Bil Browning

Short interviews on race relations in the LGBT community

Filed By Bil Browning | January 29, 2009 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Creating Change conference, LGBT racism, race relations, racism in the LGBT community

Yesterday's sessions at Creating Change were about racial issues in the LGBT community. (See Jerame and Waymon's posts for more in depth info on the different group sessions they each attended.) I spent some time yesterday afternoon asking attendees to talk about their experiences with me.

I asked all of the people the same four questions. I found it fascinating to hear the same refrain from the different ethnicities. All had faced discrimination from the LGBT community and all of them thought race relations in the LGBT community sucked.

Check them out after the jump.

Reid Uratani



Monique Wright



Manish Vaidya


Manju Rajendran



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Define LGBT community. Within the LGBT community there are many identifiable "sub-communities" - the leather community, the Bear community, the chubby community, the lesbian community, the bisexual community, the transgender community, the drag community, the rave community, HIV- community, HIV + and so on---each of which represents a sub-demographic of the "gay community" at large. Do these young people mingle with bi-sexuals, transgender people? When referred to as "gay community", Bil may be referring to gays and lesbians or only to gay men. Is Indianapolis the community? Are they speaking from their own experiences or local negative reactions from gay and lesbians ? Discrimination at the conference ? In the deep south, in Vermont, In Hawaii, In India, In Pakistan?

I'm sorry this was difficult for you, Charles. LGBT community means the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community - that's it. If I'd meant the "chubby community" or "rave community," I'd have said that specifically. Since the various folks being interviewed all had their hometowns next to their names, I thought it would be clear that I wasn't asking them if they'd experienced racial discrimination in Indianapolis. I wasn't asking about any specific place - just if they'd experienced racial discrimination from the LGBT community.

HRC thinks it is the LGBT community. NGLTF thinks it is the LGBT community. You have to be more specific by asking if they have been discriminated by the LGBT community (that usually means gay centers)in the area where they live or in their travels. Seems simple enough to me.

Seriously, Charles? HRC thinks it is the entire community? I think trans folk would argue that vociferously with you! And I don't think I've ever heard an LGBT center defined as the entire LGBT community. It seems pretty clear to me - and everyone else got it just fine. *shrugs*

The question now is - Do you have anything constructive to say about the actual interviews where four young people are telling you they've been discriminated against by LGBT folks? Or would you rather just quibble over the two words "LGBT community"? Because if you're just here to troll for reactions to inane complaints, there's no need to respond to you any longer.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | January 29, 2009 2:32 PM

Look at you Bil getting your Katie Couric on!

Race relations within the LGBT community are as we say on Facebook "complicated."

I live in D.C. which is 57% African-American yet the overwhelming majority of local LGBT groups are predominately white. When question about that reality, most whites that I have talked to say "nothing's stopping them from joining" as if those of us who are Black and LGBT are a "them" rather than part of "us."

I don't even pretend to know what the solutions are to the racial divisions within the LGBT community. I do know that it is critical that we figure out something that works.

lolz @ the Facebook reference.

When question about that reality, most whites that I have talked to say "nothing's stopping them from joining"

I hate that line.

Sure nothing is "stopping them from joining" - except when groups like GLOV suggest that the solution to anti-queer violence lies partially in more police intervention in communities where police commit the crimes, and reliance on a prison industrial complex that breaks up families and furthers the cycle of violence and exploitation. I'm sorry, but "Call 911" isn't a valid option for a lot of people in this city.

There are groups in DC dedicated to creating safe communities and streets in ways that don’t center on the police and prisons. I’d like to see GLOV reach out to them, and engage in anti-violence work that is informed and driven by the lived experiences of queer people of color.

