Imagine being not only African-American, but Lesbian, or Gay, or Trans, or Bi, in this country as well. A nice double-whammy, isn’t it? Not only do you face discrimination and bigotry for being Black, but for being Queer too?! Sad, but yes, it does happen. LGBT African-Americans not only face racial and homophobic discrimination and bigotry from hetero whites and blacks, but sometimes and unfortunately even from the white LGBT Community as well. Hard to believe that some people of the LGBT Community would divide themselves and even discriminate amongst themselves, as they already have a whole population homophobic bigots with more than plenty of political power to reduce their already few civil rights to nothing. Fortunately, a majority of LGBT people could care less about the color of one’s skin or their ethnicity, as vitriolic homophobia appears to be on the rise within our society and political atmosphere, and is taking precedence over small differences such as race or ethnicity. However, though race and ethnicity may seem like small differences, they still matter here in America,…and who you sleep and fall in love with also matters. Still, some LGBT African-Americans are encountering racial discrimination within the LGBT Community and a lack of representation, as this article from The Black Commentator details…
[...]…As Black gay pride organizers scramble to provide comprehensive cultural celebrations for their thousands of anticipated guests this year, the [Miami] Herald’s top ten list was a slap in the face and further feeds into the notion that gay and now gay pride is white.
The International Federation of Black Prides is home to 25 Black gay pride celebrations, including Toronto and South Africa. These cultural celebrations are flocked to each year by thousands of Black same-gender loving persons are all over the country, some with a cult following…[...]
These celebrations each typically bring in around 10,000 people that are culturally diverse, socially active, event loyal, frequent travelers and beauty, health, fitness and fashion conscious. Given all of these facts, why then do Black prides still receive less financial support than their white counterparts?
A look at the websites of the Herald’s top ten picks shows financial support from Delta Airlines, Travelocity, Absolute Vodka, Gay.com, Showtime, Starbucks, Bud Light, Bank of America, PlanetOut.com, Hertz, Virgin and more. But take a closer look at who is sponsoring Black pride celebrations.
Black pride organizations cater to the Black gay community and unfortunately, this community is still being affected in large numbers by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. So it’s only obvious that pharmaceutical companies and AIDS service organizations would want to sponsor events where they can target a high number of Black gays with their message. However, there is so much more to the Black gay community than HIV/AIDS prevention. We dine out, read the newspaper, watch television, travel, buy clothes, and are included in the overall contributions of African-Americans to the U.S. economy.
In addition, it’s not just at the corporate level that companies do not sponsor Black gay pride celebrations. Many elected officials shun off Black pride celebrations to their health deputy’s (HIV/AIDS) instead of to their city’s cultural affairs office where these celebrations should be getting support from as well. Like Black film festivals that highlight Blacks in the filmmaking business, Black gay pride celebrations are cultural events that celebrate the uniqueness of being Black and gay. So that should open up a plethora of sponsorship opportunities for Black gay prides, not only from the companies listed above but from Viacom who owns Black Entertainment Television, TVOne, RadioOne, Ebony, JET, ESSENCE, Walmart, Target, NAACP, Urban League, music labels, and other businesses that thrive off of Black dollars.
I once had a corporate marketing executive tell me that they sponsored a Black film festival and sponsored a gay pride celebration so they didn’t see the need to sponsor a Black gay pride. In their minds, Black was straight and gay was white and there was nothing in between. Sadly, that’s the misinformed thinking of many corporate executives when it comes to marketing.
The irony in all of this is that at most white gay pride celebrations, you see about a handful of Blacks. In a recent poll, Black gays were asked, if given a choice would you attend a white pride celebration or a Black pride celebration. An overwhelming number of those polled indicated that they would attend their Black pride celebration.
If white Conservative Christian evangelicals can see the value in marketing to straight Blacks regarding gay marriage, why can’t companies see the value in marketing to Black gays?
So while, the Miami Herald probably boosted the incoming sponsorship dollars for the 10 prides it listed in its article, it did a disservice to people of color gay prides across the nation and further fed into corporate America’s notion that gay is white.
Well we do have a tendency to hold white as the default race in this country. Old habits die hard. I just love how this is about marketing and appeasing corporate sponsors. Thanks consumer-based economy. I also find it disturbing that there’s a sense that you, as a LGBT African-American (or any racial or ethnic minority), must choose between either racial/ethnic pride or LGBT pride. You can’t be both, according certain individuals. I don’t buy that b.s. for a moment. I suppose it’s just our country’s legacy and “tradition” of racism, being carried on into new sociopolitical movements such as LGBT civil rights. Of course, those perpetrating the racial discrimination and bigotry within the LGBT Community do not represent LGBT people as a whole. It’s only a few individuals, not the entire LGBT Community. But it only takes a few to screw it up for everyone else, and alienate a group of people (ie: LGBT Blacks) from the entire community.
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