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Note Jennings and Shapiro, " communities of color have many traditions that impact (GLBTQ) issues in different ways... A young (GLBTQ) person of color faces multiple 'identity' issues that teams from the dominant culture do not" (p. 215).
Indeed, racism within the GLBTQ community has long existed, exacerbating the conflicts between different constituents of this group. For example, white-run gay bars and clubs often excluded African-American gays and lesbians in the 1950s. Today, people of color in the GLBTQ community note that such racism still exists, often in the form of the exclusion of people of color from the larger GLBTQ community. European-Americans often had difficulty ascribing the experience of the individual over societal oppression (ColorQWorld).
One reason for such an attitude may stem from the mistaken attitude among the white GLBTQ community that "communities of color are even less 'progressive' than white communities when it came to homosexuality/transgender issues, they did not see a queer person of color as a possibility" (ColorQWorld). This racism often arose from the difficulty that many members of the white GLBTQ community had in seeing people of color as true individuals. Instead, white members of the GLBTQ community often have seeing people of color as part of the larger group. For example, Gloria Steinem has noted that people call a white feminist simply a 'feminist', but a black feminist is almost always referred to as a 'black feminist' (ColorQWorld).
At the same time, the idea that people of color are closer to 'primitive man' than whites within the GLBTQ community also has contributed to a schism within the community. In equating black Africans as a more 'primitive' race, European the culture thereby saw black individuals as closer to nature, and thus ruled the more strongly by instinct than whites. In this conception, the sexual energy of the black individual would be focused on the biological process of reproduction. Thus, black individuals, seen as the most 'primitive' of individuals, must by necessity be the most heterosexual (ColorQWorld).
While racism certainly plays a role in conflicts between different members of the GLBTQ community, more optimistic accounts indicate that overt racism lessens as time goes on, but that more subtle forms of racism exist. "In-your-face bigotry is now seldom seen in the largely PC and semi-sensitive gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender community, but ignorance and subtle discrimination still exists" (ColorQWorld).
Interaction of Racism and Sexism in the GLBTQ Community
Some subsets of the GLBTQ community embody at the struggles of both the lesbian community, and double minorities. As such, these individuals have the interests or concerns that conflict with the GLBTQ community to even larger extent that those who face only gender issues or the issues faced by double minorities. Note Jennings and Shapiro, "A Latina lesbian- mentors for body, seek sexual pleasure and doesn't need a man to complete her-is considered an insult to women who accept the conventional arrangement and integration in the community. Sometimes, Latinas feel that they can keep their place in the family and community only if they hide their lesbian identity" (p. 200).
This pressure to hide a lesbian identity, based upon the pressures of their Latina culture, flies strongly in the face of the larger GLBTQ community. The larger GLBTQ community generally feels that a three expression of sexual orientation is most desirable. However, lesbians in the Latina community often face cultural pressures that are difficult to understand for the larger white, male GLBTQ community.
Similarly, Latino and African-American males who engage in same-gender sexual behavior struggle with both cultural and gender stereotypes. Jennings and Shapiro note that in these cultures "being gay is equated with being feminine, and being effeminate is not valued in macho Latino culture. On the other hand, it is sometimes been acceptable to be the dominant partner anti-gay sexual relationship if your Latino man, as the only person considered 'gay' is a receptive partner. This is enabled many Latinos to participate in same-sex sexual behavior without risking a label that might compromise their membership in the community" (p. 200).
Clearly, these complex relationships between cultural identity and gender stereotypes within the Latino community can be difficult for the larger white, male GLBTQ community to understand. While almost all members of the GLBTQ community, regardless of gender or cultural density, have face discrimination the pressures upon those within the Latino community place them in a unique position. As such, the unique combination of cultural identity and gender stereotypes faced by those within the Latino community potentially conflict with the larger GLBTQ community.
In conclusion, the while the larger GLBTQ community shares a number of issues and concerns, the community is also divided by a number of issues. Within the larger GLTBQ community, lesbians, transgendered individuals, bisexuals, and individuals of color have unique experiences and issues that set them in conflict with the larger community. Sexism within and without the GLBTQ community often creates a conflict between lesbians, transsexuals and bisexuals and the larger GLBTQ community. Similarly, the unique cultural experience of double minorities also results in conflict with the larger community. Interestingly, some subsets of the community conflict with the large community due to a unique combination of gender, racial, and cultural issues. Taken together, these conflicts suggest that the GLBTQ community, while sharing a number of important concerns and issues, is also divided among racial, cultural, and gender lines.
ColorQWorld. Racism in Queer America. ColorQ.org. 04 November 2004. http://www.colorq.org/Articles/2000/gayracism.htm
Jennings, Kevin and Shapiro, Pat. Always My Child: A Parent's Guide to Understanding Your Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered or Questioning Son or Daughter. Fireside, 2002.
Menkart, Deborah. Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching. Teaching for Change and Poverty & Race Research, 2004.
Zanazanian, Paul. Sexism a problem within the gay and lesbian community. The Link, Tuesday, January 15, 2002 @06:00AM.…[continue]
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