Something jaw-dropping happened to me over this past weekend. “Y’all need to control your people – black lives matter just blocked the gay pride parade in DC!” a white LGBTQ friend messaged me Saturday afternoon.
As nearly everyone knows, this was an epically eventful weekend on a national level. For starters, a campaign was launched to change what everybody knows as the global symbol for LGBTQ Pride, the Rainbow Flag. An organization in Philadelphia called More Color More Pride designed an update to the flag which included additional black and brown stripes to accompany the traditional ROYGBV colors we are all familiar with. The two news colors are meant to recognize LGBTQ people of color who are credited with starting the movement for LGBTQ rights yet today are largely marginalized. More on that later.
Most notable though, this past weekend saw a historic march on Washington for LGBTQ rights as part of the D.C. Pride Weekend celebrations. Chief among the march’s goals was recognition by the Trump administration in the National Census.
Also part of the D.C. Pride Weekend celebrations was the Capitol Pride Parade which took place on Saturday. What was supposed to a relatively care-free display for many of the paraders took a turn, figuratively and literally, as the the procession was halted by a separate protest.
The group No Justice No Pride banded together and blocked the planned route for the Pride Parade resulting in an hour long delay. The parade was eventually rerouted and continued to its conclusion but not before an eruption of contempt was released by the Pride Marchers.
It was at this moment my phone started going off with an avalanche of alerts. The first wave of messages was more informative and kicked off constructive discussion between myself and two close friends of mine, one Hispanic male at the parade and another Asian American male at a similar march in Los Angeles. The other alerts I received, most notably the one saying I need to control “my people” I prefaced with as well as proclamations that Pride Marchers were allies to the Black Movement and these actions would burn bridges, were not so.
I am held responsible for every action of every black person
Perhaps because I am an outspoken black man identifying as LGBTQ, many thought I should be the metaphoric lightening-rod for their anger. Or maybe because I’m the only real black male some actually converse with in a greater sense than greeting while passing by, they thought I should be their conduit for answers. I don’t know.
When the misinformation broke that the Black Lives Matter movement chained themselves across the parade route, I was needed to speak for every black person around and scolded for not understanding that the actions of ONE falsely identified group would alone ruin any alliance formed between LGBTQ people and blacks according to gay white men.
This wouldn’t be the first time I was asked to answer for or defend the black voice against gay men, most often white.
First, to make anybody answer for actions other than their own, let alone for an entire group of people is an attempt at repression. Pointedly, it’s only ever people of color who are asked to do so.
Further, as I alluded to, many people falsely assumed the disruption was caused by Black Lives Matter. The group staging the counter protest was No Justice No Pride and are a separate group entirely. NJNP has a specific stance on why they felt the need to counter protest which you can read about here. Their concerns are legitimate and reason enough for staging their counter protest. More so, their counter protest was effective. It brought to light their agenda to a greater audience. As I stated to my Hispanic friend at the Pride Parade, they didn’t harm anybody, they didn’t stop the parade, they simply made you take notice; precisely their intention.
Black people have been marginalized from the broader LGBTQ community
Now in regards to the Pride Parade and the LGBTQ Rights movement being an ally to black people and our push for justice to whom we’ve alienated I say this: for a movement which was started by people of color, take a look at who participated in the Pride March and what the LGBTQ movement has become.
Search Facebook photos with the hashtag #PrideMarch and count the number of photos you must scroll through to count twenty black marchers. In the possibly thousands of people in the photos, I counted only five black people through the first 100 photos.
To have a movement so under represented by a demographic speaks volumes to what is happening within the movement and community as a whole. Black people in large numbers do not feel connected to the LGBTQ rights movement and often worse, feel mistreated, neglected, marginalized and even repressed within the gay community.
Countless examples come to mind just in recent memory, namely the Rebar’s alleged racist door policy, the lack of people of color on commercial flyers and advertisements as seen in the WE Pride photo series, as well as the infamous “just not into blacks” preference that seems to permeate our community. For every incident someone writes off as invalid, Rebar’s statement refuting the allegations against their door policy as just a misunderstanding for instance, many more can replace it. There are deep issues affecting the gay community with regards to race. It’s undeniable.
Adding two stripes to the Pride flag opened a dialogue
So perhaps the mild inconvenience posed by No Justice No Pride to the Pride March that created the uproar was rightfully needed. Maybe those two extra colors on the Pride Flag More Color More Pride should be a welcome design?
In just the two days since, the blowback against the new design has been explosive. The Pride Flag, according to some, has always been and shall always remain as it was. Black and brown people shouldn’t get to go “galavanting around with entitlement” as one person has commented, for “other breeds of gays” like trans don’t do it and then we’d have to accommodate them too. Despite the plethora of varying pride flags already available like the Genderfluid Pride flag, it remains many people’s argument. We’ve all heard this argument before in many forms attempting to fight many different ways of progress.
OutBuzz received an avalanche of comments after posting this to its Facebook Page.
A group of people within the gay community feels marginalized in a city where the owner of a popular gay bar was recorded calling blacks “niggers”.
A similar group feels the concerns of queer and trans people of color have fallen to the side in favor of entities that do harm to LGBTQ people and those of color.
I, as a black LGBTQ male, do feel marginalized and treated as less than amongst my peers. I’ve had people I’ve initiated a conversation with push back with “Eww you’re black” on dating apps and even friends say “I’d be so hot if I were white”. IF.
We always say we need to push for change and not live by yesterday’s status quo. We also preach inclusiveness. Lending an ear to concerns of others.
People are talking and wanting to be included. This is an opportunity to openly listen.