Friday, August 20, 2010

A shared future?

Originally posted on the Washington Blade

As a gay man, I no longer worry as much about the place and future of lesbians and gays in American society.

As more people get to know us — their sisters, brothers, parents, neighbors and coworkers — and learn that we are not that different, I am confident that it will be a matter of years, not generations, before we gain rights and protections other citizens take for granted.

As an immigrant and person of color, however, I am not as optimistic. There is such raw animus and unabashed prejudice against newcomers and their American families simply because they don’t look, sound, dress, act or worship like most of us.

Laws and policies that institutionalize racial profiling have become the de facto solution to the complex problem of immigration. Amending the Constitution has also been embraced as a palliative, now palatable to those who would otherwise have held the document as static and sacrosanct.

The idea of a community center a couple of blocks away from the former World Trade Center is causing such a furor. The president’s defense of our fundamental right to practice religion has led a White House spokeperson to say:

“…the president is obviously a — is Christian. He prays every day. He communicates with his religious advisor every single day. There’s a group of pastors that he takes counsel from on a regular basis. And his faith is very important to him.”

The gap between the haves and have-nots continues to widen. The income disparity between the wealthiest people and the rest of us has more than tripled during the last three decades. American women overall earn less than men, but African American women and Latinas make far less. More African Americans and Latinos are unemployed than White Americans. One in every four black Americans is underemployed.

As a queer person of color, I am anxious about the place and future of minority LGBT people. I worry about those of us do not look, sound, dress, act or live like everybody else. These are members of our community who do not have the resources, voice or power some of us enjoy due to the accident of birth and circumstance. These are Americans who remain in the margins.

It will be up to those of us who are joining the mainstream and are looking forward to better days not to forget those who are left behind.

You can follow me on Twitter at @ErwindeLeon.

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