Editor's note - I posted this in the Huffington Post in 2016. It is just as important today as it was back then:
As a gay African-American, I’ve heard the argument about how “you can’t compare the gay civil rights movement to the African-American civil rights movement” more times than I care to count.
The constant so-called moral outrage of some African-American heterosexuals when the topic is mentioned has gotten me to the point where my mind automatically tunes out the monotonous drones of how supposed sinful homosexuals are “high jacking” the civil rights movement or how gays “can’t compare their sin with black skin.”
As such, I almost missed the epiphany which occurred two weeks ago.
I was vaguely scanning comments on a conservative site by an anonymous African-American female as she went on and on about how gays were never subjected to slavery, segregation or declared three fifths a person. While the logical side of my mind was gathering up the customary argument of how wrong it was for disadvantaged people of any stripe to play the “Oppression Olympics,” the emotional side of my mind struck immediately.
“This is the most ignorant crap I’ve ever heard,” I thought. “Just where in the hell does she think gay black people were during slavery and segregation? On a spaceship orbiting the Earth? “
I was instantly struck by oddity of what I had thought. Not that my outrage wasn’t coming from a place of truth, mind you, but how the simple fact never entered my mind that yes, gay people were subjected to slavery, segregation and racism because of our skin. Just as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people of color exist now, we existed back then. Then it suddenly struck me again that I’ve never recalled any acknowledgement of this fact during the myriad of discussions, I’ve read, listened to or seen regarding comparisons between the gay and civil rights movements.
And why is that?
There have been numerous debates, articles, columns, movies and documentaries about how the legacy of racism has had a negative effect on so many aspects of African-American community, from our families to the way we interact with each other. It stands to reason that the legacy of racism didn’t leave LGBT people of color unscathed. But information about what LGBT people of color did during those awful times in our history or what effect it has had on us is practically nonexistent.
It is a subject hardly ever mentioned. No one talks about it in the black community and that includes leaders, intellectuals, journalists, authors or any other person with some type of platform. And this leaves me feeling as if the events of black history, which are supposed to be a part of my heritage, are nothing more than hand-me-downs donated to me out of charity because there are very few, if any, events which are specific to me as an LGBT person of color.
Or at least that’s what I am led to believe by the black community at large.