Will We Evolve Too?

Gaining wider acceptance for LGBT rights often means supporting causes that disproportionately affect other minority communities. Can we collectively look beyond issues important to white people?



Barack Obama confirms his support of same-sex marriage in a historic interview with Robin Roberts on ABC News.


Since then, LGBT groups from the national lobby group Human Rights Campaign on down to local nonprofits have been doing the legwork needed to build cultural bridges. “I see it changing with young people,” says Michael Ferrera, who works with youth every day as founder and director of LifeWorks, an LGBT mentoring program of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. The majority of LifeWorks’ youth clients are black and Latino. “I see a young generation that’s a lot less hampered by growing up with these attitudes of being an ‘other.’ The world is more multicultural, the U.S. is more Latino, and these kids are much less worried about differences.”

While the young people he describes maintain that hope, much of the world at large does not yet share their blindness toward the “other.” In fact, many of the well-established gay men and women to whom Ferrera and his organization turn for financial support haven’t yet come to that same viewpoint.

“That’s where the problem still lies,” says Ferrera. “White people — especially those with money — don’t necessarily have to interact with people of different ethnicities. They lack an awareness of white privilege, of giving voice to those who haven’t had a voice.” That is to say, the LGBT population is subject to the same problems of racism and white privilege that exist in the country as a whole (see: the Trayvon Martin case’s thorny repercussions).