Tuesday, October 4

Where have all the gay white men gone?

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I used to sit around and wonder where the Black gay men were. I never wondered where the gay white men were: they seemed to be everywhere.

White lesbians were few,but they existed and where they existed they were making things happen.

Black lesbians were a rarity, gems only to be heard of but seldom ever seen.

Others? What others? They didn’t exist.

Things have changed. My locations have changed: from New York to Atlanta to Columbus, Ohio to San Francisco, and now back to Columbus. My jobs have changed:thank goodness finally for the better. My significant others have changed: joy! I’ve changed: the best change there is. Our community has changed: from them to us.

I’m seeing more Black gay men: still few and far between, but I see me.

I see white lesbians: they’re still around making things happen.

Black lesbians are being seen and seen in public positions of leadership: we see you.

Others? They exist!! These last few years, the beautiful human diversity of our intersectional queer community has been such a wonderful thing to witness and champion on a public stage, in full view of all to see.

Centering the conversation on different identities isn’t diminishing of identities; it’s creating space to uplift the identities that haven’t always been publicly included in the conversation and thus sadly not considered by others–even those within our intersectional communities.

Has the fight against HIV/AIDS only been about one segment of the population? Was marriage equality only about one group within the rainbow? What about workplace protections? The Equality Act?

I am thankful for this moment and space in time. I’m being seen…more so, I am being heard. We, the diversity of our spectrum, are being seen…we are being heard.

But it’s not been a grand welcome thusfar. According to the Human Rights Campaign, already in 2022 “more than 266 anti-LGBTQ+ bills [are]under consideration in state legislatures across the country.”

The privilege of the white gay male is that the queer fight has always been centered on them and so they have never had to consider an othered or less than feeling. They have been the “palatable identity” for the masses because the societies in which we live had been controlled by them.

The problem for everyone else is that, in our societies, if you’re not specifically talking about an identity, then that means you’re not thinking, intentionally, about that identity. If we are not talking about a country where they are not experiencing turmoil, are we thinking, intentionally, about that country? Likely not.

In this new season of our fight for LGBTQ+ liberation, we have publicly, intentionally, expanded those who we say we’re fighting for and, yes, we’re fighting for you gay white man.

So where have you gone, gay white men?

We’re still fighting for your ability to have access to life saving and sustaining HIV/AIDS medication. We’re still fighting for your right to create a family of your own choosing. We’re still fighting for you to have full and equal protections under the law.

We’re still thinking about you–don’t forget these are the houses that you built–we’re just working on a remodel. And I don’t know about you, but I love being able to talk about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we are going. It all matters.

Gay white men, please don’t retreat believing that these words are an attack on you. This is just a moment of recognition and space-making. This is a moment for gay white men to step into this space that has been made, to use their privilege to power the fight for all the various identities within the wonderful rainbow spectrum of our queer community.

Gay white men, I know you’re still here…I lay my head and my heart next to one every night.

And, while cis-women have traditionally funded the various fights within the queer community in larger numbers, it has been gay white men that have written bigger checks. Don’t stop writing bigger checks…that’s part of your privilege.

Gay white men, more than ever, now is the time to leverage whatever privilege you have in very intentional and public ways to the benefit of all: the “others” in this queer fight who have made this space. Now is the time to use your voice more publicly in support of the others and the othered who are by your side and who have been here all along. 🔥 

About Author

Densil Porteous is the Executive Director/CEO of Stonewall Columbus. He has over 20 years engaging in nonprofit work as a volunteer and leader, at local and national levels, primarily working with organizations focused on issues of equity and access. Porteous’ nonprofit service work has been with groups like Advocates for Youth (Board Secretary), Human Rights Campaign (Board of Directors; former national Board of Governors), Equitas Health (Board Vice Chair), the Legacy Fund of the Columbus Foundation, and Create Columbus Commission (Chair).

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