Tuesday, April 5, 2016

#‎GayMediaSoWhite‬ - Addressing The Erasure Of Queer People Of Color

"This hashtag isn't begging for the white man's approval. This is about the demanding answers and holding people accountable."
- Viktor Kerney

Over the last two years the media in general and more specifically LGBT media in various forms have been taken to task in regard to their erasure of People of Color, the latest action being called #‎GayMediaSoWhite. Broadly, People of Color are ignored unless they meet some odd standard of beauty, sometimes it is about specific races being ignored or erased. Locally, I had to deal with erasure from the mainstream and LGBT media when the fight to save (HERO) Houston Equal Rights Ordinance came into being. One of my biggest issues about HERO was that the media coverage would only show specs of minorities and had been very Whitewash and Cisgender in nature. We didn't see very many Trans persons, let alone Trans People of Color in any news coverage. The lack of Persons of Color being represented in this fight to protect an ordinance intended to protect ALL Houstonians was a fatal flaw. We witnessed Council Member Boykins say that the LGBT community is not involved in issues pertaining to the Black community.

Intersectionally speaking, 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. With all of the national attention came national media coverage of various forms. One of the biggest issues that I saw is that when Black and Brown people are shown at length and often, it was usually the opposition and fed into the idea that the Black community specifically is inherently homophobic.  Around the time HERO passed Houston City Council, 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!

Then we took up arms to start the #BoycottStonewallMovie movement and took Director Roland Emmerich to task.  As gay white man he directed this movie out of his desire to illustrate a historic moment in our country. He hired a gay white man to be his screenwriter and developed a fictional white gay male character to take the place of people who are well documented in literature as a protagonist. We called him on his BULLSHIT, and he did what we expect cisgender White men to do, ERASE, erase people in order to create a more comfortable REVISIONIST history.

"You have to understand one thing: I didn’t make this movie only for gay people, I made it also for straight people,” he said. “I kind of found out, in the testing process, that actually, for straight people, [Danny] is a very easy in. Danny’s very straight-acting. He gets mistreated because of that. [Straight audiences] can feel for him." - Emmerich

Emmerich released said this in response to LGBT protesters of his movie:

"When I first learned about the Stonewall Riots through my work with the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, I was struck that the circumstances that lead to LGBT youth homelessness today are pretty much the same as they were 45 years ago. The courageous actions of everyone who fought against injustice in 1969 inspired me to tell a compelling, fictionalized drama of those days centering on homeless LGBT youth, specifically a young Midwestern gay man who is kicked out of his home for his sexuality and comes to New York, befriending the people who are actively involved in the events leading up to the riots and the riots themselves. I understand that following the release of our trailer there have been initial concerns about how this character’s involvement is portrayed, but when this film – which is truly a labor of love for me – finally comes to theaters, audiences will see that it deeply honors the real-life activists who were there — including Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Ray Castro — and all the brave people who sparked the civil rights movement which continues to this day. We are all the same in our struggle for acceptance."

If our struggle was the same for acceptance, we wouldn't really be in a struggle, you are the poster boy for privilege: White, Cisgender, Male. Do not co- opt a struggle that you know nothing about, this is not to say that you don't experience homophobia, but you don't know shit about being Black, Trans or a woman and I would suggest you go and ACTUALLY learn LGBT history so that you don't keep up this theme of revisionist history. - Ashton P. Woods

In the latest social media action #‎GayMediaSoWhite, we took on the media via Twitter and called out LGBT centering publications for their clear lack of inclusion and diversity when it comes to Queer People of Color. It is more than not being featured on the covers, it is about our stories not being told unless it is through the lens of our pain by criminalizing us or exploiting our possible tragedies when we are victimized. Then we have to constantly see the cultural appropriation and our narratives being told through white lens while completely erasing our perspectives. This is is us saying that we can no longer allow these practices to take place and that we demand the respect and equality from the media that they proport themselves to represent.

 Victor Kerny the originator of the fabulous hashtag had this to say:

"Since the ‪#‎GayMediaSoWhite‬ hashtag took off, it's been amazing to see how many people got involved. And it was disheartening to the see how many people didn't say anything.
There were some folks who said we were complaining and whining, while no providing any solutions to combat this issue. I'm sorry to disappoint, but we were not complaining, we were demanding answers. All of these sites, blogs, publications and social media outlets should have an answer to as why their work does not reflect the true diversity of the LGBTQ community.

We have a right to know the truth, and regardless of the answers, we would love to hear them. The silence from these gatekeepers have been very telling. You know the lack of POC images/stories is a problem.

You can't sit up here, as a member of our community and talk about embracing our differences, when you refuse to celebrate our diversity? It's high time we called this out.
It's time for you: writers, editors gatekeepers and bloggers to step up and start doing better. You can change this, so do it!"