#4. Marriage is colorless.
I must admit, when it comes to the struggles of LGBT people of color, I’m woefully uninformed. I know people of color in the LGBT community face additional challenges and barriers to acceptance not faced by their white peers, but how these challenges manifest are not wholly a part of my understanding. (Although I’m very interested in filling in this knowledge gap, and if you know of resources that can help me do this, I invite you–in fact I beg you–to share them in the comments below; you’re welcome to share your own experiences if you feel comfortable doing so as well.)
If we jump back to media portrayals of the LGBT community, it’s even clearer how whitewashed we are from the outside: most prominent LGBT figures in the media are white. This deadens the voice of an important part of our family, and prevents important perspectives and experiences from being known. For example, how many people know about Bayard Rustin? He practically organized he March on Washington where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his world-changing speech, but because Bayard was openly gay, he was essentially written out of history.
The discrimination within the LGBT community doesn’t stop at black or white; indeed, Asians, Indians, Latinos/Hispanics, and Middle Easterners–as well as many others–face similar barriers to acceptance in the LGBT community. They also must often tolerate additional discrimination from their own racial and ethnic groups, whose values and expectations may not yet be as accepting as other parts of our society.
Thankfully, marriage is colorless. People of every race and ethnicity can benefit from marriage equality, and celebrating all marriages–regardless of race or ethnicity–can help combat some of the discrimination within our community. Interestingly enough, despite the racism prevalent in some parts of the LGBT community, gay and lesbian people are more likely to have multiracial relationships than their straight peers. (Just look at Mississippi Representative Jon Hinson, who in 1981 was forced to resign after being caught with an African-American partner.)