LGBT
15
Jan

Why not Straight Pride? Here’s why

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(Canadian Prime Minster gets into Pride spirit. AFP/Getty images)

June is officially LGBTQ Pride month, but you wouldn’t know it from the radio silence on the matter, two years running, from the White House. It’s been celebrated every year in June since 1970 after the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York.

There has been a tremendous amount of progress in the U.S. on LGBTQ rights in my lifetime. Heck, even in the last five years, despite, of course, the retrograde attitude of the White House.  Younger people, Millennials and Gen Z’s, are less likely to identify as gay or lesbian. And not because they’re closeted, as was the case back in the day. It’s because, thanks to the rights being won for LGBTQs and the idea among this cohort that sexuality is no big deal, therefore why claim to be anything?

But I don’t think we’re in a post-gay world – remember the post-racial world we had apparently entered a decade ago? And I don’t think that Pride parades are a relic of the past. Not yet. And neither does this op ed writer for USA Today.

Never has a person lost their job for being white or straight in North America, or been denied an apartment for being white and straight, or been leered at or attacked by strangers for simply holding hands with their significant others. There is a level of social and systemic privilege not afforded to many members of the LGBTQ community in North America, and certainly in many countries around the world…

Living proudly and openly in societies where your well-being (emotional, physical, professional) is constantly at risk is nothing short of brave. The fact that we are seeing more people live openly and honestly despite these challenges is a miracle.

Almost every day, we see threats made against members of the LGBTQ community. The scaling back of hard-earned rights and protections of LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people, is difficult to ignore.

Quite true. So we can scoff at Pride parades as being commodified by corporations. And there’s some truth to that. But remember when it was a big win when the first corporations co-sponsored Pride events? I do. It wasn’t all that long ago.

Rights are granted, and they can be taken away. I think it’s not a bad idea to remember that and celebrate them. And for the young or not so young LGBTQ person to find others like him/herself, proudly marching, it can be a transcendent experience.

Next time someone sneers and suggests a Straight Pride month, feel free to roll your eyes. Or, feel free to politely educate the people suggesting this. See also: Why Black Lives Matter – Why Not All Lives Matter.

 

24
Jan

Orlando and intersectionality of tragedy

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It’s been nearly two weeks since the Orlando massacre and, aside from the still raw shock and grief for many, it’s been interesting to see what’s been reported, not reported, speculated on, debunked, and used as a rallying cry for everything from gun reform to, predictably, closing the borders.

In the initial hours after the tragedy it wasn’t even clear that the shootings happened at an LGBT nightclub. The LGBT community was swift to point this out, even if the Governor of Florida appeared to go mum on that. Mainstream media followed up, mostly responsibly, covering how the horror affected the LGBT community in Orlando, and nationwide, in what is the traditional month of LGBT pride.

What has been reported on less is that it was Latin night at Pulse nightclub. What’s been covered even less than that, is who the Latin victims were. Nearly half were were Puerto Rican. And that’s devastated a community within a community within a community, as well as the island of Puerto Rico, which has had its share of economic hardships of late, and has led to an exodus of young Puerto Ricans (who are American citizens, remember) to Orlando.

From Mother Jones:

As many as 23 of those who died were identified as being Puerto Rican. Although it’s unclear how many were actually born on the island, many of the victims had family there. As they grapple with the unspeakable loss of loved ones, these families also face unusual challenges in the wake of the largest mass shooting in US history, from the potentially steep cost of burial and other expenses, to navigating the complex web of victims’ services as a Spanish-speaker with limited English.

Although pledges to help are coming from the government, advocacy organizations, and private companies, even those families who receive some assistance may struggle to cover all the costs, especially those with large extended families who may have wanted to fly in and support relatives in Orlando. “Once they arrive here to be able to claim the remains of their loved ones, it’s like where do they stay? How do they get from point A to point B?” said Samí Haiman-Marrero, a local Orlando business owner and a part of the core team of Somos Orlando (“We Are Orlando”) a coalition of organizations that formed after the tragedy to act as a bridge between families who need assistance and organizations that can help. They have connected families with resources that offer a variety of services, including housing, or grief counseling in Spanish.

Some of the issues this killing brings up are hefty burial expenses for families wanting to bury the bodies in Puerto Rico. And the longstanding taboo against homosexuality in Puerto Rico, with much more deeply ingrained machismo and homophobia than one sees in many Latino communities in the mainland U.S.

And freelance writers like Verónica Bayetti Flores say that the massacre robbed the LGBT Latinx community in Orlando, but everywhere as well, a feeling of sanctuary.

“When I’ve been in a queer club, on Latino night, I just feel whole. It feels freeing to have so many people that are sharing that experience with you, to hear rhythms that connect you back to your culture, to know that being Latino doesn’t make you any less queer, to know that being queer doesn’t make you any less Latino, and to know that we’re actually really essential part of both of those cultures.”

 

 

 

14
Jan

80 percent of LGBTs killed in U.S. are minorities

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While emotions are still raw from Sunday morning’s tragic massacre in Orlando, some important but little-known facts are emerging about other acts of violence against LGBT Americans – including murder – that happen routinely in the U.S.

Here’s one. People of color made up 80 percent of the LGBT people killed in America during 2014, according to the most recent report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

The minority LGBTQ community is disproportionately affected by crime. Why so vulnerable? A few reasons, in no particular order:

- Many minorities are closeted within their communities and many people in their communities still deny their existence.

- Many pockets of cultures still harbor fearful and violent views towards LGBT people.

- LGBT people are less likely to trust law enforcement to help them, believing it will lead to more harassment by officers. This goes doubly for LGBT people of color. This means crimes often go unreported. And perps know they will get away with them.

The U.S. has come a long way in LGBT rights, but still has a long way to go.