The more work I do in Queer and QTPOC communities the more I realize there is a need to go over the basics of social justice. Without an understanding of the dynamics working between the various groups that live under the Queer umbrella, and the history that created these dynamics, it is not possible to advance the state of our community.
This ranges from an understanding of intersectionality to an understanding of the effects each action taken by the community has in other communities. It is easy for many people to prioritize one identity over another, or to develop a view of social justice that places Queerness as the most important issue. This must be changed if the wounds in our community, those caused by decades of erasure, silencing, and exclusion, are ever to be healed. These wounds are not some abstraction from our lives, occupying the realm of theory, nor are they historical facts that no longer have any impact; they affect us all at one point. They are present in the Gay clubs that cater to a white crowd, they are obvious in organizations that lack Trans people, and they reign in spaces that have been created to be open to everyone yet find themselves dominated by a single group. An understanding of power and privilege, the foundation of all social justice work, can easily explain these circumstances and that is the first step in altering them.
This process is long and difficult, there is no denying that. Deciding to embark on this path requires a kind of self-reflection different from any other, because you will find parts of yourself that you will embrace and other parts of yourself you will want to despise. Maybe authors like Audre Lorde or bloggers like Caroline Narby, who writes “Double Rainbow”, and s.e. smith, who runs “This Ain’t Livin’”, will make you aware of privilege you didn’t realize that you carried, and that is always the most demanding part of this process. I believe that this stage is what causes many people to shy away from this work, because the acknowledgement of privilege can cause guilt and shame, but it is something that is necessary to undertake.
But don’t worry too much, there is another half to this process that includes finding a community and a history you didn’t realize you were a part of. Maybe you’ll find a home in Gloria Anzaldua’s “Borderlands”, or with the Crunk Feminist Collective; maybe you didn’t know about people like Sass Sasot, a Transwoman in the Philippines who created the first Trans organization in that country, or Adelina Anthony, a Chicana Lesbian whose plays celebrate the fierceness of Queer Latin@s, but you will find them and many others as you dig deeper into social justice.
This is not an attempt to call anyone out, this is me asking for your help. In the current political climate, every marginalized community is facing a struggle different from any that has come before, and it is my belief that if we do not unite we will not be successful in fighting this oppression. It is also my belief that Queer people have a responsibility to each other and the greater community to educate themselves on the multitude of issues that affect the different parts of our community, even, and I would say especially, if it is not an issue that affects you personally.