By now, you have probably seen this controversial video of a presumed heterosexual man verbally slurring a group of gay men and getting beaten down hard. It's generated a lot of discussion.
There are some lgbts who applaud what happened because they figured the man brought it upon himself.
And another camp worries about what effect would it have if the religious right would use it to attack gays.
Lastly, there are many who say that violence under any circumstances is wrong, i.e. it was wrong to attack this man no matter what he said.
I'm kinda in the third camp . . . with a caveat.
I don't condone this type of violence, period. There was no need for it. But the caveat I have was how many who condemned this action was so caught up in denouncing the violence that they missed the bigger picture.
When one looks at the group of gays in the video, one would probably brand them as violent thugs. I don't because I know folks like them. And I know why they were so quick to gang up on the man.
These are the lgbts you hardly ever know or see. Part of it has to do with the fact that they are African-American and urban. Let's be honest about some things in our community. There are times that if you don't look a certain way, dress a certain way, fit a certain social strata, or don't run in a clique, you might as well be invisible.
Unfortunately this problem bleeds into our equality organizations
And the problem with being invisible is that a lot of times, your issues get ignored. The progress that is seen in the gay community skips over you. Yes DOMA is being defeated in the courts, but how does it help a young lgbt of color who can't seem to find a group indigenous to his or her needs? We see folks like Ellen DeGeneres, Ricky Martin, and Neil Patrick Harris daily, but again let's be honest. How many young lgbts of color know who these folks are as opposed to white lgbts. And how many lgbts of color regard these folks as role models?
Also, another problem being invisible is that you have to adapt. You have to survive on your own with very little support systems and unfortunately young lgbts of color are put in that situation. Who is there for young gay black men in schools when they get jumped in school for "acting too feminine?"
And say they make it out of high school and into college? They have two choices - either go to a predominantly white university where they most likely won't fit in with the gay crowd because they are considered "too ghetto" or go to a predominantly African-American university where homophobic attacks against them are at times ignored by faculty members who assume that these children bring it on themselves for "acting like a punk."
But the beauty of mankind is how we survive. When someone closes a door, we open a window or knock down a wall. Young lgbts of color form loose groups of friends and organizations that are underground. They love each other, support each other, and - as I suspect what I saw in the video - stand up for each other when the time call for it.
There are solutions to this problems. All of us need to recognize that the gay community is not a bland, homogenous concept of folks. We are multicultural and multi-ethnic. We do not like the same things. We don't admire the same heroes and we don't celebrate our sexual orientation the same way.
We need to get out of our cliques and celebrate our differences. If you are white, don't assume that black pride events preach separation. If you are a gay man, educate yourself on the transgender community.
Don't look for things that force us to come together so much that you ignore the things that make us unique as gay people.
And above all, each of us must take a stand - whether it be verbal with our friends, volunteering, or even emailing our organizations - about those in the lgbt community we don't hear about - the lesbian community, the elderly gay community, the different cultures of the gay community.
When we recognize that our differences make us strong instead of attempting to force each other to blend in, we as a community become stronger.