want to hear that. He knows the type of woman I am. I mean, my kids know the type of woman I am … Usually black women that look like me don’t engage in relationships like that.”
Carroll’s clumsy defense — that she couldn’t have engaged in homosexual acts because she doesn’t physically resemble a lesbian — is being seen as an attack on the lesbian community at large and the black lesbian community in particular.
The backlash against Carroll because of her word choices and denigration of lesbians was fast and furious:
- “You have labeled lesbian gender expression as being deviant,” Alysia, a self-identified black lesbian woman wrote to the Lt. Governor, according to the HuffPost. “and have both denied and revoked black lesbian femininity. Since I don’t have a visual lesbian identifier you have tried to silence me.”
- Another woman, Jaye, wrote, “Black women who are professional, well educated, well spoken and well dressed just might be lesbians, too!”
- In response to Carroll’s statements, women posted pictures of themselves on Twitter #ThisIsWhatALesbianLooksLike, at the behest of HuffPost, to show that lesbians come in “all colors, all sizes, all hairstyles!”
The former aide’s accusation was not politically damaging, since there were no forthcoming witnesses to corroborate the aide’s accounts. But Carroll’s unfortunate defense of her heterosexuality certainly is, and it remains to be seen just how much it will cost her.