The New Color of Pride?

Over the last week I’ve seen several articles regarding a change to the rainbow flag, the instantly recognizable symbol of unity for the LGBT+ community.  The change, while seemingly minor, has started a heated debate within the community, of which I found myself getting involved in.  The change is a simple addition of brown and black stripes to the top of the traditional rainbow flag, which is meant to represent people of color within the LGBT+ community.  Upon first reading about the change, I found myself completely against the idea, and I argued that way.  I even had a few arguments that I felt were quite logical, which I’ll go over now:

  1. The rainbow flag is meant as a symbol for sexuality / gender identity minorities.  It’s not about race.  Bigotry against both racial minorities and those of sexuality and gender identity is extremely prevalent in our society, but nevertheless they are still separate issues.  Combining the two will inevitably cause one issue to be overshadowed by the other, and due to the fact that a majority of those within the LGBT+ community are white, I can’t help but fear that it will be the racial minorities that are overshadowed and left out, with blatant racism being ignored.  
  2. We shouldn’t allow bigoted people to force LGBT+ people of color out of the community.  The rainbow flag is meant to be a sign of pride and equality for all LGBT+ people and creating a new symbol gives those that are hateful a big win.  It says “fine, take the rainbow flag, we’ll go make our own.”  
  3. Racism isn’t exclusive to the LGBT+ community, so only focusing on the racism within its boundaries is far too limited.  We should be attacking the plague of racism in all of our communities, and working to drive it out to change our society so that racism isn’t acceptable any longer.  

As I said, to me, these arguments seemed completely logical… They still seem completely logical, but they just aren’t strong enough arguments to deny that something needs to be done. If making even a small change makes people of color and other minorities feel more included, then why not make the change?  What’s the harm? The argument, my own argument, that began to make me rethink my stance was number 3.  Racism isn’t exclusive to the LGBT+ community.  It’s a problem that plagues the entire country, if not the world, as Donald Trump’s rise to power has shown us.  It definitely needs to be fought on a much larger scale, but that is an even better reason to start “small”, right here inside our own community.  Mahatma Ghandi said be the change you want to see in the world” and starting small, changing the way our community presents itself to those in the outside world, in order to make it a better place for everyone, is the best way to start.  If we can’t end racism within our own community how in the world can we expect to end racism in our states, our country, or the world?

Within the LGBT+ community almost all of us have fought our own personal battles; many have been driven to suicide or murdered by bigots, and LGBT+ people of color have had it harder than anyone else.  Not only have they had to deal with hatred against them because of their sexuality or gender identity, they’ve also had to deal with hatred against them because of their skin color on top of that. Even within our community, a community that is supposed to be “all inclusive”, they’ve been ridiculed and driven out.  But in spite of that, they have so often been the leaders in the LGBT+ movement.  From Bayard Rustin, fighting for Civil Rights and LGBT+ rights right alongside Martin Luther King Jr., to Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, heroes of the Stonewall Riots, LGBT+ people of color have been leading the fight for equality for all of us for as long as there has been a movement.  Those within our community have proven again and again that we are strong and resilient, that we’ll keep on fighting until we are no longer physically able to do so, and our LGBT+ brothers and sisters of color have been some of the strongest among us, right on the front lines.  

In a world that continues to see those representing hatred and bigotry growing bolder on a daily basis, our community should stand up and say we won’t allow it to divide us.  We have to say loudly and clearly that we won’t allow the Donald Trumps of the world to infect our community with their poison and that we are better than that.  We have to “be the change we want to see in the world”, and if that change starts with something as simple as changing the rainbow flag to make LGBT+ people of color feel more included, then those that truly want to end racism once and for all should embrace that change gladly.  Yes I was against the idea initially, but after doing some soul-searching and giving it some serious thought I’ve realized that it’s the least… the very least… that we can do.  

