I recently joined a gay social group. Upon entering the room I noticed that all the participants were white and male. This is not surprising in the gay community. Gay white men have dominated the community for a long time. GLBT issues are white gay male issues, hence why gay marriage is a legitimate struggle and the inclusion of gender neutral bathrooms or fostering a GLBTQ youth community are not. We were discussing the work of Edmund White when the issue of marriage came up. Somehow this then led to discussing how Blacks and Hispanics are extremely homophobic, perhaps because GLBT groups blamed the Black community for Prop 8s passing in CA. Everyone was being a good liberal and saying things like “well not to generalize, but…” or more accurately “I’m about to be real racist, but ….” The members then attempted to justify their statements by blaming Black and Hispanic culture and not the individuals. How condescending and problematic is this? It treats racial minorities as passive idiots whose major fault is that their entire culture is corrupt. Oh, if only they could be better (read more white). The whole thing was absurd.
Within the same conversation, a member brought up the gentrification of neighborhoods and the work that gay men do. He then mentions how straight people follow gays to buy property and then sell it after property values increase. No connection was made between gentrification and the tension between the two communities. Gay men move into impoverished areas and remodel and renovate houses causes property value and taxes to increase. Remodeling is in itself not a bad thing. What is horrible is that the existing community is forced out of their neighborhoods because they can no longer afford rent or tax increases. Systemic racism and segregating housing practices mean that these impoverished areas with newly ousted communities are minorities. Displacing people may, shockingly, cause hostility. Even with this hostility, I am reluctant to believe or entertain the thought that certain racial and ethnic minorities are more homophobic than others. What does this argument do for us? Nothing. We live in a homophobic and racist culture. Blaming other minorities for our problems does nothing except divert our attention to the wrong places.
What to do? If racism and homophobia exist within a culture than alleviate it. Talk about it, remedy it. Franz Fanon had it right when he stated that attempting to see who is more oppressed is irrelevant as seeing where oppression comes from. The same person who hates gays, hates the black, hates the Hispanic, hates the transgendered person. We need to take responsibility for the communities they may displace. We should go to local officials and ensure that tax caps and rent control are maintained. The maintaining of a diverse community means proximity. Proximity hopefully leads to recognition. (Perhaps this notion is too liberal. I myself am not sure if I wholly agree with it.) GLBTQ people should not be complacent in the destruction of communities. How many displaced families is a boutique worth?