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Minorities Within a Minority Group: Racism in the LGBTQ+ Community

The LGBTQ+ community seems as inclusive as people can get. Their flag is literally a rainbow. And when Pride rolls around, it’s liberating just to see everyone rejoicing and embracing each other as they parade the streets. But sometimes, looks are deceiving. The community boasts a diversity of sexualities represented by the rainbow, which is beautiful, but this vibrant diversity does not apply to the color of people’s skin.

“No Hispanics, no Blacks, no Asians” on multiple dating profiles, offensive stereotypical or patronizing remarks about race or ethnicity, as well as other forms of racial discrimination are taking their toll. According to a Stonewall study, 51 percent of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic LGBT people reported to have experienced racism within their community. For queer people of color, being in an environment that’s accepting of their sexual identity doesn’t completely free them from the shackles of society; rather, they remain less privileged than their Caucasian counterparts out of the closet. 

It’s easy to be oblivious to something if it’s under a layer. That’s exactly what this situation is subject to. Because LGBTQ+ individuals are recognized to be part of a minority group, it can be unexpected to some that racial and ethnic minorities can and do face discrimination within this community. The gay bar incidents in Philadelphia back in 2017 was just another small part of this  phenomenon exposed to the general public. 

The movie, Stonewall, directed by Roland Emmerich, was hit by a wave of online backlash addressing the movie’s lack of representation of major historical figures at the rally who were people of color, like transgender black activist Marsha P. Johnson. They were given inadequate screen time in comparison to the major influence and leadership they displayed on the actual day of the protest.

Otoja Abit as Marsha P. Johnson in Stonewall(2015).

“It’s just preference,” people might say in response to accusations of their racism after they explain that they’re “not into” certain ethnicities. And not just in the LGBTQ+ world, but for all communities, the dating scene is peppered with subtle and indirect racism and marginalization of individuals concealed by plastering “preference” on discriminatory remarks. But just like “no offense” isn’t a magic word that lifts fault along with any resulting negativity, preference is not always an excuse. Because if you’re flat-out rejecting someone based on their skin color and generalized background based on stereotypes, you’re reading off a mask and you’re disrespecting part of their identity.

The official KindrGrindr campaign logo via Grindr on Youtube.

But it’s worth acknowledging that, following criticisms from the media, people are beginning to recognize these injustices and are trying to make amends. The campaign #KindrGrindr was launched in 2018 by the popular gay dating app, Grindr, to battle the insensitive treatment that black, Asian, Middle Eastern, or Latinx users have been experiencing. And after the exposure of several discriminating gay bars in Philadelphia, 11 bars in the area were required to recieve training on the city’s anti-discrimination laws and implicit bias. Also, though a controversial solution, the city decided to add black and brown to the pride flag as a symbol of the inclusion of the “excluded” racial minorities. Despite the eyebrow-raising aspects of that change, the intention was clear: We see you, what happened to you is not right, and we are taking action. This is something we should stitch into our minds, as well as our hearts, especially as the world is revealing itself to be more colorful by the day.

Photo: via Jameson Mallari Atenta on Pexels

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