February 25, 2017 at 3:09 pm EDT | by Anika Simpson
Pride march must include people of color in key roles
LGBT march, gay news, Washington Blade, National Pride March

The Women’s March on Washington (Photo by Brandon Hankey)

The Women’s March on Washington drew massive crowds intent upon sending a clear message of resistance to the incoming political regime. This demonstration has been widely heralded as a powerful symbol of women’s collective dissent. But many women of color viewed it with wary skepticism from the very beginning — forcefully denouncing our absence in its leadership.

The damage of this marginalization was not overcome when the dynamic trio of feminists of color joined as National Co-Chairs. Many women of color opted to stay home. As noted writer, Jamilah Lemieux, put it, “I’m really tired of Black and Brown women routinely being tasked with fixing White folks’ messes. I’m tired of being the moral compass of the United States.”    

Now history appears to be repeating itself. The upcoming National Pride March is following the same racially problematic script as the Women’s March. Unfortunately, it’s a familiar script: white organizers plan an event on behalf of an entire community and then invite input from people of color after key decisions have been made.

One may question the criticism of this script. Isn’t this how inclusive leadership operates? Isn’t it enough just to ensure that all stakeholders have a seat at the table?

Having a seat at the proverbial table isn’t exactly a bad thing, but within diverse political movements the seat alone remains problematic. The planning committee has offered seats after the table has been set and the appetizers have been served. Put differently: a guest is not a partner. A guest departs when it’s time to tidy up, or make future plans, or decide whom to invite to the next meal.

Without significant structural and behavioral change, this march — ostensibly proposed to unify the LGBTQIA community and motivate sustained political action — has ironically left many queer people of color (QPOC) on the planning committee feeling more alienated than before.

As a queer black feminist displaced within mainstream feminist and LGBTQIA movements, I will lend my suggestions to the chorus of QPOC advocating for equity within the proposed march.

Decentering whiteness is the first step toward rectifying our alienation. Our shared belonging within the LGBTQIA community is not a singularly unifying factor. We are not immune from the racism and xenophobia that runs rampant in this country. From our vantage point, the mainstream queer community offers no safe haven to the racially marginalized. This is a pivotal moment for non-QPOC to check their white privilege and commence the hard work of addressing their positionality within white supremacy.

In practical terms, I would suggest forming a planning committee that includes respected QPOC advocates as National Co-Chairs. It is grossly inadequate to maintain white senior leadership that merely consults with QPOC. Meaningful inclusion requires sharing decision making authority, not simply offering seats while stifling the voices of those who take them.

One cannot guarantee that this necessary shift will compel QPOC en masse to participate in the march. Centuries of institutional racism cannot be redressed in a few months of planning, or even by a few hours of hand holding on the National Mall. However, heeding the sentiments of QPOC may be a critical first step toward signaling to wary and skeptical QPOC that our voices have not only been heard, but have, more importantly, been heeded.

We have an amazing opportunity to galvanize the progressive political energy of the moment to work collectively and strategically to demand the unfettered recognition of our shared humanity. I hope this opportunity is not squandered in the months leading up to the march or in its wake when the true political work is undertaken.

Anika Simpson, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy at Morgan State University. She serves as the coordinator of MSU’s Women’s and Gender Studies program. She is also co-chair of the National Black Justice Coalition’s HBCU LGBTQ-Equality Initiative Advisory Council. Follower her on Twitter @anikamaaza.

  • Jake GG

    The leadership and goals definitely need to be intersectional. I’d like to see some of their goals. Right now, as far as I’ve seen, it’s just a facebook page/group with a date in mind.

    I imagine once they get to the state of having a website up, having a listserv sending out updates and next steps in the planning for groups travelling up, once they have policy documents up for what they stand for, once they have details on solidarity marches around the country, then some serious organizing around this can happen.

    I’m strongly considering going, but I need it to be more than a facebook page before I’ll commit. I also hope they’ll get specific in policy goals and next steps they support like supporting the Equality Act, ending the gay/bi blood ban, encouraging LGBTQ folks to run for office, supporting policies to help the most vulnerable parts of the community, and more. But get specific on policy goals and how we can win elections.

