being black and queer

Y’all, being Black and queer in the United States is no easy feat.

Of course, there are more identities at work within me, but it’s these two that have been more relevant lately. The recent racist terrorism primarily directed at Black churches in the South and the biblically inspired opposition to the legalization of marriage equality have hit very close to home.

Needless to say, I’m also a Christian, so these two weren’t just knocking on my front door—they were sitting with me in the bed!

Admittedly, I maintain my share of privileges too as a man with some legitimate educational achievement, so I recognize that my vulnerability in these contexts could be even higher. There’s still plenty to overcome though as I consider the overall outcomes of people in this group.

Some months ago, a friend of mine shared this blog post with me that basically asks if it’s anti-Black to be pro-gay marriage, and the author does a great job of thinking about the experiences of queer people of color.

For those that don’t read the aforementioned blog post, I’ll attempt to summarize for you while recommending that you at least skim it when you have a chance.

The author makes a critical point about how the cause of marriage equality has been advocated to such an extent that essential issues for the LGBTQ community as a whole, particularly for people of color, issues like housing, health care, employment, education, violence, and more have been pretty much neglected in majority spaces.

Note: this is one reason why you can’t always compare oppressed groups. One might assume that LGBTQ folks (and other oppressed groups) are great advocates against racism, and yet the racist aggressions abound in queer-friendly spaces too.

Example: On the same day the SCOTUS voted for marriage equality, President Obama eulogized Sen. Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the Emanuel AME victims in Charleston. Smack dab deep in the middle of processing more Black death, folks were celebrating in mass about how love was winning.

Imagine my internal conflict.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m down for the marriage equality cause; I’m all for taking steps towards more equitable policy and practice for everybody.

That’s exactly why I was conflicted because while folks have decked their profile pictures with rainbow themes and marriage equality got national attention, Black churches were burned down and Black pastors have gotten death threats, and not many people were noticing.

It’s hard to celebrate wholly and be for everybody when these are the facts.

Honestly, I can’t help but think that White people will likely benefit most from marriage equality and that this is actually NOT the most equitable thing that needs to be done. Majority spaces are often, if not always, Whiter and wealthier, so the LGBTQ people who occupy those spaces organized around marriage equality because it was one system of privilege that they couldn’t obtain.

Let’s be clear though– the vulnerability and need of White people in this country as a group will always be lower than those of people groups of color.

Let the record state and show that it has always been and continues to be more than sufficiently challenging to be a person of color in this White supremacist system that we inhabit. And by adding queerness to a heteronormative, patriarchal society, the oppression intersects with more oppression for the Black people who don’t identify with this status quo.

So please believe me when I say, being Black and queer is no easy feat!

For instance, I recently learned of a fund raiser for a 19 year-old who is Black and queer, and sadly, I’ve heard of too many stories like this that make resilience seem like such a gross understatement. This person has been abandoned by family, had to drop out of college, and is basically GOING THROUGH right now.

I empathize with this kid so much because this story could have easily been my story, so I’m doing what I can to give this the attention that it deserves. Please check out the link, read the content, and give what you can to help!

Let’s make a difference for this person and ensure that love wins for this Black queer human being!

Love Love Love,

Jesse

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