The gay community has faced its fair share of hardship and discrimination. Why then do so many people in the gay community still discriminate against others?
Queer spaces are meant to be safe for everyone on the LGBTQ+ spectrum; gay, lesbian, trans*, non-conforming. We get upset when a bridal party takes over a gay club, and rightly so. There are still many places where it’s dangerous to be an LGBTQ+ individual in the United States, and when people come into our spaces without that understanding, they are disregarding our need for community and protection. But are these queer spaces safe for everyone in our community? Ask a person of color, and I’m betting you they’d say, “no.”
The gay community can be incredibly exclusive. If you don’t fit a certain body type, participate in certain activities, or possess a thorough library of Mean Girls quotes, you may find yourself labeled an outsider. More importantly, if you don’t present a certain skin pigment, you face the same exclusion.
It’s a habit in the gay community to place people of color in one of two categories: fetishized objects of aggressive sexual fantasy, or a dangerous threat to personal safety. You need only spend an hour in a club in the West Village or Hell’s Kitchen to see this phenomenon.
Paisley Dalton, journalist for World of Wonder recalled in an article when he was asked to leave a club when someone’s wallet was reported stolen. This sort of discrimination is all too common in gay spaces, which are meant to bring the queer community together in celebration and protection.
Asian/Pacific Islander and Black men have received the brunt of this discrimination. Stereotypes around these groups have wrongly educated society on who these individuals are, and the gay community has mostly gone along with these stereotypes. It’s easier to live in your privilege than to stand against discrimination.
Queer spaces should be safe for every queer person and their allies. Next time you’re in a club or a community group or any other queer space, notice the racial diversity of the group. If you are a member of the majority group, be open and welcoming. If you are a member of the minority group, make your voice heard. Just think, wouldn’t you rather be dancing with your queer family, regardless of race, than a group of girls out for a bachelorette party?