The other virus rav­aging At­lanta’s queer com­mu­nity

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Re­cently, I was able to be a part of a move­ment that re­sulted in an amend­ment to the Ma­con-Bibb Char­ter and Code of Or­di­nances that now pro­hibits dis­crim­i­na­tion in pub­lic em­ploy­ment on the ba­sis of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity. We marched and ral­lied to­gether in parks, crowded out the county com­mis­sion cham­ber and worked with our lo­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives to make a change. Al­though mid­dle Ge­or­gia has a long road ahead in the fight for equal­ity, the only pre­req­ui­site to our ef­forts was that we wanted change. It was a group ef­fort, bound by love of each other.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from col­lege, I set my sights on At­lanta. I thought re­lo­cat­ing my

Au­gust 18, 2017

base could present a larger field of op­por­tu­ni­ties to make a dif­fer­ence, but I soon found my­self nav­i­gat­ing an ex­haust­ing so­cial scene mired in su­per­fi­cial­ity and priv­i­lege. More and more, I ended up at events in the name of queer lib­er­a­tion that felt more like a poorly veiled ex­cuse to net­work with pretty white masc gay men over cock­tails. The only way to gar­ner any at­ten­tion was to talk about my ed­u­ca­tion or past suc­cesses. Im­me­di­ately, I be­gan to miss the heart of the move­ment I felt in Ma­con where peo­ple rec­og­nized that lives are at stake; where sig­nif­i­cant progress was made and laws were changed. I didn’t have to stroke any egos, nor did I have to present my­self in a suit.

Al­though At­lanta may be more pro­gres­sive than its coun­ter­parts through­out the state, the queer com­mu­nity is still plagued with the same so­ci­etal ills that we claim to fight. Why is it that our black and brown trans fam­ily mem­bers have his­tor­i­cally been the lead­ers of queer lib­er­a­tion, but are still the last ones to re­ceive any credit or op­por­tu­ni­ties? Why are those with­out the back­ing and sup­port of sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial as­sets bar­ri­caded from lead­er­ship in ad­vo­cacy and po­lit­i­cal plat­forms?

The in­te­gra­tion of queer cul­ture into our cur­rent po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment and mar­ket econ­omy has re­sulted in our iden­ti­ties be­ing ex­changed for so­cial mo­bil­ity. Even more preva­lent in larger cities, the ho­mog­e­niza­tion of queer cul­ture is man­i­fested in the pro­mo­tion of the hy­per­sex­u­al­ized ideal gay male that looks no dif­fer­ent than the het­eronor­ma­tive model. By re­cre­at­ing the same bar­ri­ers that ex­ist in so­ci­ety-at-large, the in­tegrity in our move­ment has be­come ques­tion­able.

Sys­temic op­pres­sion of in­su­lar mi­nori­ties func­tions like a so­cial virus. It weak­ens our com­mu­ni­ties by dis­abling and killing the peo­ple who have the largest stake in our fight for sur­vival. It con­stantly mu­tates as it spreads from one to an­other, find­ing new ways to in­fect what could have thrived. In our fight for equal­ity, we can­not let this con­tinue. We have to speak truth into power. We have to con­stantly check our mo­tives

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