BY GABRIEL GUZMAN
That’s the name of a new campaign that kicked off the pride event at Philadelphia’s City Hall last week. Philadelphia is blazing trails by becoming the first city to unveil a new pride flag. The flag includes brown and black stripes above the of the original colors. The flag is meant to symbolize the people of color that the LGBTQ community has overlooked, according to history.
Philadelphia’s downtown Gayborhood (gay neighborhood) has become a hotspot for discrimination amongst people of color, particularly regarding dress code enforcements that specifically target people of color. There is a leaked video from 2016 of a nightclub owner in one of the Gayborhoods using a racial slur. Philadelphia has taken a giant step for humankind by supporting its local brown and black people. As gratifying as this may be, it’s long overdue.
The addition of the two colors comes with praise, and of course the criticism is never too far behind. A majority of the backlash is coming from gay white men, according to Amber Hikes, executive director at Philadelphia’s office of LGBT Affairs. That doesn’t surprise, or really bother me as much as the wave of criticism pouring in from black and brown people. While browsing through Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, I noticed that the flag became a trending topic, which then lead me to where civility goes to die: the comments section. And there they were, my fellow black and brown brothers and sisters, who wanted to know “why they had to make it about race?”
Some of the negative comments (from my black and brown people) read: “Thumbs down! I view the rainbow flag as a symbol of GAY CULTURE, not RACE!”— “I don’t think the flag deals with race at all. I don’t buy it yet. Need more reason why we should change history. I mean stonewall was a pretty diverse angry crowd.” That is just TWO comments, out of 20 under one post titled, “What’s everyone’s opinion on this? I don’t’ see the need for two new colors. To me it goes against the rainbow meaning. Interested to see who supports it and why.”
After reading through all of the comments, it made me physically sick to my stomach. To hear that from LGBTQ black and brown people, who have perhaps experienced racial discrimination at some point in their lives, is baffling. To think that a marginalized community, is further marginalizing itself, takes my breath away, but I always welcome open dialogue about any topic, because ultimately we pride ourselves in having the luxury of free speech, and we like to think we’re considerate individuals.
I understand that there are people, especially those who identify as LGBTQ, or as black and brown people, who may not support the addition of the two new colors flying high in Philly, and I’m okay with that. What I’m not okay with is when people try to deny the legitimacy of the hate in the gay community.
So to those who can’t understand why the addition of the black and brown stripes is ground-breaking, trail-blazing, empowering, imperative, but most importantly, overdue—read the following message a gay black man recently received on the popular “dating” app Grindr.
Message reads as:
“You must be some black boy. Blacks are ugly and unattractive. Hate dark skin. It’s gross lol. Every other race other than black is hot. Not blacks.”
“Can’t believe I’d waste my time talking to a black boy.”
To those who believe they don’t see a race problem in the gay community—it’s okay, cause the rest of us see it, and slowly but surely it’s making its way to the light.
As cliché as it may sound, a friend made me realize that it’s not my battle to try and change the world, but rather to be the change I would like to see. I can’t add this weight onto my shoulders, but will let it serve as a reminder of why I do what I do, and why I am who I am.