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Standing at the intersection of Race & Sexual Identity

Updated: Dec 30, 2021

Everyday life has become even more dangerous in this day and age. Even so, the fear of discrimination at the hands of law enforcement remains a constant for many African Americans. Over the past decade, this fear has been elevated through the rise of social media and camera phones, contributing to an over- whelming dissemination of deeply traumatic images chronicling the last moments of people social media defiantly refuses to allow anyone to forget. We still say their name. For many, the blindfolds are off. We are becoming more “woke” to the oppressive grip that institutionally repressive policies exhibit and how they affect each and every one of us. More specifically for black people as this violence is incessantly captured and put on display for the world to view with a steady stream of people looking for any reason to discredit the real experiences of real people. In an act of solidarity, worldwide protests, and calls for justice proved to pull the wool from our eyes and really examine how race affects each and every one of us.

For the first time, major businesses, corporations, and organizations who once turned a blind eye towards racism finally acknowledged the movement and proclaimed that indeed, Black Lives Matter. It is a time for immense reclamation for many black people but for a portion of the black community, their voices still feel trampled under the calls for righteousness and justice. Despite all of this, many ponder on whether the black community will show up for them in the same manner that so many have been present for them in their own community.

The LGBT+ community exists in a spectrum of different hues, each with their own perspective that enriches their community and advances the global culture. Similar to the African American community. LGBT+ people, especially LGBT+ people of color’s contributions can be immediately felt across pop culture. Similar to the African American community. So much has been borrowed and repackaged for the consumption of the masses that the influence is almost undeniable. Similar to the African American community. Picking up what I’m putting down?

Specifically, regarding Black contributions, the tenacity of the African American spirit proved to serve as a tipping point for LGBT+ rights when a young woman named Marsha initiated one of the most widely known acts of rebellion, often seen as the catalyst for LGBT+ rights in this nation. The African American experience in this country is intrinsically tied to countless aspects of American culture, to include the LGBT+ experience. Yet for most LGBT people of color, they stand at the intersection of race and sexual identity, often times being forced to choose which cause to stand for as they may not feel respected in their own communities.

It would be very remiss of me to not mention some of my own experiences as a black gay male in America. I firmly believe that I can exist in both spaces simultaneously. I love being black and to be quite honest, I am learning to love myself more and more everyday as a gay man. Southern cookouts, block parties, and crab boils are just as much of a safe space for me as any gay bar. We all deserve to be respected in both spaces. In a day and age where everyone is fighting for equality, is it possible to want and receive the same equality from both ends of the spectrum as a black person and a member of the LGBT+ community? I’ve seen and experienced vile words and discriminatory behavior from both the black community and the LGBT+ community. I’ve been discriminated against for being black and separately for being gay and watched the same happen to friends and family in my circle.

Ultimately, I think that the real conversation piece here is that while many of us want and deserve the equality that we seek from the world, we have to embody those traits within our daily walk. We have to be accountable for our actions and how we treat people. We have to be accountable to each other. We also have to educate one another on our collective experiences and how they shape our own views. While I don’t think this is the absolute fix, I believe this is a start. Having those hard conversations. Sharing in the humanity. Everywhere we go in life, we introduce everyone to who we are and what we represent. We all have a job to do and we all have to pull our own weight. It is almost hypocritical for us as black people to demand equality and justice for our community but turn a blind eye to the growing number of trans people murdered in silence. To shame a person that does not fit the ideal stereotype of what a black man or woman should be. For the LGBT+ community, it is almost hypocritical for our community to demand equality and the same rights afforded to all Americans while declaring, “no Fats, no Fems, no Blacks, no Asians” on your Grindr profile. To want to be included in spaces and conversations where we aren’t wanted but turn around and exclude entire groups of people from spaces and conversations that we initially created for everyone to feel accepted without judgement.

Whenever there is a national conversation, I sometimes think to myself, which hat am I going to put on today? Which cause am I going to support? Some days, it’s a pretty easy decision. Some days, it’s a bit tougher than others. For those of us that can identify, we stand at the intersection of race and sexual identity.

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