Saturday, October 3, 2009

A House Divided...

Today I have to open a particularlly ugly can o' worms. And one I don't quite know how to frame. Do I present this unbiased and let you draw your own conclusion or give my honest opinion?

Recently in Queerty was a rather vitriolic article from one of their contributing bloggers, Nakhone Keodara. In it he states that since the LGBT Movement is so full of rampant racism and white privelidge that he is opting to quite the movement alltogether. Mr. Keodara worked with the "Gays United Network". He has been a consistant critic of the effort to place gay marriage back on California's ballot in 2010. He has also been very vocally critical of Cleve Jones and the "National Equality March" Recently he removed his organizations endorsement of the 2010 election in favor of 2012 and recieve and recieved a great deal of critisiscm...that is till he deemed the cause unworthy on the grounds of racial discrimination....

...HUH?...Pardon me, but I thought when we were fighting for gay rights we were fighting for the rights of the entire community, no matter what your skin color.

The full article can be found here

The night after prop 8 passed, we marched down market street with thousands of other gay men and women and those who supported us. I don't recall there being a separate march for people of color. Nor was there was a separate march for the transgendered. We all marched together. If we can't do that, what the hell are we fighting for?

The question this article raises is this: "Is the GLBT movement primarily driven by the 'single white male"?

To which, My opinion is an emphatic no.

Its seems a terrible diversion at a time when we have such close races in states like Washington and Maine to be infighting about the state of racial equality in the gay rights movement but here we find ourselves. I don't take Mr. Keodara's opinions as those of other people of color in the gay community. In all likelyhood it is his axe and he intends to grind it and if we won't play he's gonna take his toys and go home.

Now there is racism in the gay community...because the GLBTQ community is comprised of individuals from all walks of life. To deny that racism exists is foolish and irresponsible.When I hear of gay people saying anything about another race it ticks me off to no end because we should really know better, not only because of our own struggles, but because in this day and age its just plain ignorant. Its a facepalm moment everytime it happens. But to say that gay rights are not worth fighting for because of it denies the contributions of all the people of color who have lived, suffered, and bled side by side with their white counterparts. And what about the contributions of women?

Mr. Keodara's statement intimates that people of color are being left behind by a movement that is being highjacked by white men with Cleve Jones as an example of this. But what about all those years when AIDS first leveled the gay community and it was the women who stepped up and helped care for the fallen? Gay men and gay women did not get on very well in those early days of the struggle for gay rights but when the chips were down, they were there to pick up the pieces. At any given rally count how many men there are to the number of women. Its educational. At all our prop 8 protests the number of women that showed up to protest were easily double that of the men.

If, in the best case scenario, gay marriage is legalized, do not people of color benefit just as whites do? I'm really not understanding mr keodara's assertion that people of color are being left behind...perhaps that is my ignorance...but I dont get it. He seems to think that we should drop the battle for marriage equality and focus on AIDS and race issues in the gay community. How does giving up that fight in any way help a black lesbian woman who wants to marry? or for a real life example, how does it help the two black men, Michael Cole Smith and Jamil Smith Cole, Whos recent wedding photos resulted in the firing of a Morehouse College administrator. These gentleman seem to be benefiting from making a public statement about their commintment to each other. Don't you think?

My Grandma always taught me that GOD loves us all the same and wants us to do the same...

With that in mind I leave you with a comment posted on the afformention article that quotes "Will and Grace".

No. 2 · Topher
This whole tirade reminds me of a great moment from Will & Grace:

GRACE: …don't tell me that you're gonna pull out the gay card.

WILL: It is a lot harder for a gay man–

GRACE: Because if you're pulling out the gay card, I'm pulling out the girl card, and we both know that the girl card trumps the gay card.

WILL: Don't make me get my friend Joannie over here, because we both know that the only card that trumps the girl card is the gay girl card.

GRACE: Ok. I'm not losing this. I will call Jill, my African-American, bi-curious, dyslexic… Forget it. I'm exhausted. I fold.

WILL: That's a good move, because I happen to know a differently-abled transsexual with split ends, and that beats the house, missie.

Here is a link to Mr. Keodara's previous commentaries on the GLBT movement and race discrimination:


  1. IMHO, I do think that African-American gays and lesbians face a different hurdle than the white community. The black church and whole gangsta culture stigmatizes LGTs perhaps harsher than whites. The Wayen brothers-the homosexual movie critics on "In Living Color"? It may be wrong, but I have the feeling that being openly gay in the minority community is risker.

