The Lie of Inclusion, Pt. 2: White Queer Negligence
I have been told by some white members of my own queer Christian community that my voice is hostile and that by calling out racism in queer spaces, that I am creating division and creating unsafe spaces for queer people who are white and/or conservative. I have even been told that my voice makes it harder for LGBTQ folks to gain acceptance by the straight conservative Christians who don’t understand us.
Criticisms such as these coming from within the queer community come from places of unaddressed privilege.
When someone tells you that your voice is hostile, the implication is that their voice is safe and trustworthy while yours is aggressive and unruly. But what about calling out racism is aggressive or unruly? What is the difference between their voice and mine?
Melanin. The answer is melanin.
While my vocal tones do not carry color, they do carry history. They carry a lived experience of one who is marginalized by others who are marginalized. They carry the reality that I have faced threats of physical harm simply for existing as I exist in this world. They carry the weight of not being accepted by many within my own racial group, not being fully embraced by those who share my sexual identity, and not being fully embraced by those who share my faith. My voice carries the centuries of black people being seen and treated as property; utterly dispensable by a world that never wanted us- not even by others who have been vehemently rejected throughout history.
I am often told by white gay teachers and scholars that they are looking for people of color to speak about their experiences, but interestingly enough, they seldom want to hear my experiences because my experiences inherently suggest that the necessity of diversity points to the white supremacy they have worked to establish by only featuring white perspectives on platforms that they have built. My experience tells them that no rainbow-colored flag can erase their whitewashing of queer expression or the gatekeeping that occurs within queer spaces, especially queer Christian spaces.
Marginalized voices are experienced as attacks by those clinging to power and privilege. My voice and my realities are experienced as attacks by many white LGBTQ people because I speak a truth that they do not have access to. My voice and my experiences are deemed divisive and unsafe by those whose hearts are not in a place to understand. Rather than working to engage queer black and brown voices, many choose to exclude us from the conversation either by willful choice or by their own unseen biases.
White queer folks will often say “We want to include black and brown perspectives,” but what they should say is “We are looking to confirm our own understanding of what it means to be queer.”
And that is their choice. That is their freedom. The freedom to ignore voices that challenge their worldview. Their white worldview. Not everyone gets to make that choice. I pray that influential white queer people would make the decision to listen in the face of difficulty because after all, if they gain acceptance due to their distance from other, less widely accepted marginalized people, is the acceptance worth reaching for?
What does it profit them to gain the whole world and lose their soul?”
– Mark 8:36, NRSV