Bil
Thanks for doing the interviews. Sorry you think I am a trol. That certainly is not the intention of my questions. I just wanted to know more in depth. The answers seemed very general to me. The reason I asked was to get a sense of racism in Hawaii as compared to Vermont, ect. My dentist is Asian and a lesbian and she said people call her and are rude telling her to go back to Indonesia. It's because she is Asian she said not her sexual orientation. This is in Palm Springs with a big LGBT population. Seems to me that a broad discription of the "LGBT COMMUNITY" with all it's diversity of groups is confusing when you ask "Have you experinced racism from the LGBT community. I wanted to hear more from the interviews had you asked which goup in the LGBT community discriminated against you ? Personal experiences with what LGBT group. Was it white gay men, black lesbians, Asian transgender people ect?

Then I owe you an apology, Charles. I thought you were just trying to quibble. I'd briefly seen some of the other comments on coverage of the race relations sessions and assumed the worst. I apologize.

I only had about 10 minutes to do all four interviews so the questions were rather general. My question was specific to the folks being interviewed. I wanted to know if they had been discriminated against by another LGBT person because of their race.

One thing we can agree on? I wish I'd had more time to interview them too. :) Some of the other interviews I've got queueing up are much more in depth.

I've been saying race relations in the GLBT community sucked for years. Now people are starting to listen.

This isn't a bad subject to investigate, but why stop at discrimination against those of "color"? There's a lot of tangible discrimination from the GLBT community (communities) against Caucasians, Jews, Catholics, Irish, and (sometimes) Protestant Christians. (With all due respect to Charles Merrill, a lot of that depends on geography, but still..)

P.S. : Ask Manju Rajendran if she thinks race relations were improved by her stint in Durham, N.C., in 2006, screaming into the megaphone for the heads of the white-male Duke lacrosse rapists, amongst other things. She has some nerve opening her mouth on any subject regarding discrimination.

How is there discrimination against whites in the GLBT community when most of the organizations are made up of PREDOMINATELY white people?

(Shaking my head)

I can answer this one, Monica.

Here in Indy a few years ago, the GLBT-POC's started a Black Indy Pride group. Even though I'm white, I thought to group was a great idea, and I attended a few meetings. It became clear that my support wasn't desired, which I was prepared for. (Unless I happened to be rich and willing to write some big checks --- Those are my assumptions, at least, they never put it into those words.)

The group did not "discriminate" against me, they simply failed to make a place in the group for whites who wanted to support, to define that role and still keep the group a Black-run group (and I agree a group initiated by Blacks to benefit Blacks should be run by Blacks). After I couldn't find a constructive way to participate, I decided the most constructive thing to do is to just quit going, and let the group be whatever it wants to be.

The experience was eye-opening, because now I understand a bit more why Blacks find it so difficult to be part of mostly-white groups, even if "there isn't anything stopping them from joining." But I don't understand why Blacks don't form their own community groups more often than they actually do, because it seems like the need is there.

The case is that this LGBTQ is a microcosm of the general society which has had separate groups for blacks, whites, asians etc. Before modernity I will draw a line at slavery in this country the slaves had to create their own churches because they were not welcome to participate in established churches. Due to the mindset people were in at the time.

Charles is right about the complex issues in race today people may be subject to racism in general population and while they may be of color the racism may be in one arena the general social arena such as hearing 'why don't you go back to your country"with or without the corresponding racial slur"'when being addressed by a white person such as happened to his dentist in Palm Springs. That is ignorance from the mouth of a person born here and harboring such ideas. That language may not have been directed at the dentist because she was LGBTQ but only because she was south Asian.

I got that the man from SF was probably talking about SF but you never know since he didn't preface it with being in SF. His experience was speaking about being in the LGBTQ community and specifically being south Asian.

The woman from VT did speak that her experience was that discrimination came in the form of being not included in things by being a lesbian of color.

The woman from IL spoke feeling that exclusion from regular LGBTQ because of her racial identity and sexual expression. it all comes to people of color in four different areas in the US feeling excluded in LGBTQ groups unless it was profitable to the agenda of the various LGBTQ groups agendas.

Weirdly enough it is the mentality to say you can come join but be a part of our mindset, not that we want to embrace you, you come be apart of our agenda. Come join us if you want to but be prepared to become one of us. That is not inclusive. That is not the LGBTQ saying I want to see you and embrace you because you are Human and deserve respect and I value your differences. we are alike because we are human, we are alike because we are queer.

