White people have a duty to speak up and use our privilege to support Black Lives Matter — and that applies double to the white LGBTQ2+ community.
By remaining silent during the recent Black Lives Matter protests, the white LGBTQ2+ community is doing a huge disservice to the trans women of colour, like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvie Rivera, who fought for their rights at Stonewall and throughout the early years of the gay rights movement.
No matter how many times I check my social media feed, I see that the white LGBTQ2+ people I follow have largely remained silent about the police violence and brutality at the forefront of media coverage.
But this isn’t the first time that the LGBTQ2+ community has had a problem with intersectionality, and it’s not likely to be the last.
When I spoke out against Toronto Pride’s decision to allow cops to march in the parade, despite the vocal wishes of queer people of colour, I was ridiculed by my white gay peers. They told me I was being homophobic and intolerant for thinking that a group of people who wanted to “support the community” didn’t belong at Pride.
I am appropriately disappointed, but not surprised, that the vast majority of my white LGBTQ2+ peers have done nothing for the Black Lives Matter movement — unless you count posting a single black square on Instagram.
I am even less surprised that, when I asked people if they were donating to any cause, I was met with a resounding chorus of “no.” I have to wonder, how can people who could afford to buy custom Pride clothes for a parade that isn’t even happening, be unable to donate $10 to a black LGBTQ2+ organization like the Marsha P. Johnson Institute?
And I am not shocked by the number of LGBTQ2+ people I know who are outrightly against any radical action, despite the roots of the gay rights movement, and Pride itself originating as riots. The same group that consistently complained about being unable to march in corporate-sponsored Pride Parade this year are now complaining about people being allowed to march in support of ending racial injustice.
If you want to march against injustice, you have an opportunity to, and — if you’re able-bodied and part of the white LGBTQ2+ community — your outright refusal to do so does a disservice to queer history.
The fact is, white LGBTQ2+ folks seem to forget their own history. The symbolic “first brick” thrown at Stonewall wasn’t thrown at a window, or a building, or an inanimate object by someone white — it was thrown at a cop and thrown by a trans woman of colour, no matter which account you subscribe to.
The famed brick was thrown as a reaction to centuries of violence and oppression instigated against the LGBTQ2+ community by systems like police. If it hadn't been for trans women of colour rioting against police brutality and for gay rights, it is unlikely that the white LGBTQ2+ community would currently enjoy the rights and freedoms that it does today.
It’s our turn, as white LGBTQ2+ people, to stand up for what’s right. Not acting in solidarity with communities facing the same oppression we did — and in part still do — is a disservice to activists like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Miss Major. LGBTQ2+ and Black politics are deeply intertwined, and ignoring the intersection of oppression hurts both movements.
White LGBTQ2+ people have a responsibility to stand up and do whatever is in their power to support the Black community.
Whether it’s something as small as sharing resources and donating your spare change to anti-Black racism groups, or as large as using your white privilege to physically protect Black protestors from cops, feigning ignorance and remaining silent is not an option.