Racial justice is an LGBTQ issue.
There’s simply no way around this. Racial justice is an LGBTQ issue.
This weekend, the unavoidable news story was Charlottesville, Virginia, and the violence that broke out around a white supremacist rally called “Unite the Right.” The rally was organized by white supremacists to protest the city of Charlottesville’s plan to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a city park.
The statue stood in the city since 1924, and in the last several years, conversations about removing the statue had been taking place in Charlottesville. And, as you might expect, the issue was deeply contentious. An article in the New York Times shared the experience of a Charlottesville city counselor, Kristen Szakos, who recalled that, after she floated the idea at a public event, she received phone and email threats. She said, “I felt like I had put a stick in the ground, and kind of ugly stuff bubbled up from it,” she said.
That’s pretty much what happened this weekend. “Ugly stuff” bubbled up when white supremacist protesters descended on Charlottesville. They carried torches, they flashed Nazi symbols, there were chants of “You will not replace us” and “Fuck you, faggots.” There were threats. There was violence. A crowd of counterprotesters were mowed down by one of the white supremacists at the unite the right rally, killing 32-year old Heather Heyer and injuring 19. Folks like Richard Spencer, the white supremacist who got clocked in the head on national TV, and David Duke, former grand wizard of the KKK who said the rally would “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump,” were in support of the Unite the Right rally – and with friends like those, who needs enemies.
Every white person has a responsibility to address racism, but LGBTQ white people have, I think, an even greater responsibility. We, as members of a marginalized community, have a responsibility to address and act against injustice, because we know what it’s like to experience it. We’ve been on the receiving end of injustice, so when we are complacent in the fight for racial justice, our complacency speaks volumes. It says not only that we don’t care about people of color, it says we don’t care about our own history, our own struggle. As queer people, we have an obligation to honor every queer person that fought for our equality by fighting for the equality of others. Period.
And you can’t care about LGBTQ people without caring about people of color. Caring about our community means caring about black queer people and Latinx queer people and Muslim queer people and Asian queer people and Indigenous queer people. They are our community, and ignoring the needs and experiences of queer people of color is nothing more than the perpetuation of racist systems in our community.
There is no justice for queer people unless there is justice for all queer people. Racial justice is an LGBTQ issue.
If you can’t get behind that – you’re supporting white supremacy. Period.