James Garcia – 6/16/2017

 

 

Goodbye America, Hello Bigotry: So Much For Our Ideals…

americaI’m sitting here, stuck at work, feeling emotionally devastated… Worse than I’ve felt in a long time.  I’ve made a few comments on Facebook, but I’ve felt the need to pull back, to be semi-friendly, to make excuses for those who claim to love me, yet still voted for Trump.  But why should I hold back? Donald Trump has won the presidency, and that’s something I really never believed would happen yesterday at this time.  I truly believed that more Americans stood for racial and gender equality, equality for LGBT people… That we stood above bigotry. But the country has proven me wrong.  They’ve placed racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia, (so many phobias…) up on a pedestal.  They’ve told little girls out there that if a man gropes her inappropriately that it’s his right, and she shouldn’t complain.  They’ve told little Muslim and Latino boys and girls that they’re not welcome here, their families aren’t welcome here, and that they’re going to stick them behind a wall.  They’ve told African American men and women that if the police shoot them in the street like dogs, well hey… Too bad for you.  Your lives don’t matter.

I’ve had two friends tell me tonight that it “wasn’t about gay rights” or “It wasn’t about bigotry.”  Well then, what was it about? What else could it possibly have been about??? Trump hasn’t presented any plans or details about how he’s supposedly going to “fix” the economy (which was already recovering nicely) other than by giving a bunch of tax cuts to the rich (because that’s worked so well in the past).  He’s made wild claims about fighting terrorism, but again… He hasn’t given any details about how he’s going to do so, other than by stating “ban all Muslims from entering the country.”

I had one friend who didn’t vote for Trump, (but supports Republicans who did) that stated that it was about being “Pro-Life” and because Hillary is for “late-term abortions” (which she’s not). I almost bought it, but let’s get real here… He’s not going to be able to stop abortions.  Not ever.  Not even if he somehow manages to get a constitutional amendment passed (he won’t).  All Trump could possibly do is stop safe abortions.  Key-word here… Safe…  Let’s face it, if a woman truly believes she can’t support a child or carry it to term, she won’t.  Period.  Instead, what we’ll be faced with is women who can do so going across the border to Canada, and those that can’t, resorting to the abortions of the past (coathangers, falls down the stairs, etc…) So not only will we have those “lives” you claim to care about being lost, we’ll also have the lives of the mothers being lost as well.  So, no. You don’t get to pretend this is somehow about being “pro-life” unless you’re completely naive about how the real world works (which you very well might be).  

Trump’s entire campaign has been built on nothing but the worst sort of bigotry, in so many forms.  Racism, homophobia, misogyny, Islamophobia… He’s backed by the fucking leader of the KKK for Christ’s sake, which should tell anyone all they need to know.  I can’t speak for other minorities (though I can be horrified for them), but I can speak as a gay man, and what people who voted for Trump have told me, in a loud and clear voice, is that they don’t think I am equal to them as a human being.  They’ve told me they couldn’t fucking care less if I’m able to marry the man I love. They didn’t think twice about whether or not I’m allowed to adopt children. They’ve told me they don’t give a shit if I get treated as a person when I walk into a business.  With those stakes on the line, ignorance about what Trump stood for is not an excuse.  Apathy is a slap in the face.  Agreement is absolutely offensive and disgusting.  I can’t even begin to imagine how any minority could have voted for him (though statistically speaking, quite a few must have…)  

I’m going to say, unapologetically, if you supported Trump (or really any Republican) you can make all the claims you want about caring about me, but the harsh reality I’m now faced with, whether you want to admit it or not, is that I’m not even worth your consideration.  Gay rights… Minority rights…Women’s rights… Probably didn’t even cross your mind.  Trump is the lowest form of scum and those that agree with him are as well.  “Deplorable” is too nice of a word.  Those that didn’t bother to research what Trump stands for, voted in protest, or flipped a coin… I don’t even know what to say to you.  You should have cared more… Considered others besides yourself more.  But you didn’t.  I’m beyond livid… I’m tired of sitting back and watching the country be raped by the Republican elite and now by the monster they’ve created, but the entire country has now been placed in their proven incapable hands.

One of my closest friends stated tonight that people who voted for Trump shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for voting for him, because that’s their right.  But I disagree.  STRONGLY.  It definitely is their right to vote for a bigot.  But they should feel guilty about it.  They should feel ashamed of themselves.  Whatever nightmare is in store for us for the next 4 to 8 years is on their heads.  If I believed in any sort of god, I’d be praying for mercy right now.  As it is, I can only sit here with a sense of absolute dread for what’s in store for us.  

James Garcia 11/9/2016