It sometimes feels like many people are more compelled to speak up when it comes time to rationalize bigotry, rather than speaking against the bigotry, itself.
Let’s talk about how, as Black LGBTQ people, we’re expected to make room for, and be “patient” with, violent bigotry. Particularly, in a way that those trying to guilt us virtually never have to.
Despite the fact that WhiteGayze™ have subjected Black folks within the LGBTQ community to dehumanization, theft and erasure for decades, we’re still expected to perform some sort of unity, which only serves to placate their fragility. WhiteGayze™ are never expected to be patient with violent, anti-Gay bigotry towards them (although, they often are…because they’re weak as shit). But somehow, we’re supposed to be OK with their racism. Or, we’re expected to exhibit patience and explain to them why they’re trash “nicely” (i.e. in a way that’s easy to ignore). Funny how that works.
If we’re not getting it from the WhiteGayze™, we’re getting it from Black cishets (and sometimes other Black LGBTQ people, who haven’t yet put down the cishet Kool-Aid).
There’s this idea within the Black community that, as an LGBTQ person, we’re expected to give bigotry towards those identities far more room than we are bigotry towards our race. Why is that? Why is it that we’re met with virtually no resistance if we cancel a white person for saying “All Lives Matter” once, yet we get pushback for canceling Black folks who claim our very existence is a “lifestyle choice” (or worse, a mental disease) and is detrimental to Blackness, implying that we need to be eradicated? We’re bombarded with “explanations”** for why the Black community is the way it is when it comes to Black LGBTQ people, and how we have to give nuance and understanding. Yes, Black people aren’t uniquely bigoted towards LGBTQ people. Yes, the root cause of the issue is white supremacy. Yes, anti-LGBTQ violence among Black people is a result of state violence. Of course, these systems are all intertwined.
But here’s the thing: that knowledge doesn’t make bigotry from our own people sting any less. It’s still triggering, it’s still oppressive and it’s still violent. All of the intellectual explanations don’t justify it or make it better. Ultimately, we’re all still individuals who have to be held accountable for the harm we cause.
When you’re someone who sits at the intersection of more than one oppressed identity/experience, you often are put in a situation where you’re made to “pick a side”…generally, by people who only experience one of those forms of oppression. Or, they experience similar oppression but have enough privilege that they can navigate differently. Black women—Queer, Trans, and/or otherwise—are all too familiar with this.
And to be clear, I’m not saying we can’t, or shouldn’t, exhibit patience. Centering our various LGBTQ experiences within Blackness is crucial to liberation. I’m also a proponent of transformative & restorative justice. But that doesn’t mean people should be obligated to take up work that directly harms them.
It’s not so much the idea of educating and trying to reach people. What annoys me is the unspoken(?) obligation that we all must be “patient” with bigoted Black folks. If a Black LGBTQ person wants to try and earnestly engage our lost Black folks in hopes to enlighten, that’s perfectly valid. However, if someone wants to go the self-preservation route and make no room for the bullshit, that’s also 100% valid. We see examples on social media, every day, where Black cishets take the education and “patience” that we give them, and deliberately throw it back in our faces. Why should we have to make room for that? Should we really be expected to subject ourselves to constant abuse, triggers and violence, if we don’t need or want to? And on top of that, why obligate folks to do this when you’d never tell us we have to make similar space for racism?
If you think it’s so crucial and important to make room for anti-LGBTQ behavior and rhetoric, then YOU make room for it. How about you do your job as an “ally” and do the work of reaching these people? Worry less about telling us how to deal with our oppression and focus more on getting the oppressors, themselves, together.
We don’t owe you our patience. We don’t owe you our understanding. We don’t owe you our labor. But we’ll provide them if we so choose. And if you, as someone who isn’t both Black and LGBTQ, are given those things, consider it a privilege.
**And let me just add, on top of being lowkey victim-blaming, these “explanations” are often condescending as fuck. As Black LGBTQ people, even if we don’t have the academic jargon, most of us have a general idea of why the community is the way it is. We don’t need it “explained” to us every time these conversations come up. Thx.
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