Don’t Forget About Race In LGBT Activism

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Guestblogger Lucas McKeever from the graduate School of Information Science at the University of Illinois blogs about silence and prejudice in social movements.

Lucas and Shawn

Photo: Jennifer Bass

The author Lucas McKeever and Library Public Services Manager Shawn Wilson in the Kinsey Library.

It is common to hear that we are now living in a “color-blind” society, a claim that racial discrimination or a privileging of light skin over dark is no longer a central issue.  Of course, often these claims are coming from individuals who do not have the skin color, name, language, or any combination of these identifiers that would mark their body as non-white.  The manifestation of color-blindness is the inability, or unwillingness, to actually discuss issues surrounding race. Instead, these conversations are avoided through silence or the individual who expresses their lived experience of these “non-existent” issues is dismissed and cut short through the claim that they are simply “playing the race card.”  As we have seen recently with the case of the killing of Trayvon Martin, immigration laws, and the legal standing of ethnic-studies programs, to name a few, it is clear that race is still an issue within the U.S.  Regardless of which position an individual takes on any of these examples, the very existence of these debates confirms the continued presence of race as a point of conflict. This is, however, not unique to the larger society as a whole.

Within social movements of all types, there have been populations left out of the scope of demands.  One of my favorite authors is Cherríe Moraga, and she explains how it feels to be a minority within the minority movements. She states that the Chicana woman, “must fight racism alongside her man, but challenge sexism single-handedly” (98-99).   When describing the feminist movement, and its lack of race as a central issue, she says, “if race and class oppress the woman of color as much as her sexual identity, then the Radical Feminist must extend her own ‘identity’ politics to include her ‘identity’ as oppressor as well” (119).    Through these examples, we see specific instances where individuals possessing identities within multiple marginalized communities can often feel as though the issues they face are not accurately being addressed.   The gay rights movement is no exception.

At The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, there is an understanding that there are many social factors that go into the formation of sexual identities, including race.  Because of this, it is important that resources specific to these experiences are made available to youth who may not find the support they need from the mainstream gay rights movement.

I have assembled a list of websites for LGBT youth of color in hopes that finding a community sensitive to the intersections of race and sexuality will be made possible, even if it is not something available to them on a local level.  In addition, many of these resources can be used by schools and community youth centers to better provide for the needs of their LGBT youth of color populations.  This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather a starting point for anyone with these specific information or social support needs.  None of the websites listed are run by or monitored by The Kinsey Institute, so the viewpoints and information expressed does not necessarily represent The Kinsey Institute’s stance.  It is, however, our responsibility and desire as an institution invested in sex, gender, and reproduction to provide resources for all, not only dominant society.

Moraga, Cherríe. “A Long Line of Vendidas.” Loving in the War Years: Lo Que Nunca Pasó por Sus Labios. Cambridge: South End Press, 2000.  82-133

Guestblogger Lucas McKeever from the graduate School of Information Science at the University of Illinois blogs about silence and prejudice in social movements.

Rosalyn Sternberg

is an intern at the Kinsey Institute and a contributor to Kinsey Confidential. She is a senior at the University of California, Berkeley with a major in Gender and Women's Studies.
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