First, let me be clear, I have never personally felt unwelcome at a gay pride event, however, I have not felt represented completely either. In my community, most of the black lgb (I'm leaving out trans simply because I don't know too many of them in my own community and their under representation is a whole nother topic) people know each other. Omaha is small, gay community smaller, black gay community, ok, you get the point. Anyway, once I came out and began to meet these people, I thought there were a whole lot of us, until I went to a pride event. That's when I realized that it wasn't want I thought It'd be.
There were plenty of things going on that I was not culturally familiar with too. The music, the terms, the type of entertainment was all different from what I was used to. That day, I think I saw two performances by black people. I don't even remember seeing any other races perform. Now, I grew up in a unique position where most of the schools that I went to had higher rates of minority students, but in my classes, I was still underrepresented. So, I made plenty of white friends in my honor classes and had plenty of black friends around my neighborhood.
This is where it comes together. Growing up, I didn't see the issue, I didn't know that pretty much all my black friends grew up in poverty and that poverty, health, education, and crime were all linked. I didn't understand that their parents weren't reading to them because they were never home because they had to make enough money to eat, couldn't afford daycare so my friends were running the streets unsupervised. All I knew was that I was different from both groups, more educated than some of my black counterparts but still not quite fitting in with my white friends.
Then, I began to understand the struggle. I opened my eyes to what was changing in the world and what was staying the same. Gay rights movement was gaining, but there still seemed to be a group that was left behind. Us. I know how uncomfortable it is to talk about race and I think that sometimes white gay people can forget that there is another struggle that minorities are still having to endure. People see these white gay people as being well off and moving up in the world, living in expensive neighborhoods and pushing forward with the movement. Still, minorities, especially blacks tend to have significantly less income and lgbt blacks even less so. Healthcare is a problem and so is crime. To many in the black gay community, it often feels that the same white people that fight for our rights are ignoring other's needs.
But is there really blame here?
I don't know. Generally we tend to only focus on issues within our own racial identities. We often turn a blind eye to what is going on and many don't even want to acknowledge that racism can still exist let alone that there can be these giant gaps of achievement and prosperity between the races. There are some that won't accept that sometimes ones circumstances can be enough to keep you at a level that will never get you anywhere. Why would that be any different between white lgbts and black lgbts. After all, isn't it just a smaller community represented in America?
Blacks often feel that the system does not work for them and whatever your opinion on that is, understand that history has proven that to be a valid opinion on many things. Not that it should always be used as an excuse.
Still, when I looked around from walking the streets of West Hollywood this year, I can't say that I felt at home, I can't say that I necessarily felt that these were my people. I felt worlds apart even after traveling to be a part. I didn't see as many women as I expected either, so it wasn't all about race, but it just shows, this is something that should be addressed.