Wednesday, August 5, 2015

#ITLQBM - The Erasure of Black Queer Lives in Media #HERO

Intersectionality Through the Lens of a Queer Black Man

"Take all of those factors and apply which ever resonates to you individually now add to it being out and Gay. We still have to deal with those stigmas that our heterosexual counterparts have to deal with and then some. We are attacked by those who look like us for not cosigning what I described earlier as what it means to be a strong Black man, we are told that because of who we are that we do not exist. IN FACT, we do have the same issues and then we are treated as if we are no longer Black and are still niggers in the eyes of society on a systemic and structural level."

Over the past Couple of weeks the fight to save the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance went into overdrive and that meant the mobilization of supporters and opponents alike. With that being said, queue the erasure of people of color by all sides, I mean it is so blatant! I recently recorded a video about it...

One of my biggest issues about HERO is the media coverage, where they only show specs of minorities and has been very Whitewash and Cisgender in nature. We don't see very many Trans persons, let alone Trans People of Color in recent and overall news coverage. The lack of Persons of Color being represented in this fight to protect an ordinance that is supposed to protect ALL Houstonians is a fatal flaw. We witnessed Council Member Boykins say that the LGBT community is not involved in issues pertaining to the Black community. That was a statement of erasure, erasure that I have always talked about at length. It is a big problem to be a Black man out here fighting for rights of groups that are representative of one's intersections, only to be told by both sides that "you do great work," and then be erased in the same breath. It is not a serious surprise to me that this is happening, because it always has and I for one am tired of it!

This issue has taken on national attention and with national attention comes national media coverage of various forms. One of the biggest issues that I see is that when Black and Brown people are shown at length and often, it is usually the opposition and that feeds into the idea that the Black community is inherently homophobic. The funny thing is that this isn't the first time that I had to address the issue. Last year, Outsmart magazine published an edition of its magazine with a big spread on HERO and I was pissed at the time, at the lack of People of Color. It was in that moment I started a hashtag called #BlackPeopleWhoShowUp in an effort to show that there was actually support from the Black community for HERO. Ironically I gathered all the Black folk around in the lobby of City Hall and we took pictures, which prompted the Mayor Parker to hop in  and it wound up in the news paper!

We need to see a diverse coalition representing HERO going forward, not just behind the scenes, a united front in every way possible. I testified to the existence of People of Color at the most recent council meeting:
My #HERO testimony 8/4/15 catch the shade fest...
Posted by Ashton P. Woods on Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Which brings me to the preview of the new movie about the Stonewall Riots Which is full of erasure as well. According to Wikipedia, "Very few establishments welcomed openly gay people in the 1950s and 1960s. Those that did were often bars, although bar owners and managers were rarely gay. At the time, the Stonewall Inn was owned by the Mafia.[5][6] It catered to an assortment of patrons and was known to be popular among the poorest and most marginalized people in the gay community: drag queens, representatives of the transgender community, effeminate young men, male prostitutes, and homeless youth. Police raids on gay bars were routine in the 1960s, but officers quickly lost control of the situation at the Stonewall Inn. They attracted a crowd that was incited to riot. Tensions between New York City police and gay residents of Greenwich Village erupted into more protests the next evening, and again several nights later. Within weeks, Village residents quickly organized into activist groups to concentrate efforts on establishing places for gays and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation without fear of being arrested."

The recent trailer depicts a very different vision of the Stonewall events, in the context that the events were led by Cis, White men and I guess we have to wait for the damn movie to verify whether it is inclusive or not.

To be continued...

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