“Stop trying to make it about race”: How Queer Culture was Co-opted by Whiteness

The flag was changed to include me and my black/POC counterparts to let us know that other queer people see the ugliness in our community. It signifies real unity. It means that the racism one member of the queer community experiences means something to everyone. It means that white LGBTQ+ people will come fight for their queer counterparts at other marches that may not pertain to gay or trans rights explicitly, but still affect our community. If you have an issue with that, you’re a part of the problem. Period. You’d rather not add two shades to a flag than acknowledge a problem in your own community. At least racists in the south will say it with their chests. You’re just a coward.

 

Pride_Flag

While laying in bed one night, I came across something interesting in my Facebook feed. I saw that two new shades were being added to the LGBTQ+ pride flag: brown and black. I read that those shades were added in solidarity to the overt racism in our society today, even in our own LGBTQ+ community. This was a big deal for me and my other black/Latinx queer friends. I smiled with glee, preparing to text all of them, until I read a response to it from someone I knew, who also happens to be bisexual like me.

Her response to an article about the new flag was:

IT [the flag] WAS ABOUT HAPPINESS AND THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF HAPPINESS THAT ONE CAN EXPERIENCE NO MATTER RACE, ORIENTATION OR OCCUPATION.

PLEASE STOP TRYING TO MAKE IT ABOUT RACE THE PEOPLE WHO MADE THIS FLAG ARE TURNING IN THEIR GRAVES.”

Imagine my black, queer face when I read, “PLEASE STOP TRYING TO MAKE IT ABOUT RACE,” from a fellow disadvantaged person who knows how it feels to be excluded for something out of their control. It made me think about something racist she said to me a few years ago actually, which led me to think of how simple-minded and single-faceted white LGBTQ+ people can be. It reminded me how horribly racist this community can be at times. I can’t tell you how many responses I read that were similar to this, mostly coming from white gay men. They disgusted me, and I wanted to respond with profanity and disrespect. I didn’t.

So this is my response to all of them:

First of all, if you’re mad about the new flag, I just want you to understand that the most disadvantaged people fought for your right to be open. Homeless/black/trans folks paved the way for you to obnoxiously use and popularize terms that originated from black women and black gay men. As a queer person, you should know about Stonewall and how important that is in our community. Did you even take the time to learn about who initiated Stonewall? Spoiler alert: It was a black trans woman. Marsha P. Johnson. If you haven’t at the very least heard of her, there’s a new documentary on Netflix about everything she’s done for our community. In short, stop acting like our issues are not important because when your issues are ours, you almost always benefit from it.

Secondly, we are living in Trump’s America. Donald Trump won a presidential election because of his racism and Islamophobia. Why do you people still think that racism just occurs within a specific group of “rednecks?” The majority of white people voted for him! Hell, you may have contributed to the problem if you decided that your allegiance to Bernie Sanders was more important than the safety of minorities. Here’s some bad news for you if you believe that racism exists solely in the rural south: it’s just as bad, if not worse, in the north. The white queer community’s passive-aggressive racism in the north is a horrible reality for many, many black queer people, especially men. If you don’t believe me, talk to a black queer man and ask him if he has ever tried to date a white queer man or has been on a dating site. Queer dating sites are prime examples of the prevalent racism in the LGBTQ+ community. “Dear White People,” a Netflix original, briefly addressed it with Lionel’s character. Many profiles blatantly stated, “No blacks please,” as a preference. That was one of the few battles Lionel had on that show.

On my end, I see a lot of LGBTQ+ white people disrespecting black women and black gay men by taking our gestures, phrases, and colloquialisms that are all viewed as “ghetto” by the media and transforming them into fun words to use without giving credit where it’s due. I know this because the white gay men that do this are usually using the words wrong. Most gay lingo you have heard comes from black gay men. They’ve been saying, “the gag is,” and “slay,” since your parents were born. The words we use shouldn’t be ghetto or bougie on us, but cute for you to use. That’s just one example of the racism that gets glossed over in our community.

The flag was changed to include me and my black/POC counterparts to let us know that other queer people see the ugliness in our community. It signifies real unity. It means that the racism one member of the queer community experiences means something to everyone. It means that white LGBTQ+ people will come fight for their queer counterparts at other marches that may not pertain to gay or trans rights explicitly, but still affect our community. If you have an issue with that, you’re a part of the problem. Period. You’d rather not add two shades to a flag than acknowledge a problem in your own community. At least racists in the south will say it with their chests. You’re just a coward.

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