The fight is far from over, and I’m not willing to deny that.
The ability to get married to fulfill religious and cultural milestones as well as obtain the financial and possible health care benefits is something that I believe everyone should have access to, but I also feel the sting of each homeless LGBTQ+ member being represented by the face of same-sex marriage protesters–people a lot of us can’t relate to.
We’ve all seen pictures of Pride, right?
I’m not saying that non-white people don’t go to pride marches or don’t want same-sex marriage, but I am saying that I can’t help but feel a bit off when white members of our communities try to homogenize our experiences. I can’t help but feel a bit pissed when I see people praising the presence of police in our marches despite their abuse of black and brown bodies, the homeless, and definitely despite their continued abuse of trans and unconventionally presenting individuals.
For a lot of LGBTQ+ people (regardless of race, though it certainly affects POC at a higher rate), the movement isn’t about getting married.
Their “pride” is staying alive. Staying off the streets.
According to survey-based studies, 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT. 68% of those kids were kicked out of their families and homes because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Furthermore, the incidence of violence becomes much higher for queer people. It could be difficult to find a safe shelter if you’re not cis or straight, as prejudices follow you even there. For people of color, a lot of these people might have been poor to begin with. They might be denied access to help, and face different cultural pressures in response to their queerness. I once met a group of people who all claimed that it was starting to become normalized to see same-sex parents, say, strolling down the streets of Hollywood.
A friend of mine began to disagree, saying that in minority saturated places like where he lived, the culture was kind of different.
My parents are immigrants, albeit legal immigrants that ended up becoming financially stable. The problem of immigration reform is an LGBTQ+ issue as well. Too often I hear stories of people that come from other countries seeking refuge because they fear for their lives or for the scorn and reputation of their families.
People that literally came to America to survive can’t go back to visit their dying parents, or must live in fear of an entirely different monster altogether: deportation.
There is violence against trans and gender-nonconforming individuals roaming the streets freely. Intersex people are subjected to horrifying life-long procedures that try to make them fit our mold of “biologically male/female.”
All these facts of life make me more than a little detached from the same-sex marriage movement. I wholly support it, and I completely understand that we have to start somewhere and fighting for what seems like a basic right seems like a good place to start. However, for a lot of this community, they lack the basic rights of life. Poverty affects our community. Racism. Sexism.
Don’t be afraid to become intersectional in your search for LGBTQ+ rights. I encourage everyone who reads this to invest their time, money, or clothing to places that help queer people in need.
I’m not mad at the overwhelmingly middle-class face of the Pride movement. I can’t be angry. The only emotion I can conjure is sadness. Every news article about same-sex marriages brings me thoughts of all the dead trans women the police have slaughtered. It brings me a reminder of all the queer people sleeping in the cold today. Even the article that I’ve written today is a small testament to the millions of grotesque ways our community members suffer, and all of us need to start doing more to recognize those below us.
We all suffer in different measures, and I understand it’s hard to see below when you don’t even know the floor is see-through.