By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com July 15 2011 2:30 PM ET
The guy you love to hate, Jeff Lewis, the gay host of Bravo's Flipping Out, is at it again, this time with the help of Curbed.com, a website that says it has a “fascination with real estate porn in all its many glories.” Curbed ran an interview with the famous contrarian house-flipper entitled “Jeff Lewis on Cannibals, Cremation, and Transgender Crack Addicts.”
The interview shows Lewis’ desperate need for diversity sensitivity training.
Speaking of the worst house he ever purchased, Lewis said, “Normally when you buy a house, the house is delivered vacant. I thought it was delivered vacant, but when I started the demo I realized there was this basement that I didn't see during the inspection, and there was a transgender crack addict. A lot of times when you buy a house you inherit a feral cat or a raccoon or something, but in this particular case I inherited a crack addict — no joke! It took me a couple of weeks to get rid of he/she. But I didn't even know he/she was living there. It was pretty crazy.”
Dr. Jillian T. Weiss, associate editor of the Bilerico Project, joined many is expressing outrage both at Lewis’ derogatory use of he/she as well as the headline: “Your comment about the poor woman living in a basement, and your reference to her as a transgender crack addict,' along with its use in the title to titillate, is shameful. Transgender people are human beings, and not to be used as the butt of your jokes, regardless of their poverty or sobriety issues. You should immediately change the title of this piece and erase that prejudiced remark.”
While Lewis refused to comment and Curbed editors stood by the piece, transgender activists expressed remain outraged.
“My concern isn't that there was a transgender crack addict in the basement,” wrote Weiss. “My concern was that stringing together ‘Cannibals, Cremation and Transgender Crack Addicts is a blatant attempt to titillate the audience by suggesting a Silence of the Lambs-type comparison between trans people and the gruesome practice of cannibalism and the macabre subject of cremation. Had there been a story about ‘Cannibalism, Cremation and Black Crack Addicts,’ bolded and calling the person a derogatory name, would any sane person doubt that there was a racist subtext, whether ‘intended’ or not? There are, of course, trans cracks addicts, just as there are black crack addicts and many other types of people affected by sobriety issues. This is completely beside the point.”