It is still the regurgitation of the general population you come join us not we embrace you. It is still them and us which is what the argument has been. People of privilege having people of color join them and not changing the mindset but having them become part of the mindset.

AJ I applaud your going to the meetings of the Indy Black Pride group. I know you see what it really means and you understand what it is now to feel like an outsider because of a racial mindset. That group started because they didn't feel included in the general LGBTQ pride because of the fact they are of color. The sad part is that LGBTQ people of color have to make a separate group because of the alien feeling by the LGBTQ mindset.

The fact that you left because you were not included is what people of color have been saying in the LGBTQ community at large for a long time.

as LGBTQ we are already a minority in America without having to bring race into it yet we as LGBTQ reflect the same habits mindset of the larger community to a fault. we are separate because of race. yes we may or may not have the same sexual expression but we do not come together and LGBTQ is seen as mainly white folks and not addressing the issue that no matter what race we are all queer which should be the platform not simply well you could join no one is stopping you as long as you become one of us in mindset.

We should not have to have these separate groups but they are necessary as long as the racial mindset is prevalent.

The LGBTQ sexual exotic mindset looks at the other person as other and exciting sexually but still goes to have a mindset that as along as they are sexual it is ok but other than that there is no arena worth being together in.

There are people who might find another racially different human physically attractive without the exoticism. after all it is another human body. people of color mainly find sexual exoticism belittling. because it means you only have value as an objectfied person not as a human in general.
or it is only good as long as it is in the arena of sex but not equals otherwise.

Many times the buzz word answers speak to unexamined ignorance such as a discriminatory exclusion as "I'm attracted to my own kind only". Why is that they are only attracted to their own kind? they harbor that as a safe place and even in that their may be further distinctive such as their own kind may be thin blonde muscular, of tall brunette wavy chisled features let us not forget the penis size preference, for example. people say what they do to exclude and feel perfectly justified in saying it even if it sounds ignorant. They feel entitled privileged and don't bother to examine why.

is it because the people who say those things know that they don't have to change?

as an LGBTQ of color I have seen it heard it by those LGBTQ who are small minded, and met folks who are LGBTQ and not prejudiced nor exotic hunters. I think the importance is to have the community understand that we are not high school nor grade school where we have learned values from our parents and didn't have to examine. now that we are adults we must examine and get over the things taught if they are discriminatory and move on to see what needs to be fixed and get to fixing them so we can be a cohesive group.

btw race has been a social construct and handed down decade after decade through some centuries though it is not a scientific fact. and in fact science has debunked it with DNA but people still hold on to the antiquated mental construct because they can and feel they cannot let go of it. it is like when term gay was no longer looked at as a mental illness slowly but slowly people came on board but this race thing has yet to die in the minds of people. You see a different pigmentation but what is they really? a genetic biologist will tell you that the color is not even a part of the make up and it is superficial at best. but because folks have to have something to feel superior with race is clung to like a bad habit, an addiction which poisons.

James:

I copied a couple of the paragraphs you wrote that really struck me. They're great, and then I realized I don't fully understand them which could be a part of the problem. Can you give me an example of what it would look like for a group of white people to fully embrace you? That is, without being creepy...

And, how are white people sending messages that say, "You can join us, but be prepared to become one of us"? I have a feeling many of us don't realize we're doing this.

Thank you!

James said:

Weirdly enough it is the mentality to say you can come join but be a part of our mindset, not that we want to embrace you, you come be apart of our agenda. Come join us if you want to but be prepared to become one of us. That is not inclusive. That is not the LGBTQ saying I want to see you and embrace you because you are Human and deserve respect and I value your differences. we are alike because we are human, we are alike because we are queer.

It is still the regurgitation of the general population you come join us not we embrace you. It is still them and us which is what the argument has been. People of privilege having people of color join them and not changing the mindset but having them become part of the mindset.