Dear fellow white LGBTQ+ people in Greensboro,
We are thankful for you, your pride and your existence. We celebrate our shared survival in the face of transphobia and homophobia. We celebrate surviving in the midst of HB 2 — one of the most pernicious anti-trans pieces of legislation in our country. We know what transphobia and homophobia do to our hearts and souls, and we are grateful for a community that helps us survive and celebrate who we are.
We are writing this open letter as white LGBTQ+ people, because queer and trans people of color in our city, in our community, who are our friends and family, have been telling for years what racism does to their quality of life, and what we need to be doing to uplift their experiences and address our own racism.
Structural racism is real and it exists in our LGBTQ+ community in Greensboro. It causes disproportionate unemployment, homelessness, incarceration, murder and suicide rates for queer and trans people of color, and black trans women and femmes in particular. Queer and trans people of color are a fundamental part of our community who cannot be erased, silenced or marginalized, or else we are not truly about community. Their lived experiences, needs, beauty, power and humanity are central to our queerness because black and brown people are queer, too!
Greensboro Pride’s theme this year is “Unity through Diversity.” If we are truly about a unified LGBTQ+ community in our city, then we have to be about the lived experiences of queer and trans people of color who are our community leaders, who move us all forward and who have been on the frontlines for LGBTQ+ rights and liberation for decades. From Stonewall to the March on Washington, from Black Lives Matter to HB 2, queer and trans people of color in Greensboro, statewide and across our nation have been and are fighting for liberation for all of us. If we love our LGBTQ+ community, then we must be about ending racism, and all forms of oppression that affect any of us as LGBTQ+ people.
This looks like supporting the transformative and revolutionary work of the Queer People of Color Collective (QPOCC), the NC TROUBLMakers Network and NC Trans Pride, who have been leading queer liberation in our city and state for years. But as it stands we don’t ask why QPOCC exists here — why there is a need for QPOCC, or Visions of Pride or NC Trans Pride, all of which center people of color and black trans women in particular. We don’t ask how we can support our kindred of color in meaningful ways. We don’t support their organizations materially and we resist when they suggest that our white organizations need to better address racism. In fact, we threaten to call the police on queer black femme organizers for speaking up. Instead of opening our ears and hearts and honestly questioning if our Guilford Green Foundation, our Equality NC or our Pride celebrations represent all of our community, we feel offended when people even say the word racism.
We want our community to be united. But we hold that community is not possible until white LGBTQ+ people recognize that we must do more. Our queerness demands more of us. Our community demands more of us. Our queer and trans people of color kindred demand more of us.
We write as white queer and trans folks committed to anti-racism, who do not have near enough answers for how to end racism, or even how to be accountable to LGBTQ+ people of color in our anti-racist work. We are and always will be learning how to be bolder and truer to that commitment and to our kindred. Recently, some of us were silent when members of the Greensboro Pride board yelled at and threatened our kindred of color for speaking up about racism. We are sorry we were silent then, and we refuse to be silent now.
When disrupting Pride across the state last year, leaders of QPOCC and NCTROUBLMakers Network lifted up Miss Major, Storme DeLarverie, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, “who actively demonstrated what resistance meant by putting their bodies and their lives on the line for our collective survival.” Honoring this legacy, ancestry and the courageous queer and trans people of color continuing this work for all of our survival, we must commit to doing our part.
As our kindred teach us, Pride is about celebrating our brilliance, beauty and survival. For that reason we cannot do so in ways that silence, erase, marginalize and threaten LGBTQ+ people of color. Pride is about committing as LGBTQ+ people to be in community with each other — this looks like ending white silence and ending racism. It is committing to a Greensboro where all of us have a home, none of us are incarcerated, everyone has an affirming job and healthcare, police do not brutalize us and LGBTQ+ people of color are centered and celebrated.
In the words of our QPOCC leadership, “Pride is always political.” It’s high time we committed to that.
With pride and love.
Alex Rae, Bayard P. Love, Cristina Dominguez, Isabell Moore, Julia Singley, Kari Thatcher, Kate Keeton, Kiki Hatzudis, Emma Gunn and Nikki Mintz collaborated on writing this piece. All are members of the Queer People of Color Collective’s anti-racist white committee. In many ways we are working to echo and uplift the work and words that our leaders and comrades spoke when they interrupted Pride events in their cities last year, and we would not have written this statement without the labor and leadership of queer people of color. More info about QPOCC and the white anti-racist committee can be found at queerpoccollective.com, and on Facebook.