“Now they got two little nice statues in Chariot Park to remember the gay movement. How many people have died for these two little statues to be put in the park for them to recognize gay people? How many years has it taken people to realize that we are all brothers and sisters and human beings in the human race? I mean how many years does it take people to see that? We’re all in this rat race together!” -Marsha P. Johnson
For years, queer people of color have been the backbone of the LGBTQ+ community. Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans woman is credited with being the biggest catalyst in the modern gay rights movement by starting the Stonewall Riots. Laverne Cox is another LGBTQ trailblazer, providing a new voice for black queer youth as a black trans woman herself. Yet despite their, and many others, massive contributions to the community, the racism and discrimination queer POC face within the community is all too real and too frequent. Before we dive into the problem, I must take a small moment to acknowledge that I am writing this as a cisgender white male. I will never experience any of the racial discrimination my fellow queer people face, and to the world, I will always be white before I am gay. However, the LGBTQ+ community is still my community, and any issues it faces we must acknowledge and face together. Therefore, I cannot quietly sit by and ignore a problem so prevalent in the community. As Emma Lazarus says, “until we are all free, none of us are free.”
When you picture a gay couple, what image comes to mind? Neil Patrick Harris and his husband? Maybe Ellen and Portia? The poster-couple for what queer people are “supposed” to look like is white. Even the Google search results for just the words “gay couple” or “gay man” mainly displays photos of white men or white couples. Why is this? There is no one way to be queer. There is no skin color for queer. The Gallup Special Report that out of 3.4% of U.S. adults identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, the highest incidence among those who are non-white (Gates, Newport). This means that out of the 120,000 adults surveyed, people of color were also queer people. Yet, the massive statistic that over 51% of black and Asian minorities report experiencing discrimination within their LGBT network shows that racism within our community is a topic that must be talked about and challenged.
On many same-sex dating apps, you will find one at least one, usually white, man whose profile reads something along the lines of “No fats, no fems, no Blacks, no Asians.” This profile might as well read: “Whites Only”, but the defense for this bigoted behavior is often “it’s just a preference”. According to a survey, 30.6% of white gay men would not date a southeast or east Asian man, and 16.3% would not date a black man. Both of these statistics are based only on the fact the other man would be black or Asian. To actively dismiss a person because they are a certain race, is racism. You cannot ignore an entire group of people based on stereotypes you have in your head. We must also look at those who chose to reinforce negative stereotypes, such as the fetishization of Asian men as being “submissive” in a relationship, or when dating a black man, it not being for the size of his heart. All of these stereotypes diminish beautiful, complex and wonderful people down to a prejudice preconceived idea of what you want to think they should be.
Another issue huge problem is that almost 69% of white gay men have witnessed racism on the gay scene. But only 38% have actually acted when seeing it. This means that a little over have of white gay men that have seen it actually did something about it. Here is an easy opportunity to be a REAL ally, and to speak up and aid your fellow gay man.
If you see someone being discriminated against, you owe it to the community to stop it.
As gay people, many of us already know what some forms of discrimination feel like. Many, truly if not all, of us have experienced homophobia in one way or another. There should be at least a basic understanding of the way it feels to sympathize with. Queer people of color should not have to face discrimination in a community supposedly based around love and acceptance. They deserve a space to feel fully safe and protected. We must begin to dismantle the racism within our community and listen to queer people of color on ways to fight it. Like, by calling out white gay men for their racist ways. It is up to us to hold ourselves to the sole foundation our community is based on: Love.
By: Ethan Harris