GLBT Privilege

Just because you’re gay, doesn’t mean you aren’t privileged.  Doesn’t mean that you don’t benefit from white privilege - if you’re white.  Doesn’t mean you don’t benefit from classist memes in our culture.  If you are gay, and by gay I mean white, male and gay, you benefit from not being thought of as a threat every time you “pass.”  Every time someone isn’t oppressing you or gay bashing you, you are #winning at the race war.  

Think about that.

How confusing is that?  On the one had you’re the scourge of the earth and on the other hand, you’re walking on water.  How is that possible?  But this is the paradox of being gay.  It comes with this mixed bag of privilege and oppression.

And if you’re a white lesbian, you also benefit from white privilege, although you also are impeded by the fact that you’re still a woman.  See, take away the gay from being a man and you still have a man, a white man, in our society.  Take away the lesbian from being a woman and you still have an (oppressed) white woman, in our society.  

So, in these organizations where being gay has become the norm - the Centers, the Theatres, the Clubs - white, gay men revert to who they actually are, privileged men.  Whereas lesbians wind up being who they actually are, oppressed women.

Being white and lesbian and female, means that no matter what, we are oppressed - if not for being lesbian, then for being a woman.  Being black and lesbian and female means that there is absolutely no way to escape the oppression.  And I wonder if the oppression is greater for being black or being a lesbian.  Being brown and lesbian and female and uneducated is an honest-to-goodness locked trap in our culture.  

I think we don’t talk about privilege in the LGBT community enough.  Like how a transwoman who is white and straight has more privilege in her life than a brown lesbian.  Everyone knows this is the case, but no one talks about it.  Privilege is a sensitive topic because no one, not one person, wants to admit that they are privileged.

Well, I am privileged.  I am privileged because of my extensive education, because of my financial acumen and because of my ability to pass as an “other” who “might/could be white.”  I do not know what my brown and black brothers and sisters go through on the daily when they hold hands with their partners, pecking them on the cheek, hugging them in full view of the street.  I want to know what we all in the LGBTQ community can do to make the Community a safer more welcoming place for people of all ethnicities and nationalities.  

Most of the LGBTQ Centers I’ve visited throughout the country are predominantly white.  Run by white gay and lesbian people, with great hearts and pale skin.  I wonder how many more POC (people of color) would enter through their doors if they say a POC in charge.  Maybe there is something essential we’re missing in our programming.  Maybe we’re only programming for what we know, those of us who are white or taken for white and are in charge of such things.

How will we ever bring together people from all walks and talks in the community, if we don’t ask the hard questions?

How are the organizations that are run by people of privilege, again with good hearts, but a possibly limited view, not serving you?  

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