Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Are LGBTs more oppressed than other minorities?

My roommate posed this question earlier this morning during a broader conversation about oppression and which group suffers more in this country. It is arguably unproductive to compare the oppression one group, such as people of color, to that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or other people may face in this country or others around the world. These comparisons amount to comparing apples and oranges. They lose sight of the myriad of underlying complexities involved around oppression, how it is imposed upon a particular group and its broader impact.

Some of the most overly racist people I have met are unfortunately white gay men who all too often forget they too are subject to discrimination and even oppression. They remain unable to marry their partner in 49 states. These same men cannot serve openly in the United States military, and they cannot even donate blood to the American Red Cross because of their sexual orientation. The list of things these men are unable to do goes on and on, but they apparently forget the oppression to which they are arguably subject in their own oppression of others with a different skin color or background.

The purpose behind the previous example is to highlight the hierarchy of oppression that inherently exists within a particular group. This reality is a small piece of a much broader reality within American society and others around the world. One can quickly argue it remains a sad irony for gay men, such as those mentioned in the previous example, to perpetuate oppression against others while they face their own discrimination. And it also arguably concludes power dynamics and struggle remains alive and well within LGBT America as it does throughout society.

1 comment:

Nick said...

We are more oppressed IN SOME WAYS, i.e. not being able to marry or get benefits when we are loving and nurturing a family just like anyone else, and in terms of living in closets just because we fear for our safety (or employability) if people know we are gay. But we are not necessarily, as a community, suffering the same LONG TERM discrimination that African Americans have suffered for centuries.
Nevertheless, we should not hesitate to take advantage, in other ways, of our status as wretched outcastes. I think it was a conversation between David Frost and James Baldwin that produced this classic quip:
Frost: "You were poor, you were black, you were homosexual. Did you ever think you had everything going against you?"
Baldwin: "On the contrary, I thought I'd hit the jackpot."