  • Count Dracula

    As long as it’s not too black

  • Stephen Macias

    That is our inherent premise here on the West Coast for our Resist March inspired by D.C. A release we issued yesterday..

    GAY SOCIAL NETWORKING APP HORNET BECOMES INFORMATION PLATFORM FOR LGBTQ RESISTANCE MARCHES

    Information aggregation to begin with Los Angeles’s West Coast protest; app also plans to support protests in New York City, Washington D.C. and other locales throughout 2017

    March 1, 2017 (SAN FRANCISCO) – Hornet, the world’s premier gay social network, has joined forces with LGBTQ grassroots activists across the country to serve as a crucial hub for resistance marches and protest information. Hornet, which recently became the first gay app to merge events, original content and social networking, will now provide critical logistical information to millions of active users who are interested in marching against the Trump Administration’s discriminatory policies. Hornet will launch this initiative with #ResistMarch an LA Pride Project that will take place in Los Angeles on June 11, 2017.

    With a trusted brand reputation amongst its community, Hornet will be sharing content and information through push notifications. Additional protest march logistics will be pushed out to members of the LGBTQ community seeking information about when and where marches are being held, how to participate, and how to connect with others that share a commitment to social justice. Users can then share the content with their network, including editorial, photos and additional event information.

    “Unlike other gay apps, we recognize gay culture goes deeper than just a passing moment. Hornet was designed to stay connected and build community. As part of our on-going advocacy partnerships and health initiatives, we are proud to become the trusted content and news source for our community and its allies gathering information to create change,” explained Hornet’s CEO Christof Wittig.

    Hornet’s President Sean Howell noted, “The voice of our generation is amplified through social media and, because of it, we can connect millions of LGBTQ people across the globe. Now, more than ever, we need to rally, gather and connect to ensure our rights are not stripped away. Our goal is for Hornet to be the information platform for the LGBTQ community for the #ResistMarch participants starting in Los Angeles and then for additional marches across the country and world.”

    Brian Pendleton, #ResistMarch founder and member of Christopher Street West’s board of directors, said, “When any marginalized group’s rights are under threat, all our rights are threatened. We must march to remind the world that this is about basic human rights and dignity. We are grateful to the Hornet team for working with us and others to share information about where and how we gather. And, more importantly, we are excited that Hornet understands and supports why we must gather.”

    Pendleton created a Facebook event on January 26, 2017, encouraging the LGBTQ community and its allies to take a stand and participate in Los Angeles’s “#ResistMarch for LGBTQ+ and People of Color Equality,” set for June 11, 2017, which coincides with the National LGBTQ March on Washington D.C. In less than 24 hours, over 23,000 Facebook users expressed interest in the event and began sharing it with their networks.

    Hornet will now work to support marches across the United States and the world at no cost to the organizers. The additional destinations include support for protest marches planned in both New York City and Washington D.C. to correspond with their scheduled Pride Festivals.

    For more information, visit Hornet’s website or download the free app, available for iOS and Android.

    About Hornet Networks

    Hornet is the world’s premier gay social network. Founded in 2011 with the mission to provide gay men the opportunity for meaningful connections, Hornet has grown to 18 million total users, creating a community that comes together around shared experience and common interests. Hornet provides a superior user experience and is number one in the key markets of France, Russia, Brazil, Turkey and Taiwan, and is consistently expanding its sizable user base in the United States. For more information, please visit: http://love.hornetapp.com.

    ABOUT CHRISTOPHER STREET WEST (CSW) & LA PRIDE

    Christopher Street West (CSW), a 501(c)3 non-profit, organized the world’s first permitted parade advocating for gay rights on June 28, 1970, as a response to and in commemoration of the Stonewall Rebellion on Christopher Street in New York City the year prior. Since then, we have built a rich history as an active voice for the LGBTQ+ community across the Greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. And today, we continue to produce the LA Pride Parade and Festival every June in the City of West Hollywood. We also organize a number of events throughout the year with our non-profit, philanthropic, community, and corporate partners. Visit lapride.org for more information.

    ###

    Contact:

    Mark Umbach

    MWWPR

    mumbach@mww.com

    Shayne Thomas

    CSW

    shayne@lapride.org

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