    I've also heard some dissent on the Equality March because it'll shift focus from Maine and Washington's referendums and the repeal of DODT. That more people should be engaging the legislatures rather than marching.In a way, it's a bit like the civil rights struggle in the 60s, where everyone wanted equality for blacks but there were 2 different approaches,MLK and Malcom X.

    Personally, I think lobbying the legislatures AND marching can both be beneficial for LGT rights. A march increases visibility on the cause and even if the Congress and White House are out of town, the news coverage can keep it in the public eye.

    As for Will and Grace, did you know that John Barrowman, a gay British actor(Captain Jack on Doctor Who), tried out for the part of Will, but was rejected because the producers thought he was too straight? Stereotypes go both ways, I guess.

  2. Thank you HeatherFeather. I agree with you on all points.

    I don't mean to take away the fact that lgbt people of color DO have a harder road. They quite frankly do and theres no arguing the point.

    My issue is with looking at the fight for lgbt rights as a "white" issue. Those same rights affect all of us regardless of color. Also, I dont know why we can not support ALL efforts to advance the lgbtq cause. Fighting and throwing insults weakens us greatly.

    And one thing I have learned from observing law enforcement officers in San Francisco is how omnidirectional discrimination is. you can pick any group of people and there is someone they dont like.

  3. This is stupid. Yes, the African American members of the gay/lesbian community face greater hurdles, I agree, but they are still part of our community... and well welcome. Skin color means nothing to me, it's just part of who you are like your favorite food or color of your eyes. LGBT rights aren't an issue of color, and certainly not just a "white" issue.

  4. Greets.

    This internal dissent hits me from out of nowhere. I suppose it's typical---in any cause there will always be factions---regardless of the issue, but I had thought OUR movement was less likely to experience it.

    Sounds to me like Mr. Keodara has forgotten that our opponents present a unified front against us and any fighting in our ranks aids them, not us. Once we have won our primary struggle, then we can focus on internal issues. Frankly, I've never seen discrimination like he describes---though I live in the South. hmmmm. Doesn't mean it's not happening, of course---just I've never seen it in all my years.

    I, too, agree, that minority GLBT people face a harsher reaction from their culture, their people. I've often wondered about it, how they deal with it, though I've never really discussed it. Looks like I've got more to learn than I thought.

  5. As an Asian man, I cannot relate to Mr. Keodara's extreme views on racism within our community. I realize it exists, but for me it's never been an issue. The tone of his article seems to suggest that he does indeed have a chip on his shoulder. The two issues are apples and oranges anyway; it's ridiculous and irresponsible to withhold support for the community because he has a problem with a small part of it.

  6. I wouldn't say that LGBT persons of color don't care about the same issues that a white LGBT person does. The difference is a matter of priorities, which specific issues should we spend our money supporting and our time as activists. I would like to be able to meaningfully support all the important causes, but realistically that isn't feasible.

    Yes, marriage equality is an important issue (particularly for Prop8 since it was a right actively taken away from us), but given the choice it isn't something I would bring up to fight for. My priorities are different because of my culture and upbringing, and marriage isn't high on the list.

    My parents got married back when arranged marriages still happened. Seeing what their marriage is like makes me pretty negative about marriage as a whole. Of the LGBT Indian Americans that I know, most feel similarly. Obviously, that doesn't mean none of them want to get married or any of them feel marriage equality isn't worth fighting for. But it isn't a fight we would necessarily choose. Or rather, choose first over things we feel may be more important.

    But because the fight was started by our opponents and by members of our community for whom it is a priority, I can see why LGBT persons of color would say the gay activist community isn't for us. I think Mr. Keodara's reaction was overly dramatic and I don't agree with his actions, but I can see why he thinks as he does.

    I also want to stress that I'm only speaking for myself as an individual gay Indian American.

  7. While I think marriage equality is not the highest priority on terms of rights, what really galls me is that via a referendum, people have the vote to take from others, a right that was bestowed by the state. To be frank, I never really thought about SSM until Prop 8. But I think when states start putting these propisitions on the ballots, both hetero and homosexuals have to stand up and say it's not right. Even if it's just a letter to the editor, at least it's a voice. Sorry if this became a bit of a rant...