Scroll To Top

A Message to White Gays

A Message to White Gays

Photo by Kelly for Pexels

This Pride season we need to band together to stop authoritarianism.

White queers: the first Pride was a riot. We love the slogan on the T-shirt. We love the signs and the parties and the parades. I love being queer because we’re fighters. Today, we need all of showing up to fight the forces against us. Those in power have made us targets, just like they have made communities of color targets for generations.The anti-trans and antigay legislation passed by far-right legislatures in states across the country are heinous, and I’m ready to fight back. I bet you are too. We’re at another political crossroads with attacks on communities of color coming from the same well-funded enemies attacking queer and trans people. Which side are we on? What will be our legacy?

The signs of rising authoritarianism are alarming: They criminalized drag. Again. A reminder of the three-articles rule they used to justify police violence in our past. This time, they’re stoking division through the horrifying trope that queer people expressing our gender in public hurts kids, while they’re passing legislation to actually hurt kids for expressing their gender. In 2023 we’ve seen a record number of laws to restrict voting access. The attacks on queer and trans rights, students of color, protestors, educators, and the right to decide what we do with our bodies are straight out of the authoritarian playbook being used around the world.

The GOP’s hateful anti-queer and racist laws are a violent and overwhelming tactic to grab power, change the rules when they get it, and then line their bank accounts with what they extract from people and the planet when they privatize education, crush worker power, and build new pipelines.

This playbook has been used against communities of color for generations. We are in a white backlash to the 2020 uprisings for racial justice, just like we have every time Black communities have won material gains in our country. After we elected our first Black president, the Tea Party was created, backing the political rise of Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump, who stoke white backlash in every campaign speech. Their allegiance with Christian Nationalists, anti-immigrant groups, and anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ political entities like the Heritage Foundation have created a massively well funded and politically powerful coalition.

To win a world where queer people can be safe and thrive, we have to build a massive movement. And today, we’re not yet big enough to end these attacks.

We need to be big, well coordinated, and practice deep solidarity across lines of race, gender, and sexuality, to stop their authoritarian power grab in the next year and a half. We have to fight racism as hard as we are fighting homophobia and transphobia. There’s not enough of us to go at this alone.

I’m the Executive Director at Showing Up for Racial Justice. We were founded by white lesbians and today are led by white queers who understand we will never be free until we eradicate racism.

White queers: we need to find our stake in fighting racism, because we all have it. To start, racism has harmed the LGBTQ movement, diminished by blocking powerful leadership by queers of color and weakening campaigns. Campaigns to fight racism have created civil rights legislation in housing, healthcare, and employment that LGBTQ+ rights relied on, and powerful political movements that are the foundation of movements for queer liberation today.

White queers like me have shared interest in fighting rising authoritarianism, which is fueled by racism and requires fighting it head on. That means fighting racist legislation targeting schools like the Florida ban on educators and employers making white people uncomfortable by talking about race. These harmful laws, like recently passed HB 999, often criminalize addressing race and gender in the same bill. They are backed by the same people, and too often their tactics keep white people pointing the finger at people of color instead of uniting to win the civil rights, affordable housing, and healthcare we all deserve.

White queer people must show up in bolder action to disrupt their racist and anti-queer divide and conquer tactics. It is time for us to act. Find a formation working to fight for queer and trans rights and racial justice at the local, state, or national level and go.

Fighting authoritarianism by sticking up for each other across lines of race, region, and gender is the queerest thing we can do this Pride season and to do that, we need to practice deep solidarity and coordinated action.

Erin Heaney is Executive Director at Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), bringing white people into fights for racial and economic justice using a framework of shared interest. She lives in her hometown, Buffalo, New York, with her wife, Emma.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Erin Heaney