Privilege Matters

Trivializing gay support for the family of Trayvon Martin as ''bandwagon posturing'' is insulting to LGBT people of all races

And to be clear, I am not perfect. I have said and done things in my life that can fairly be called racist. We all have, because we’re all human and we’re all fallible. My hope is that as LGBT people who face our own sets of barriers — not the same as those for race, but soul-deadening discrimination all the same — we can make more efforts to understand how racism shapes the lives of people of color.

That’s why I was glad to see a coalition of national LGBT organizations come out in support of the family of Trayvon Martin and horrified to see that stance dismissed as ”All aboard the Trayvon bandwagon” by the editor of the Washington Blade. There are fair points to be made about the appropriateness of progressive coalition-based politics; trivializing and infantilizing the reaction to the shooting death of a black teenager is not one of them. Neither is dismissing Al Sharpton as a ”pot-stirring,” ”ambulance-chasing zealot” – the kind of language generally used by racism-deniers who greet any racial incident with cries of ”Tawana Brawley!

For that matter, when anti-gay activists are pursuing political strategies designed to pit blacks against gays, it would seem this LGBT support would be a positive development, not ”bandwagon posturing.”

It is in many ways a privilege to run an LGBT publication with a national voice, and it’s one for which I’m deeply grateful. But it’s a privilege that comes with a lot of responsibility, particularly when considering the lives of LGBT people of color who feel marginalized by our community media, and with good historical reason. It’s fair for the community to expect better from all of us, and for us to expect better of ourselves.

Sean Bugg is Editor Emeritus for Metro Weekly.

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