In 2008 gay writer Andrew Sullivan blamed the passing of Prop 8 on America’s black population, specifically California voters.
It was a tough time to be non-white and gay. Time and Ta-nehisi Coates would prove Andrew Sullivan’s data wrong but when this was all happening you couldn’t help but feel that Sullivan was right somehow. I remember brown and black people being homophobic, I could see religious POC like my own family voting against gay rights.
This was because of two things: Writers like Mr. Coates weren’t on my radar. In fact no single black or Hispanic ally was on my radar. I wasn’t aware of them as a unified force for gay rights, and if I saw them on television then they didn’t speak to their beliefs on gay rights, and if they did then those beliefs wouldn’t get repeated enough for me to catch them. I wasn’t too familiar with twitter at the time, and wasn’t able to find the voices who would RT those sound bytes or articles.
The other thing was representation. If America’s black population wasn’t extraordinarily more homophobic then where were black gay stars? Artists? Actors? Where were the gay people on BET? Where were gays on Univision?
So imagine my surprise when this Kiki-ing video played on BET’s website for me last week. Or when I saw this tweet yesterday. Or reading this article about Hispanic trans people.
How we measure exactly how things have “gotten better” must be different from person to person, but I’ve found that the above representation has greatly influenced how I feel, overall, with how things are going. I see the brown and black faces and I acknowledge their bravery, and I feel that a piece of their courage is part of my own. The struggle to be seen was exactly that, a struggle, so to have more than one voice speaking about these issues means the world to me (plus we got Laverne Cox on our team).