This article was published on March 24th, 2020
Pete Buttigieg is a minority as a gay man.
He is also a white man.
Pete Buttigieg is a gay white man and benefits from white male privilege.
Ah, intersectionality. What does it mean?
White Male Privilege:
1. term to explain white men that have greater access to society’s legal and political institutions
White male privilege doesn’t have to be ‘activated’.
Being gay and white does not cancel out said privilege.
The Blindspot of Intersectionality
Mainstream gay events still depict the community as overwhelmingly white, youthful, and wealthy, overlooking a huge portion of the community. Dating apps have come under fire by people of color that face sexual segregation that is classified as a preference for some gay white men but falls under the definition of racism.
This intersectional fact is one that many gay white men have a blind spot on in many occasions, and while the LGBTQ+ community has made significant inroads and strides particularly in the last 50 years, what cannot be ignored is how many people of color under the umbrella have been excluded in many circumstances.
The same pushback that surrounds #BlackLivesMatter can also be found when it pertains to white privilege, which has been denied and denounced by a large section of both white heteronormative and queer spaces. But one only need look at the news to know that there is a clear divide that is frustrating for advocates that are fighting for the rights of all members within the LGBTQ+ community.
The contributions of black queer people in the LGBTQ+ community have long been chronicled – from leaders like Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major, Stormé DeLarverie, etc – yet on the ground and even in mainstream media their presence has been whitewashed, downplayed significantly, and often times ignored. Aside from the #BlackLivesMatter movement, there have been a slew of transwomen of color that have been shot and killed, and their stories remain unheard in lieu of white, gay-centered events. The intersection of race within the queer community has also significantly impacted the HIV epidemic, with black and brown men still lagging behind their white counterparts in regards to access to medications and healthcare, and with infection rates that are disproportionately higher. Now that HIV is not considered primarily a gay epidemic, it feels more like an afterthought. The current methamphetamine problem is also currently the latest controversy, akin to the racial divide between cocaine and crack in the 80s and early 90s.
One Cause, Two Prides
And while Pride is meant to bring the LGBTQ+ community at large together, the fact remains that Pride events have been whitewashed to such an extent that many people of color express frustration at glaring omissions that are similar to their efforts during the Stonewall riots. In many cities there is a ‘standard’ Pride and a ‘Black Pride’ to appease locals and as a way to increase representation. When there was an attempt to add black and brown stripes to the traditional LGBTQ+ flag, the action was met with opposition from white gay men that argued the flag already represented skin color. White owners of gay establishments have also come under fire for racial profiling, gay slurs, and discrimination that has compromised the status of queer spaces that are few and far between anyway, let alone for gay and bisexual men of color.
The Pendulum Continues to Swing
As black and brown men fight simply to survive inside the LTGBQ community as well as outside of it, white men have been called to task of late to acknowledge the privilege they possess and use it as an agent for change. The fractured status that exists currently only undermines any progress that is likely to occur in the future. The gay community has come a long way in the last 50 years, but there still remains a huge divide within culture that needs to be addressed now in order to not repeat history that has been detrimental to the cause. LGBTQ members have a lot of work to do – from trans rights, bullying campaigns, racism in the workplace, et cetera. The time is now for self-examination to address the sexism, xenophobia, and transphobia that resonates within the LGBTQ umbrella and for gay white males to utilize their privilege for good.