Living in black and white for too long

Posted on 22 Jan 2009 at 10:34am
By C.D. Kirven | cdkirven@aol.com

The LGBT community can’t expect the mainstream African-American community to stand for gay rights as long as LGBT people continue dividing themselves along racial lines


On the heels of the National Equality March on Washington and the passing of hate crimes legislation in the House of Representatives, I have to make a plea to my community:

We have yet to find our collective voice, and I believe that racism within the gay community has helped bog down our civil rights pursuit.

The passing of Proposition 8 in California led to a national dialogue implying the African-American community was responsible for its passage. This declaration left some in the gay community confused and hurt, because oppression is our common thread.

But I have a question: If we are equal in the gay community, why are those of color invisible in national LGBT media, on our national boards, television, films and as speakers at our national protests? We have separate Pride celebrations, magazines, books and films.

Don’t we all want the same things?

For example, I’m an activist and I tried communicating for months with national march organizers to be a speaker representing the Texas LGBT community, but all my communication was ignored.

Like me, most LGBT writers, filmmakers and artists of color struggle to be represented in our national magazines, on our television shows, films and radio programs. When was the last time you saw an African-American on the cover of a national LGBT magazine?

We can’t expect to break ground in our battle for equality unless we stop creating a subculture within a subculture.

I’ve had this discussion with other LGBT people of color, and it’s the pink elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about, because they feel they do not have the power to propel change.

I believe if we begin the conversation that we can begin to change the separate but unequal treatment of those of color within the gay community.

Pride was started as a protest during the Stonewall riots and every race as well as gender came together. Now we have separate organizations, protests, and Prides — with the same mission. But we can’t achieve our equality goals until we come together and move past our cultural differences.

Some LGBT people of color fear that there will be retaliation from those in power within the gay community if they are open and honest about the obviously disproportionate representation. If I’m blackballed because I’m openly stating the obvious, then I will live with the consequences in hopes it opens the door to a community-wide race conversation.

If you want those who are homophobic within the heterosexual African-American community to stop the discrimination insanity, please unclench your fist and extend your hand by becoming more inclusive of those of color within our community.

We shall overcome, but we need to break through the rainbow ceiling and come together in our battle against religious persecution. We were created equal but have lived in black and white way too long.

Activist C.D. Kirven is a Lambda Literary Award-nominated author of the book "What Goes Around Comes Back Around," board member of DFW Pride Movement, and an artist whose work was shown at Butch Voices Conference in Oakland, Calif., and will be in the November issue of Curve magazine. Kirven created the first LGBT cell phone documentary about same-sex intimate partner abuse. She has an online clothing line at www.zazzle.com/cdkirven and is editing her online reality show about her life called "SOULPRINT." She is currently working on a play, her second book titled "The Glass Closet" and a documentary.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 23, 2009.

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