Four Tips for White LGBTQ Activists
11/16/2016 by Allan Hayes
In light of the election results more and more angry people are finding themselves in activist spaces. These groups are comprised mostly of marginalized people angry at the dangerous future under the new regime. There is one group of these marginalized peoples who has a fine line to walk: white LGBTQ people.
There is definitely room in these activist spaces for LGBTQ people regardless of color. With Mike Pence playing a pivotal role in shaping Trump’s cabinet, and likely his policies, plus each new member of Trump’s transition team being more anti-LGBTQ than the last, it’s evident that LGBTQ people have tough fight against an ever-growing monolith of discrimination.Participation by all members of the LGBTQ community is essential. However, unlike a lot of the other people participating, the white LGBTQ have the advantage of invisibility.
In just a couple of months people of color are going to be fighting just to keep each other safe. One of the best tools to combat the already escalating assaults on communities of color is organizing and becoming unified. With that said, being LGBTQ doesn’t give you a get out of jail free card, especially when the LGBTQ community is still internally battling the same racial issues the rest of the world is. There are a few guidelines white LGBTQ individuals can follow to make sure they’re making a positive impact in activist spaces in the coming months, and years.
1. Feel free to speak, but don’t drown out the people of color who are speaking, and don’t take the lead speaking on issues of race. There are people of color there who can provide better insight than you can. Do try to understand the differences between you and people of color and the different battles you might face. People of color don’t get to pick when people learn of their identities, unlike white LGBTQ people, they’re forced to wear it every day.
2. Don’t try to steer the conversation either. If the topic is currently focused on racism, misogyny, or xenophobia the best support you can offer is listening and learning. By trying to redirect the topic to issues of LGBTQ people in general you risk creating a division when the overall message should be one of intersectionality. Do point out the extra plight of the LGBTQ people of color or women if necessary, but only if it isn’t brought up by someone belonging to either of those groups. If you are an LGBTQ white woman, issues of sex are something you can freely speak on as well.
3. Keep other white allies in check. If someone does step out of line by silencing or speaking over someone when they shouldn’t be it is your responsibility to stop them. People of color do not also bear the responsibility of policing white people within an activist space, that falls onto the white allies who are there. Don’t be hesitant to say, “Hey, let someone else speak,” or “This isn’t the time for that.”
4. Most importantly, take what you learn home with you. Simply being LGBTQ without practicing allyship at home isn’t enough. Your identity as a minority isn’t visible. You blend in with the oppressors. Take what you learned and stand out. Be a positive ally at home against racial prejudice and xenophobia. Call out friends and family who are spreading oppressive ideals. The best thing you can do as a white LGBTQ person is to actively work against the privilege you have as a white person.
Allan Hayes is a Politcal Blogger at CSuiteMusic
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