Since my (re)posting and celebrating the issues raised in Llanor Alleyne’s TheLoop21.com’s Some People of Color Aren’t Wedded to the Idea of Gay Marriage article onTumblr, Facebook, and Twitter, I’ve received several personal notes basically questioning my belief in Marriage Equality.
Personally, I’m in favor of marriage equality for anyone who wants to get married, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. I’m enraged that something so fundamental isn’t a federal law; and we have to do this state by state by state. It’s egregious and should be unacceptable. At the same time, I’m very aware that marriage equality doesn’t mean FREEDOM for LGBT people. As a Black feminist lesbian, I don’t want to have to get married to get health insurance. WTF?!?! That should be a right for all… And, I’m aware that health insurance isn’t the only benefit received in marriage. I’m only using that as an example because so many people point to it.
My issue and concern is the inherent racism in the mainstream LGBT movement(S)… I think we can and should celebrate the victories while also holding folks accountable for their ongoing racist marginalization in the name of ending oppression. I view Llanor’s article as one way (not the only way) to hold folks accountable… I’m appreciative of her presenting dissenting voices. No, her article doesn’t speak for everyone, but it does speak for many whose voices aren’t usually heard in this discussion, most especially in the mainstream media.
It reminds me of the (now) age-old discussion on the word feminist, an identity which I PROUDLY claim. At the same time, I know many Black, Latina, Asian, Arab, Indigenous women who wouldn’t be caught dead using that term and it’s not because they don’t believe in gender equality, or because their succumbing to patriarchy/sexism. It’s because of the herstorical and contemporary reality of racism in the mainstream (read, white) feminist movement. While I don’t agree with their assessment, I understand the place from which they stand.
If there aren’t spaces for us to have these sometimes painfully difficult dialogues, then we will not get anywhere… We need to have spaces for dialogue between dissenting voices with the goal of getting people to consider different opinions… The goal is not to be right, at least I strive for it not to be with me. The goal should be to change people’s behavior.