By: Nicole Lashomb*/TRT Editor-in-Chief—
I’ve seen many changes during my editorship at The Rainbow Times. The changes came with the needs of the community, first reflected significantly as the battle for marriage equality. It wasn’t because marriage equality was the only worth fighting for then. On the contrary, it seemed like many people, especially Gay Inc., mostly focused on that. As it mostly happens, the media shapes up most of the masses’ ideas.
The more you heard about marriage equality, same-sex marriage, at first also called gay marriage, the more it became a “must” conversation among LGBTs. I remember how many people, including myself, wanted to be able to marry. I also recall the many stories I heard of, watched on TV, listened to on radio, read in LGBT papers and online. The stories were about the horrors of same-sex couples, living together for so many years, sharing a house, finances, items, etc., and having someone take it all from them just because they couldn’t get married. That was all we heard. It was all we were automated to think, breathe, and live. I am guilty. I followed the media, Gay Inc., and the “crowd at chow time.”
But having that information should make us wiser. Are we wiser? The same thing happened to us with “terrorism”—a word so embedded during “W’s” presidency that we became scared of its mere mention. “Terror alerts, high alert, code orange, anthrax, and more terror,” were all we heard via all media. So much that we became “terrorized” of “terror.” [pullquote]A society that is owned by one race cannot comprehend the intricacies inherent to other races and ethnicities. It just cannot relate. Lack of knowledge and understanding leads them to fear and disdain. “Why bother?” some ask.[/pullquote]
The media is powerful. Most of it is controlled by powerful and enormous companies, which happen to largely be white-owned too. No wonder there is almost no positive coverage of minority groups. The only positive coverage I used to remember, as in a complete black cast, was only seen in a handful of shows. The same happens with Hispanic or Asian coverage. A society that is owned by one race cannot comprehend the intricacies inherent to other races and ethnicities. It just cannot relate. Lack of knowledge and understanding leads them to fear and disdain. “Why bother?” some ask. I bother because I co-exist with beautiful people. I bother because I see the same thing happening with LGBTQ mainstream and LGBTQ people of color that happens in everyday life. I see mainstream struggles at the forefront and PoC struggles continuing to lag behind. I hear the pleas of my fellow colleagues of color and I want to go into action. And, I will.
The Rainbow Times will continue its diverse coverage, but it will start to focus more on people of color struggles, on LGBTQ Youth homelessness, on transgender women of color’s viciously shortened lives, on LGBTQ undocumented immigrants’ invisibility in this country, on Black lives because they matter—they matter a lot! We believe that, although we are not media moguls by any chance, we can bring about change. And, so we will. [pullquote]The media is powerful. Most of it is controlled by powerful and enormous companies, which happen to largely be white-owned too. No wonder there is almost no positive coverage of minority groups.[/pullquote]
You will see that our coverage of stories will mostly focus on the struggles ahead, while at the same time remaining vigilant to keep and inform others on what we have attained. Like our columnist Paul Jesep states in this month’s column, “marriage equality isn’t safe.” I say, our LGBTQ PoC aren’t safe either. As a matter of fact, they are dying at faster rates, they are being denied services and protections just because they are not white. They are not part of the privileged group of LGBT power people like Caitlyn Jenner, Chaz Bono, Neil Patrick Harris, Rosie O’Donnell, Sandra Bernhard, Miley Cyrus, Elton John, etc. They are just people like you and me, trying to live their lives while being truthful to themselves. Out celebrities who are Caucasian, many of them, do not understand that being gay and white is still a privilege. In contrast, it’s not the same for Jason Collins, Wanda Sykes, RuPaul, Lee Daniels, Robin Roberts, and many more. When I researched to find out more “out” PoC’s, I couldn’t find more information on the subject. Why? Let’s remember the white-controlled media. Even the gay media is mostly controlled by white people, white men. How can they relate and report objectively on people of color struggles? I am privy to such struggles because of my wife, because of my friends, because of my colleagues. I am privy because I care enough to get involved. My experiences with my wife also taught me about the realities of the privileged few, the collective, and the rest of us.
Like Caitlyn Jenner, most white people have to worry about other variants that don’t include being discriminated against, i.e., when you’re taking a cab, going to a Pub, dining at a fine restaurant, buying a house, or just walking alone in any place that is not home—some can’t even walk in their own neighborhoods. The minute modicum of safety for these “out” black celebrities comes with the limited power that money can buy. Sometimes, “equality” can fool you, just because paying for safety is affordable. Going back to Jenner, I think she is great and I love what she is doing to bring awareness to transgender people, but I also hear her comments on her show, her privilege, the life of entitlement that she lives as a rich, white woman who’s always been successful at all she’s done in her life—then and now. She is not fearful for her life. She is affluent. She can focus on love, on cherishing her transition. Others, like Leelah Alcorn couldn’t. Others won’t. [pullquote]Going back to Jenner, I think she is great and I love what she is doing to bring awareness to transgender people, but I also hear her comments on her show, her privilege, the life of entitlement that she lives as a rich, white woman who’s always been successful at all she’s done in her life—then and now. She is not fearful for her life. She is affluent. She can focus on love, on cherishing her transition. Others, like Leelah Alcorn couldn’t. Others won’t.[/pullquote]
The impact of homophobia colliding with racism is not something I have experienced. It’s not something Caitlyn has experienced. Having empathy, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, means “feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions.” If we had empathy, I wouldn’t be writing this column and my friends and colleagues, many members of minority groups, etc., wouldn’t be outraged in social media and more when sharing their experiences. They wouldn’t be pleading with others to understand and support them, just like what happened at Boston Pride this year with the #wickedpissed movement. They would just be focusing on the things that other, more privileged ones, can focus on. And, don’t take me wrong. I am not a racial minority, but I am a gender minority (besides being a sexual minority, of course). The messages, the struggles and the constant put downs that come with being a woman are daunting. I can’t imagine adding to that what my wife goes through—the ethnicity that is always present for her. What I am saying is that it is easy being me, in comparison to what many of my Black, Hispani, Asian friends, family, and colleagues go through. I am sure it’s easy for many of you who share the same background as I do too. [pullquote]I see mainstream struggles at the forefront and PoC struggles continuing to lag behind. I hear the pleas of my fellow colleagues of color and I want to go into action. And, I will. [/pullquote]
This is not the place or the feelings that I want to foster. TRT wants to foster change. Change in the form of contributing to securing trans protections, equality for women, equality for racial and ethnic minorities, for LGBTQ undocumented immigrants, for LGBTQ youth of color, for parents of LGBTQ youth of color, for transgender people, for LGBTQ parents of color, for populations that are still being hit hard with HIV/AIDS (mostly gay, bisexual men of color and trans women of color), and so on. Their needs, their voices and their struggles, should be the voices that we represent. Not just we, at TRT, but we as responsible media. That is what you do when you are not numb or so entitled that you cannot see the suffering of others, their plight, and their diverse and beautiful existence. Winning the same-sex marriage battle, doesn’t mean it is time to take the gloves off. We need to lace them up tighter than ever.
* Nicole Lashomb is the Editor-in-Chief of The Rainbow Times. She holds a BM from the Crane School of Music (SUNY Potsdam), and an MBA from Marylhurst University. She may be reached by e-mail via: [email protected].