After reading John Cloud’s piece about problems between LLEGO (National Latino/a Lesbian and Gay Organization) and other gay groups (“Pride and Prejudice,” 6/14), and the controversy surrounding the Montgomery County school board decision to protect gay and lesbian students from harassment, I was at first angry, then just sad.
The gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community has, as its greatest asset, its rich diversity. That diversity, however, can also make our work extremely challenging—to say the least. The gay community, like the rest of our society, needs to deal with its own racism, sexism, classism, and at its worst, internalized homophobia. What we cannot do, as the popular expression goes, is “eat our own” and forget the real enemy we are united in fighting—homophobia. Should Latino gays and lesbians be included in forums like the one put together by NLGJA? Absolutely. Do gay and lesbian groups need to be more thoughtful and inclusive in their efforts? Absolutely. But to watch an organization that GLAAD works with regularly, the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association, accused of “overt racism,” and have an organization that works for an oft-invisible part of our community, LLEGO, having a public fight over perceptions of racism and noninclusion, seems like just what the Radical Right would love to see us be concentrating our energies on.
The only way to make inroads within our community, and bridge our boundaries of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation, is by committing to work together, with the understanding that:
a) change may not happen overnight, but the gay and lesbian community, given its history as a vilified minority, has a better chance of understanding and overcoming other prejudices that just about anybody else;
b) by attacking each other, we only weaken our bonds, and remain unable to do the long, hard work necessary to understanding each others’ differences.
As a lesbian activist for a few short years, I have already learned more than I could ever have imagined and, yes, overcome personal prejudices. Through working in the queer community, I have gained an appreciation for the struggle my transgender brothers and sisters have overcome to be their true selves. I understand more fully that sexuality is a spectrum, and “gay” and “straight” certainly do not define all of us. And that being an affluent gay white male doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t stand proudly with the rest of us. Yes, the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community needs to be held accountable for nurturing our diversity, but we also must remain committed to not destroying each other in the process.