Dear white LGBTQIA+ community

Alanna Sherman, Columnist

All human beings with marginalized identities are worthy of love and compassion, but is important to acknowledge that we can be at once marginalized, and still hold identities that grant us powers of the oppressor. This is especially important for those of us with the privilege of white skin and cisgender bodies.

LGBTQIA+ people are continually victimized as a result of their position outside of heterosexual norms. However, it is impossible to address this problem without acknowledging the myriad ways it affects individuals with other marginalized identities and the ways in which certain members of the community reinforce this oppression. 

We have reached a point in history where we’re allowed to wear queerness loud and proud, but this is limited when we begin accounting for race and gender expression.

BIPOC have played leading roles in fighting for LGBTQIA+ rights, dating back to the Stonewall Riots in the summer of 1969. White LGBTQIA+ people would not have the rights we have today if not for the work of Black LGBTQIA+ women and women of color such as Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Audre Lorde, Gloria Anzaldúa and many others. How can we sit idly by in the comfort that they fought to achieve and not even bat an eye at their continued suffering. 

Rather than standing up and advocating for our Black, Indigenous and community members of color who live under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella, we take full credit for the work they put in, and we continue to let racism and transphobia rapidly spread in the white LGBTQIA+ community. 

Our experiences of marginalization are valid, but our identities do not make us exempt from racism and transphobia. Our identities do not give us permission to further oppress and harm fellow human beings who have been fighting for our collective rights since day one.

Our shared experiences as LGBTQIA+ people do not exempt us from racism and transphobia, and it is extremely important to dedicate our time to unlearning the white supremacist values that are ingrained in us. We may be queer, but our white skin is much louder in the spaces we enter, and it is our job to shut that down. 

LGBTQIA+ spaces claim to be inclusive, although, as author Charmaine Lang states, “inclusivity without also being actively anti-racist does not prevent feelings of exclusion by Black queer folk; instead it fuels them.” 

Black, Indigenous and LGBTQIA+ people of color have been telling us this for years and we have not been listening. We need to listen to their voices and we need to educate ourselves. We need to put in work constantly to make real change. We need to do better. 

If the white LGBTQIA+ community truly wants to dismantle structures of power, we must dismantle them within ourselves. If we truly strive for an end to LGBTQIA+ violence, we must acknowledge how violence occurs at higher rates for LGBTQIA+ Black people and people of color, and we must put all of our energy forward for them.