The Most Concerning Issue in the Queer Community
In my most humble, honest, and respectful opinion the most pressing issue within the queer community is the way that minorities are treated socially and politically. Within the community trans people, and Queer People of Color are left without role models, without support, and without adult leaders to turn to. This lack of representation in leadership results in diminished political voice. Due to this the media perceives that the most pressing issue on the “gay agenda” is same sex marriage. That leaves homeless queer youth, trans safety/rights, and academic support in the closet.
On a personal level being a part of the queer community, and the native community, I have experienced the suppression, tokenization, and sexualization of my identity. As a berdache person, cultural traditions, spirituality, and sexuality are all one. But within most queer communities the majority population is still white, and their perception of my identity, nine times out of ten, is boiled down to whether or not I’m sexually active with another male. My spirituality, and identity as a two spirit person which literally means someone with the spirit of a man and a woman, is snuffed out. Experiences like this force Queer People of Color out of groups, out of “safe spaces.”
When queer people of color try to engage with the larger queer community we face the over sexualization of, and casual racism towards, people of color in dominantly white spaces. I have sat in a GSA where I was the only non white person, and let me tell you I squirmed. Being tokenized and asked to speak for all queer native people, and then how quickly the conversation can turn to a sickening chatter of how poc are objects.
While the fetishization of People of Color is not an issue exclusive to the Queer community, it is a barrier that is particularly harmful in a movement so linked to gender and sexuality. The racism tied up in the lust for People of Color and their bodies becomes written off as simple sexual fantasy. I have listened to the stories of gay boys brag about how they have dated “half the rainbow.” They have searched for other queer men of various racial backgrounds, just for the sex. As if “doing it” with them was something that had been conquered, a mission achieved, another poc targeted to be colonization.
The casual racism within our own community is poisonous and dangerously leisure. We are breaking down and harming our own people and furthermore denying their identity and even so objectifying them, not seeing us as people. This is one of the largest issues in the queer community because it turns our community into an elite group of only white queers. We are a group made up of various minority groups, we need to be acknowledged and accepted by each other. If we fail to do so we are never going to successfully fight for our rights, our freedom, and our lives in this world.
Andrew (Drew) Gregory was born in Montana, but he has spent roughly the last ten years of his life in metropolitan Seattle, Washington. He attended and graduated from Highline Big Picture High School, First Peoples Center, in Burien, Washington. The first Two Spirit QF Scholar, Andrew traces his paternal ancestry to the Blackfeet, Lakota, and Cherokee peoples. Andrew is described by his principal as “among the top 1% to ever attend our school”–an opinion shared by his English teacher and advisor. From his freshman year, he also proved to be the school’s most effective student leader. He founded the Native Student Alliance (NSA) and worked closely with faculty and administrators in the development of a Native American curriculum for the entire school district of more than 17,000 students. He also helped create “a monthly district-wide Native Family meeting” that convinced the district’s superintendent to improve district resources for Native American students and their families. Andrew also founded “The Closet Crashers,” the district’s GSA. Among other activities of The Closet Crashers undertaken under his leadership were an annual Drag Days, a Day of Silence, and the establishment of an after-school LGBTQ youth support group at a local community center. In addition he receives considerable praise both as a poet and as a photographer. Andrew will attend Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where he will major in photography and Native American Studies. His essay, “The Most Concerning Issue in the Queer Community,” was the co-winner of the 2014 Queer Foundation essay contest and is reprinted by permission of the author and the Queer Foundation Effective Writing and Scholarships Program.