Friday, June 22, 2012


As national PRIDE month is slowly drawing to a close and the weekend parades, festivals and get-togethers are coming to a close, I am finding myself slightly torn about the whole thing. On one hand, there is the initial reaction of "Woohoo!" that I have as a bisexual woman involved with my local LGBTQ community; then there is the "Ugh, really?" reaction I have as a bisexual woman reading the obligatory rehashings of 'progress' in LGBTQ rights and community.

I have this reaction due to the nature of the articles that these writers are creating to relay the history of LGBTQ rights and communities and individuals. The articles center around the plights of gay white men, completely whitewashing history. If you knew nothing of LGBTQ history or culture, just based on reading these articles you would most likely think that there were no such thing as LGBTQ women or people of color that made significant contributions to rights progressions and society as a whole.

This is a real shame, given the struggles within the community for decades between white gay men and every other demographic in the community. Progress has been made, and particularly with my generation their is fairly general acceptance of the validity of each person's given sexuality or gender identity. And while I come from a place of relative privilege, I have encountered the frustrating tendency even within my own generation to be casually dismissive of bisexuality and people of color.

Part of this I understand; as in society on the whole, it is white men that hold the power. As such, it is fairly easy when paying lip-service to PRIDE month, that the media look for white men who just so happen to be gay. This makes the national coverage of 'gay holiday' a bit easier to stomach for the general populace. After all, major network television shows such as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, How I Met Your Mother and Will & Grace have nearly (if not) exclusively featured white men as their token gay characters.

The problem with the media continuing this pattern during PRIDE month is that it ends up undermining the whole point of PRIDE celebrations to begin with, as well as further cements the pattern of solely acknowledging the dominant group during special recognition time frames. The entire point of PRIDE is to show that no matter how different we may look or act, no matter the differences in lifestyle or political affiliation, we are all human, and we deserve to be treated as such. When the media chooses to only acknowledge the dominant group, it reinforces the power structures that oppressed the group receiving recognition in the first place. When recognizing Black History Month, it is the male leaders that are lauded; for Women's History Month, white women make the headlines.

Obviously, this does not happen 100% of the time, as there are exceptions. But the overwhelming frequency with which the media chooses one kind of face to represent dynamic and complex demographics in social justice movements narrows those movements, undermines them, and reinforces long held prejudices both within and beyond those communities being recognized.

No comments:

Post a Comment