Dragonflies say this year’s parade theme outlines the need to examine the issue of minority subgroups within our own LGBT community
On Sunday, the Dragonflies of Dallas will be walking down Cedar Springs Avenue as a proud nonexclusive “gay Asian and friends group.” This year’s parade theme, “Pride – Not Prejudice,” not only echoes the importance of continued awareness and dialogue regarding issues facing the LGBT community, it also outlines the need to examine the issues of minority subgroups within our LGBT community.
One issue that ought to be specifically addressed is on whether there are prejudices against racial and ethnic minority groups within the LGBT community.
Prejudice, as defined by most dictionaries, is a preconceived or premature judgment directed against an individual, a group or a race. Although the term may be used in a neutral or positive manner, the results are often unwelcome, negative and derogatory.
Often times, prejudices are derived from a person’s unawareness about, inexperience with or misconceptions about a particular individual, group or a race of people. Most of the time, prejudice is subconscious. Ironically, everyone at one point or another may be guilty of being prejudice to a certain degree.
Today, prejudice against gay Asians exist and are much more prevalent within the LGBT community than ever before. Such prejudice may exist in the subtle form of stereotypes, or it may manifest itself in more overt and discriminatory ways.
An example of a subtle form of prejudice may include making presumptions that all gay Asians have a tendency to be indirect, youthful, effeminate, thin, indecisive, less assertive, submissive or cliquish. More overt ways include singling out, disassociating from, discriminating against or verbally placing labels on a gay Asian person thereby relegating them to outsider status.
Although the gay Asian “experience” may not be the same for all, there is a common thread of prejudice that exists. This prejudice does not come from one group or community, but from a variety of sources.
A gay Asian male or female may find himself or herself struggling back and forth between prejudices in the majority community, their Asian community, within the LGBT community and even from other gay-identified Asian men and women.
To most, the quest of finding self identity is hindered by the “double disadvantage” of standing in between being both gay and Asian.
It is not surprising that the perpetration of prejudices within the LGBT community may be harmful not only to the individual, but also to the LGBT community, as well. A person or group who is a target of prejudice may disassociate themselves from the community, refraining from active participation in LGBT causes and events.
From an outsider’s perspective, the LGBT community may be seen as a community of dissension if members within are not united in embracing differences.
The LGBT community is arguably one of the most diverse minority groups in the world.
The reason is because sexual orientation is inclusive and independent of racial, ethnic, gender, cultural, religious and economic status. Because of such diversity and the increasing opposition against us in the political forum, it is vital that our community is seen as a united group.
The existence of the LGBT community as an effective and meaningful community largely depends on the ability of its members to accept and embrace the diversity of all of its members. From a racial perspective, this includes acceptance of all LGBT individuals, even those who happen to be Asian, Pacific Islander, black, Hispanic, Native American Indian or from any other non-white backgrounds.
Because racial prejudice targets qualities that a person has no control over, we in the LGBT community, should strive eradicate it. To do any less is hypocritical and counterproductive.
The opportunities for replacing prejudice with pride are limitless not to mention pretty inexpensive.
A great way to combat prejudices within the LGBT community is to first acknowledge its existence and then to devise a plan of action to counter its existence.
Fostering discussion and dialogue within the LGBT community is a healthy way to counter prejudices. It just takes a little awareness, understanding, compassion, and sensibility to make a big difference.
This year, the parade’s theme should serve as a reminder to us of how similar we all really are.
On Sunday, let’s not walk down Cedar Springs Ave with pride in who we are and where we are from for only one day. Let’s breathe and live our lives with pride and without prejudice everyday thereafter.
The Dragonflies of Dallas is a nonexclusive social and support group for gay Asians, Pacific Islanders, and friends, it has existed in DFW since 1994. The organization strives to promote awareness, visibility and acceptance of gay API sexuality. For information, go to www.dragonfliesofdallas.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, September 15, 2006.