August 27, 2009

White Privilege in the LGBT Community?

I hope you've seen that we don't hesitate to post potentially controversal pieces here, primarily because I want to stimulate conversation and get people thinking, including ourselves. This is another one of those type of essays.

Chris MacDonald-Dennis has a blog titled "The Pink Pink Elephant." He has a recent post where he asks "Whose Community Is It Anyway?" MacDonald-Dennis believes the existance of "white privilege" is undermining the LGBT community. Here is an excerpt:

Whiteness in the LGBT community is everywhere, from what we see, what we experience, and more importantly, what we desire. Media images in television and film promote a monolithic image of the 'gay community' as being overwhelmingly upper-middle class if not simply rich, male and white. Even the most cursory glance through gay publications highlights the scarcity of images of people of color. If we are represented, it seems that we only exist to serve the needs of the largely gay white population seeking an 'authentic' experience of some kind, either through sex, music or travel. To the white LGBT community, our existence as LGBT people of color, is merely an afterthought, an inconvenient fact that is thought about in the most insignificant and patronizing way.

We must continue to grapple with the ways invisible whiteness and white privilege permeate the LGBT community because they undermine our movement. Recently, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, released a report aimed at gaining a deeper understanding about the complexities at the intersection of race, sexual orientation and gender identity. I applaud HRC for this study and the subsequent blog conversations and online town halls they are holding. I hope, though, that HRC discusses white privilege as a part of this work. If they do not, the work will be incomplete. Paula Rothenberg, a professor who specializes in studying whiteness, reminds us that white privilege is the other side of the racial oppression coin. HRC, and other groups that are attempting to be more inclusive, cannot truly look at why people of color are not involved in the larger movement if they do not examine white privilege. It's time for white LGBT folk to challenge their own privilege, listen to all voices and take on the issues that matter to all of us.

Click here to read the rest of the post and add your comment below to weigh in on this topic. How much of this do you think is caused by the strongly anti-gay feelings often expressed within the African-American community? I believe that is probably an important factor.


  1. Uh, no. Black people don't generate white privilege by virtue of being purportedly "anti-gay."

  2. We're obviously not saying that. We suspect, however, that if support were stronger in the African-American community, especially in the church, that would be a stronger to "white privilege."