WhiteWashed: The Exclusion of Persons of Color in the Modern LGBT Rights Movement and Media

As the modern gay rights movement  narrowed the LGBT political framework, it has excluded numerous LGBT Americans, defying the movement’s initial inclusionary aims. Although gay marriage was by no means a legal possibility for gay rights advocates in the 1950’s and 1960’s, their framework of recognition and equality includes the eventual extension of all rights and privileges of heterosexual Americans to homosexual Americans. As a result, one may compare the inclusiveness and overall recognition of the modern LGBT movement to the movement of the 1950’s.

Currently, the gay rights movement has failed to LGBT people of color in its initiatives. Although the modern movement accepts LGBT people of color more inclusively, it has not actively pursued policies supporting these groups. Arguably, the gay marriage movement, the most prominent LGBT issue, cannot focus on blacks, as government reports, like the 1965 Moynihan Report, paint African American families as dysfunctional.

Until the American government legitimizes African American relationships, same-sex marriage remains an impossible task for persons of color. Meanwhile, issues relating to persons of color, like LGBT homelessness and LGBT immigration reform, remain off the movement’s primary agenda. Homophobia remains rampant in rap music and gay rights groups employ few persons of color in leadership positions.[2]As the movement has shoved LGBT people of color aside, LGBT persons of color have been forced to organize separately from the primary gay rights movement. The formation of an underground ball culture, thriving in the 1990’s, suggests that blacks have utilized the ballroom scene as a means to cope with exclusion from the mainstream gay culture.

Evidently, the gay rights movement has ignored the early call for inclusion given the marginalization of minorities within the movement. Though one may argue that the gay rights movement stopped addressing visibility because it completed its goal, the subjugation of gay people of color illustrates the need to make other LGBT issues salient and visible. In narrowing the political framework from recognition to policy-specific needs, the gay rights movement excludes part of the LGBT community.

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