Words by Anthony Lorenzo | @ringolorenzo

Is there racism in the gay community? Yes, because hatred and fear and loathing, spite and routine, irrationality and misoneism; these things infect everywhere. Yet people often believe their proximity to a particular oppression negates the need to actively understand oppression that affects other groups. 

Empathy handled so capriciously is easily squashed. Advantage, when you’ve been robbed of even more of it, can breed resentment. You can end up in such a cloud of dissonance you use the shield, say, whiteness provides, to inure yourself from the misery of others.

So we get groups of people who ‘should know better’ indulging in the ‘isms’ like they’re going out of fashion, right as they come back in. There is a backlash against the backlash against cis white male supremacy. This group senses that its historical right as the hallowed default for everything is being systematically chipped away at. It does not care that this diversifying is good, because losing power doesn’t feel good. The information age, with its dissemination of facts, fake facts, and multiple persuasive counterculture arguments that become accessible because the internet democratises, has woken everyone up to the biases mainstream media subjects us to.

It’s a rallying cry nonetheless, that delivered the White House to a leader of its ugliest excesses. The shocking, unimaginable resulting Trump-as-President just wasn’t that shocking or unimaginable for non-white people. Stories surfacing suggesting people regret voting for Trump now may elicit a sense of revelling in other’s misfortune, but not much, because if the turning of this tide is horrific for minorities and the marginalised, it’s ultimately manageable if you’re cushioned. 

How can the gay community itself combat the growing normatively-led extremism taking over a disintegrating Europe, a regressive America, an unspeakable Chechnya? Does a growing repoliticisation of disparate groups throughout the country and world-at-large provide the answer to shoring up the gay community’s hard-won but easily lost claim to be a bastion of queer inclusivity? Can the historical narrative depicted in Pride, which saw the queer community take on the struggles of the miners, be repeated with Black Lives Matter? 

Depoliticisation in the gay community is partly a result of battles won. We’ve come a long way, and when one can finally get married, the feeling of equality is easily maintained, not least by its discernibility in statutes and on the streets. Previous victorious fights, on Section 28, consent laws, our sanity, and our growing visibility in culture, on television, in cinema and literature, have meant we’re more able to adopt a life free from draining battles than ever before, at least in the UK. And wasn’t that one of the aims? To make future roads less rocky? 

Now though, perhaps geopolitics, with its rising extremism, concentration camps, interventions in wars by megalomaniacs with too many weapons at their disposal, all echoes of the build-up to world wars, and the more complex linking of these horrors due to globalisation and the information age, is a call to arms. Communities that believed they’d finally won the right to relax may now have to dust off the rage and accept that it’s needed again. With shadows of Nazism dancing on the walls again in front of you, you cannot pretend racism has been banished. If it’s a step too far to link spraying racial epithets on walls to Grindr ‘preferences’, just consider that a cyber-wall is still a wall. 

Queer identity is naturally inclusive because the unifying marker, queerness, sets no store in age, class, race, gender, ability, in any type of person. When we hear that gay men are being captured and killed in concentration camps in Chechnya, evidence of where this psychotic wave of illiberalism ends mounting before our eyes, we’re cognisant of the need to protest, and more, we become enraged, scared.

The same thing is happening in many places in the world. We need to use these emotions to do more than mutter about them at dinner. It’s time for a mass-repoliticisation of the gay community, which might happily spill over into more inclusive attitudes, full stop.