We’re now in the last week of June. Pride centered activities will soon be wrapping up, and although tens of thousands of event goers are having a blast, some people are wondering where exactly they stand in a community meant to welcome those who have been outcasted.
I recently came across a thread on a local lgbtq+ centered Facebook page where a gender-queer identifying person was voicing their disdain for this weekend’s events being constantly referred to as the ‘Gay Pride Festival’. Considered a valid opinion from considering that it excludes all those in our community who are not ‘gay’ whom this month also belongs to and then some. Long story short what could have easily been a healthy eye-opening discussion for those unaware of these views, turned into a semi-ugly debate that involved gas lighting and more frustration from the commenters of color.
This discussion thread prompted a couple questions: should we be coming up with an umbrella term for the community as a whole or do we just simply acknowledge everyone’s individual identities without seeking an easy cop-out? Terms such as the Gays ™, f**gots, queer(s), and sinners have all been used to refer to our community as a whole over the years. There is no official term that’s been coined, and I personally believe there should not be. An individual may reclaim a slur for themselves, but they do not have the right to [re]define it for someone else. When looking at the word queer, which has in the past been followed with shoves/punches/kicks, many will throw it around without acknowledging the culture shock between generations or the offensive implications when a cis-heterosexual refers to us as so. There are those who have adopted the term as a radical/political stance, compared to others who believe it perfectly sums up their sexual identity. Gay is a term that non-lgbtq+ folks have used to lump us all together, with queer becoming their newest phrase, however I doubt homophobes care whether their jargon is correct or not.
Cis gay white men have become the default face of the lgbtq+ movement ever since Stonewall. They saw an opportunity for their progression in society and took it; which could have been fine if it was not at the expense of Trans and Gender Non-Conforming folks. Tactics used were similar to that of the Suffragette movement: they saw an opportunity created by the hard work of people of color, took over and excluded them in order for their own agenda to progress. It is disheartening that white gays and lesbians believed that the only way for them to receive the same rights as everyone else was to exclude queer and trans folks, however the worst part of it all is that they were absolutely correct.
Today upper middle class cis gay and lesbians are the most visible and ‘accepted’ in our community by society, which in all honesty is not saying much seeing as the lgbtq+ community has faced persecution since colonialism, (and mostly because their whiteness or proximity to such is what’s recognized first) but still worth mentioning. Their death rates have somewhat dropped, whilst those of queer and trans folks have risen quite a bit. Since 2013 we’ve felt a faux sense of progression because the community as a whole we has made a fair amount of progress socially, but within ourselves there is a work a certain demographic is avoiding that needs to be done.
Many agree that we all need to learn when to take a step back, listen to those who are typically silenced, and actually do something in relation to what they’ve learned besides being defensive or telling one how to feel. We can’t truly call ourselves a community whilst alienating the ones who need the support we’re meant to offer one another. Nothing good ever comes from comparing struggles which is not the purpose of this post. Instead this should be a reminder that we all have work to do. If we the ‘despised’ made a space specifically for ourselves, would it make sense to exclude the very people we are meant to welcome?