LGBTQ+ community must recognize white privilege, thank women of color
July 6, 2017
t seems like whenever the world thinks of LGBTQ+ issues, they picture a white gay man who is cisgender, meaning he identifies with the gender that corresponds with the sex that he was assigned at birth.
There are more than a few problems with this picture. Have you ever seen a movie where the angsty lead teen has a gay best friend? Most likely the gay best friend is a flamboyant, white gay male with an amazing fashion sense. This stereotype is what we see in movies, television, and even influential people. But what really stands out is the lack of representation of LGBTQ+ women.
According to Times, San Francisco has the highest amount of people that openly identify as LGBTQ+. About 6.2% of people that live in San Francisco identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or trans.
Although, the population of LGBTQ+ individuals continues to climb In San Francisco there isn’t much representation of women of color in the community. The shortage isn’t of amazing women of color, it’s of accurate representation of them in the media.
It is even necessary to credit trans women of color for the arisal the LGBTQ+ movement. Sylvia Rivera, a Puerto Rican transgender activist and drag queen, sparked the 1969 Stonewall riots by being the first to throw a bottle at police who were brutalizing queer women at the Stonewall Inn, a bar that was home to many gay and trans women. Rivera was one of the founders of the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance. Rivera battled with substance abuse and was homeless during different parts of her life. These experiences motivated her to focus more on advocating for gay and transgender youth who had also experienced the same things, as many do because of lack of available resources and support. She was one of many women who made it possible for the LGBTQ+ community come together and celebrate in events like Pride.
Walking down The Castro, a historically gay neighborhood in San Francisco is a mecca for the LGBTQ+ community. The GLBT Museum stands out as a place to learn about the history within the community. E.G. Crichton, 69, a successful white gay woman living in San Francisco, stood inside observing the “lavender tinted glasses” wall, painting the history of lesbian women. even though she’s gay she recognizes that she is privileged as a white women and believes it’s problem in the community. She said, “White privilege is a real thing, many white people don’t realize because it’s their normal.”
Another influential woman of color who pioneered the way for women in the queer community is Marsha P. Johnson. Johnson was an African-American advocate for the transgender community.
Johnson died on July 6, 1992 at age 46. She was found in the Hudson River while the police ruled it a suicide, friends, family, and members of the community insisted otherwise. According to Queerty, Johnson was not suicidal and several witnesses came forward to say they had seen her be harassed by a group of men prior to her death. We may never find justice for Marsha P. Johnson but there are ways to find justice for trans women in our communities.
LGBTQ+ women of color are more likely to be targeted violently. According to the National Center For Lesbian Rights, 1 in 8 women and half of bisexual women experience rape in their lifetime. The statistics are scarier once we look at the amount of sexual assault that transgender people face, 64% of trans people have experienced sexual assault. Women of color experience the highest rates of sexual assault and violent hate crimes.
Gay white men now have the privilege of having hundreds of thousands of people rallying for them in support, while trans women of color still struggle to maintain jobs due to workplace harassment, get an education due to bullying, and finding themselves in society. The oppression of women doesn’t stop on the streets of San Francisco despite the undeniable sense of acceptance and the open minded attitude. White men today continue to benefit from the labor of women of color while most of these women have been erased from history.