Happy Pride, y’all!
It’s been 52 years since our good sis Marsha P. Johnson threw the literal brick to set Pride in motion. Marsha, along with some other queer Black folk, like Stormé DeLarverie and Miss Major, led the Stonewall riots for 6 days.
It is because of Black trans and queer people that Pride exists today. Full stop.
Then why is it that many people in the Black and Brown queer community feel pushed out?
The simple answer is because they have been/are.
Because of what, you ask? Racism.
If you don’t know by now (you should know this), racism affects every single solitary aspect of our society. And even inside of groups that already face oppression, like the LGBTQIA+ community, racism is prevalent. This means that Black and Brown queer people have to deal with the phobias AND racism AND, depending on their gender identity, sexism/misogynoir too.
That, my friends, is a good example of intersectionality.
Is a white, cis, gay man oppressed? He sure is.
But nowhere near as much as, say, a Black, trans woman who is a lesbian. Ya following? Cool.
One of the ways white queer people leverage their white privilege (because you didn’t think that went away, did you?) and actively contribute to the harm of Black and Brown queer people is white-washing LGBT history.
Of the more notable recent examples of this is Roland Emmerlich’s 2015 movie “Stonewall,” where he essentially removed/lessened the importance of most of the real-life Black and Brown people and replaced them with white characters. You know that brick Marsha threw? Well, in the movie, it was thrown by none other than a gay white man.
This kind of white-centered revisionist media is not at all uncommon, but neither is downplaying the role Black and Brown people have had in fighting for LGBT rights. As is the case in pretty much every situation where rights are being fought for, Black people, specifically Black queer folks here, have and do lead the charge for fighting injustice – and almost as if they’re following a formula, non-Black queer folks benefit, but then are quick to turn a blind eye to the plight of Black queer people.
The formula is Black queer folks + systematic oppression + a long, traumatic fight = non-Black queer folk reaping most of the benefits and ignoring the problems that still exist for the Black queer community.
That math don’t add up to me.
Like with the HIV epidemic, once society no longer saw it as a “white, gay, man disease” and medical advancements were made more readily available to that population, it was no longer their problem. Meanwhile, Black people, even still today, make up around 40% of the HIV+ community. Might I remind you that Black people are 12.8% of the total US population and about 12% of the LGBT population.
The overrepresentation in the HIV+ community is also largely because of structural racism in healthcare and economic racism. Because Black people have added barriers to financial freedom and deal with medical bias, obtaining adequate healthcare and access to PrEP, Descovy, Truvada and other HIV medications and HIV clinical trials are limited.
As for more individual racism, you have situations where gay bars (like in San Francisco, DC, Philly- really everywhere) have had discrimination suits filed against them by Black queer folk for doing things like refusing to hire them, assault, using racial slurs and hiding the Hennessey and glassware when there are large crowds of Black people. Yes, y’all, they hide the damn glassware and Henny. 🙄
But there’s also what plays out in dating. One of the most common dating app profile preferences for white queer people, like on Grindr, is “no fats, no femmes, no Blacks, no Asians,” sometimes written out as “no chocolate, no curry, no rice, no spice.” Now I doubt there’s an influx of melanated queer folks dying to be with the aforementioned non-melanated, but the point still stands.
I’ve talked about white gay men a bit here, but white lesbians, you are not free from criticism. There’s a post out right now that describes how more masculine-presenting lesbians should NOT use the term Stud, but instead, use Masc or Butch. Stud is specifically for Black or Afro-Latina masculine-presenting lesbians and the term (and others) was created when white lesbians refused to accept and pushed out their Black counterparts.
While we’re on the topic of Black queer terms, we might as well talk about appropriation. A lot of Black queer culture is stolen and made “trendy” by white queer culture, but, as usual, is still demonized when Black people engage in it. Especially language. Almost all of what’s considered queer lingo originated in the Black queer community.
In general, can y’all stop taking our shit?? Damn. Nothing “kills” a cultural phrase, word, dance, whatever, then when it’s co-opted by white culture.
People gloss over the fact that, at one time, LGBTQIA+ was just a “G.” Lesbians, mainly Black lesbians, fought to be included in the ’80s, and the “G” expanded to have an “L.” Still wasn’t a lot of justice for Black queer folks, though.
Later on, other letters were added to represent different communities, again, thanks to the fight from Black queer people. They still didn’t see equitable representation or respect.
In 2017, in Philly, Amber Hikes added Black and Brown stripes to the rainbow flag (which is widely used today as THE flag) to make a stand against racism in the queer community, acknowledge the continual fight and bring to the forefront queer melanated voices.
How do you think Amber was received back then, and even still, now? White queer people, but predominantly white, gay men…Lost. Their. Fucking. Minds.
Amber, and those who supported the change, received thousands of death threats. There were attempts to silence and discredit Black and Brown queer people and the dismissiveness of their struggles was laid on EXTRA HEAVY.
You know, typical shit.
For Pride, and every damn day of the year, DO NOT forget to thank the Black trailblazers who made every inch towards equality possible. While talking about oppression in the queer community, don’t intentionally forgo discussing how multiply oppressed some are and how others assist in that oppression. If you’re gon’ talk about it, talk about it all.
Haven’t said this in a while, but in case there were any doubts: BLACK LIVES MATTER.
BLACK QUEER LIVES MATTER! All day, erry day. 🌈
When JanayB isn’t posting memes, scrolling through “wokebook” posts, ordering food and otherwise being your typical millennial, you can find her here destroying white tears and basking in her unapologetic blackness. Get in touch with her at JanayBsays@gmail.com