The following post was written Friday night. Not the best time to be read by most of my readers or the web, but I just had to get it out. To make sure it gets the attention it needs, I’ve promoted it back to the top today. There’s some good conversation over at the Pam’s House Blend cross post.
It seems as though, after Prop. 8, there’s been a whole lot of conversation on the intersections between race and sexuality.
I wonder if we’ve learned anything. Or, maybe we’ve all be foaming at the mouth with absolutely zero listening capacity.
In a recent Bilerico post, “No on ‘Gay is Black,'” I wasn’t surprised to see the conversation very quickly turn into a competition of which group has suffered the most. It’s as if civil rights should be doled out on the basis of the pain inflicted rather than on the basis of what is actually right and wrong inside the legal and moral framework of our Constitution and national ideals.
Addressing activist Lane Hudson’s assertion that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 should be amended to include LGBT people, former Washington Blade editor Chris Crain wrote, “The fact is that the significance of such legislation would be largely symbolic. No one is marching in the street because we’re refused rooms at hotels, service in restaurants and lunch counters or seats at the front of the bus. Has anyone ever seen a “queer-only” water fountain?”
In a late-November post here in response to Crain, I wrote:
There might not be “queers-only” water fountains, and city governments might not be spraying my children down with firehouses, and my ancestors might not have been slaves, but that doesn’t mean the discrimination I face is any less unequal and un-American.
There are straights-only jobs. There are straights-only homes and hotels. There have been attempts to create straights-only counties. There are straights-only schools. There are straights-only youth services. There is a straights-only military, and a straights-only, government-sponsored institution of marriage.
The title of the post was “My suffering no more, no less – just different.”
Since Prop. 8, I would have hoped our community had seen the light: We must, like really, really MUST, reach out to communities of color. And, I’m not just talking about the ones who don’t like us. I’m talking about ALL communities of color, especially those inside our own LGBT community.
In fact, we should be reaching out inside our community before any movement for outreach in straight communities of color. Remember: “If you can’t keep your house clean, you certainly can’t be the one to clean up anybody else’s.”
I don’t like the arguments based on who has suffered most, or who has faced more bigotry. We’ve all faced it, to some extent. Some of us have experienced more and some of us less, but the pain and hurt, along with the real world complications, caused by discrimination and prejudice affect us all equally. You can’t put a measure on human pain and heartbreak.
I’ll admit history holds truly different and unique stories for the African-American and LGBT communities. That’s a fact we all have to face. But, at the same time, I know that while I haven’t been lynched, I’ve experienced more pain than any American should ever have to experience.
I think we have to start realizing that our pain as LGBT people and the past and current experiences of people of color are all tied to the same source.
Charles Merrill stated in the “No on ‘Gay is the New Black'” post:
The oppression of all three groups Jews, African American and LGBT’s stem from the same source, passages in the Old and New Testament of the Bible.
I blame main stream religious denominations for not speaking out against other Christian denominations. Faith is considered “private” and not a topic for dialogue. This is how the extremists gain control.
Even when it is discussed, it is one passage against the other passage. Not a free thinking dialogue pertaining to modern society and scientific findings.
Would history have treated African-Americans any better in the absence of “religious” support for their bondage? I don’t know, but it might have. And I’m more than certain that LGBT kids wouldn’t be killing themselves if radical fundamentalists didn’t demonize them, turning them into walking zombies who think, at ages as young as 11 or 12, that life and love are meaningless and worthless.
Our oppression stems from the same source. Why does it seem we’re fighting among each other for the “We’ve had it worst” trophy, instead of working together to grant equality for all?
If the LGBT community – including our own communities of color – want to succeed in our movement for life, liberty and happiness, we’ll have to start treating each other a whole hell of a lot better. I mean, if we can treat each other like shit, why can’t the fundamentalists, right?
It’s time to stop the competition. There is no trophy to be gained. No one has to be “first in line.” We can work together and accomplish equality for all. Just imagine what kind of coalitions we can build. Just imagine.