Working Class LGBT people isolated from wider LGBT movement.



In this day and age being gay is a whole lot easier than it was say thirty to fifty years ago. Talk to any LGBT senior citizen and listen to them as they talk about things such as the Stonewall Riots and the AIDS crisis.

These things are a part of history and have helped to define the modern day LGBT rights movement. On the outside the movement looks united and fluid. Mainstream organizations like the Human Rights Campaign regularly lobby, fundraise, and release endorsements of corporations and big stars. The sad part of the LGBT rights movement is that there is the same fractures and divides that there is in the broader struggle for human rights.

There is a big divide. It is the same divide there is between worker and corporation. At the top of the LGBT rights movement are several powerful and very wealthy individuals who control the direction of the movement and all the money. The current focus of LGBT rights is the fight for marriage equality. But there are things that transcend marriage equality that need to be addressed.

Most rank and file sexual minorities are working class men and women. They may or may not have some kind of post secondary education; but they are not the rich and powerful corporate moguls that control all the wealth in the LGBT movement.

Poverty racks the LGBT community. 15% of gay and bisexual men live in poverty. The famous Kinsey study suggests that gays and bisexuals make up 10% of the population. So if our current population is 300,000,000 that means there’s about 30,000,000 gay and bisexual men.  Add in the 15% and were looking at astonishing numbers of poverty.
Lesbians and transgender individuals are even at higher rates of poverty at 24% and 60% respective. So not only is there a disconnect between the working class of the LGBT community and its wealthy bankrollers but there are other factors as well.

If one is a racial minority such as African American, Latino, or Native American and happens to be LGBT it’s a double edged sword. Not only are they dealing with poverty and discrimination from general society but they often face internal discrimination and stigmatization within their own communalities as well.

A gay Latino man faces a culture of Machismo or an overt masculine influence and the need to conform to traditional gender roles. A gay African American faces hostility from much of the traditional African American civil rights movement that circles around traditionally African Churches. Internal discrimination against LGBT Native Americans generally varies from tribe to tribe but it exists.

Another minority of LGBT people where discrimination and poverty exists heavily is LGBT people with disabilities. There’s no numbers or specifics generally on these people specifically. 62% of peoples with disabilities are unemployed. Millions live in poverty because of lack of services and job opportunities. Medical bills just simply pile up as these people struggle on a daily basis to care for themselves or to make it.  LGBT people with disabilities face discrimination from their own fellow gays and lesbians. The casual observer including a gay man would assume that disabled people are asexual and incapable of having sex or a relationship.

The LGBT community is far from united. To the casual observer they seem to be quite happy with the progress their making. If anything could be further from the truth; in the community there’s racism, poverty, sexism, ableism etc. The list goes on and on.

So many gays and lesbians are marching forward on the marriage banner that they’re leaving broken pieces of other people and groups behind. If the LGBT movement would expand their objectives to cover issues like racism, poverty, income inequality, sexism, transphobia, and disability discrimination the movement would be much more inclusive and united and would be a true front for the working class.

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  • attaining healthcare, quality education, in such a way as they are legally/administratively attached to households, and not marriage/sexual orientation......would go a long ways toward establishing separation of church and state. there would also be created a sort-of theological market. people of a spiritual bent might frequent mostly those churches that were welcoming people of alternative sexual orientation.

    non-marriage household based benefits and progressive churches as battering rams against homophobia. a communist plot to be pushed without shame

    Posted by gary hicks, 01/29/2012 7:30pm (2 years ago)

  • That's what I was getting at Barbara. On Peoples World I explained in an earlier article that marriage equality would lift LGBT people out of poverty or at least help.

    But there's not enough unity in the movement and that's what I was getting at. They need to include the working class.

    Posted by Mike Lado, 01/15/2012 10:51pm (3 years ago)

  • Very interesting article.
    It seems to me that there are some basic 'bread & butter' issues connected with marriage equality like health insurance, child care, hospital visitation, housing -- things like that, these are overall working class issues.
    But interesting observation that some LGBT organizations seem to be for 'professionals' and not others.
    I guess there are two approaches: one is to work within these groups to push dealing with issues facing working class and poor membership. The other to work within groups that focus on working class and poor and make sure they include LGBT. These are tasks for everyone, LGBT and allies.
    Building unity is a big part of struggle. Allies take note.

    Posted by Barbara R, 01/15/2012 1:08pm (3 years ago)

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