Racism in the Gay Community

Rainbow flagWake up, America. Racism in the Castro needs to be dealt with firmly. It needs to be discussed openly in the gay and straight communities. But when the day is done, we will still have racism in the Castro (and in America) — even if more covertly. When the day is done, our pervasive anti-other attitudes are undermining civil liberty efforts everywhere.

They are among the most maligned groups in society, but when it comes to discrimination, many say, gays can give as good as they get.
A city investigation of S.F. Badlands, one of the largest and most popular bars in the heart of the Castro neighborhood, has added evidence to that argument. In April, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission found that the bar discriminated against African American customers and job applicants.
— Wyatt Buchanan, Chronicle staff writer, San Francisco Chronicle Sunday June 26, 2005

Racism in the GLBT community is not new, nor did it originate there. Massive family and cultural ethnic contradictions snake their way from generation to generation, without regard for the ethnic background or sexual orientation of individual members of the adoptive new generation. Racism in the greater communities, in the diverse ethnic and regional groups themselves, has improved since the 1960’s. But the ugly spirit of the KKK festers deep and heals slowly, and it is actively undermining efforts to bring real equality to the gay lesbian community, and other minority communities, today.

Racism in America has lost most of its political clout, meaning, it is now generally illegal to hurt you because of your ethnic origin. But the superstition, ignorance and mean-spiritedness, rooted now more in low-lifers and misguided individuals than in most institutions, is still there. You can say what you want, but victims of this prejudice know it when they see it. And they see it.

No student of history or current events would fail to look at this in the context of the racism and ethnic warfare that has infected and plagued all the regions of the world. Globally, tolerance and understanding has a long way to go.

What we need to understand about racism:

  • People who would deny some minority groups equal protection under the law, or discriminate in behavior and attitude against whole groups of people because of their ethnic origin or sexual orientation, are intellectually and morally disarmed in defense of their own civil liberties.
  • Ethnic slurs, discrimination, and derogatory smears of whole groups of people are unacceptable, not only because they are rude and unjust or downright illegal, but because they undermine any rational defense of civil liberties for any of us, including you.
  • Racism in the gay community is unwelcome twice over. We have seen minority groups engage in wholesale attack upon other minority communities before, but it is no less ugly when our own group is doing the mudslinging.
  • If you think you have a grievance against others because of what one or several individuals did to you in the past, don’t tar the entire group with the same brush. A straight white male who “hates blacks”, say because he was beat up in high school, has actually made a deliberate choice to embrace those unacceptable attitudes in his own life. Good-bye, Selma. Welcome, Kosovo.
  • Whether one understands and agrees with this or not, those who continue denigrating other groups on account of race, color, creed, sex, or sexual orientation make a day-to-day choice. And that choice says: “I opt out of any pretense that my civil liberties are justifiable. I’ll hang on to them as long as I can, but I can’t defend them. I choose a posture which says that universal rights are a myth, my rights are indefensible, and I’ll just take what I can get and hope I don’t get caught.”

    The next time you hear an associate use the “N” word, or make snide remarks about gay civil unions, speak out. Remind them their civil liberties are at stake too. As go the rights of the least popular minority, so goes the nation.

    On this day of San Francisco’s own Gay Pride parade, it’s time to reaffirm the “rainbow” in the Rainbow Flag.

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