On this #SpiritDay let’s remember:
1) Homophobia and transphobia do not exist in isolation from racism and capitalism. Homophobia and transphobia are often responses to histories of and continued acts of colonial and economic violence. We will never end homophobia and transphobia unless we end capitalism and racism. It’s not enough to do LGBT sensitivity trainings, people need racial and economic justice.
2) ‘Homopohobia’ is often weaponized to further demonize Black, indigenous, and people of color. We will never end homophobic and transphobic violence unless we recognize that gender and sexual oppression is not unique to a particular culture, body, or region — it is pervasive and maps differently across all cultures and peoples. People of color are NOT more homophobic than white people.
3) Homophobia and transphobia are systems of oppression, not just attitudes and individual acts of violence. Our culture creates the idea of the ‘bully’ to recuse itself of its own complicity in structural violence. The truth is that ‘bullies’ are victims of the same systems of power. Bullies are often responding from very real trauma, loss, violence, and pain under violent regimes of power and state control. Hurt people hurt people.
4) The prison industrial complex feeds into these racist ideas. We are taught that if we punish and incarcerate “bullies” and “perpetrators” we will end violence. This couldn’t be more far from the truth. All this does is address the symptoms, and not the root causes. If we are really committed to ending a culture of hate we cannot respond to violence with more violence. We need to build a culture of empathy, healing, and transformative justice.
5) The rhetoric to “stop LGBT bullying” has and continues to contribute to the mass criminalization and incarceration of Black, indigenous, and people of color. Laws and policies may sound effective on the books, but they disproportionately are exercised on people of color. Zero tolerance policies around homophobia in schools have targeted black and brown youth and contributed to the high school to prison pipeline. Hate crimes legislation has further criminalized low income communities of color and funneled them into prisons.
6) Most LGBTQ youth are not white and are not wealthy. Their biggest bullies are not mean boys in school, rather they are our school’s administration. Their biggest threat is not men on the corner of the street, it is the police. The state continues to murder, profile, stop & frisk, rape, abuse, criminalize, deport, and lock up LGBTQ youth of color every day. (Rest in Power Jessie Hernandez!)
7) Our ‘bullies’ learn their strategies of control, intimidation, and violence from the state. The prison & legal system gives them a blueprint of what justice — I mean what murder, torture, and disposability — looks like.
8) When LGBTQ youth of color respond to defend themselves from violence they are often the ones who get blamed for inciting violence and are criminalized for their self-defense. Think of the case of CeCe McDonald, a Black trans woman who was physically attacked by racists on the street and was thrown into jail. CeCe has since been freed, but so many are still behind bars.
9) The only guaranteed housing the state offers to LGBTQ youth of color is the prison system.
10) LGBTQ youth do not need to be saved. They do not need our lip service, they need jobs, healthcare, stable housing, and respect to determine their own pathways to wellness and security.