During her acceptance speech at the GLAAD awardings, “Master of None” star Lena Waithe delivered an impassioned plea for unity.
Waithe won the award for Outstanding Individual Episode as the writer of “Master of None’s” “Thanksgiving.” Moments into her speech, she touched on a really sensitive issue: divisions in the LGBTQ community.
“A lot of people ask me why I say I’m queer, ” she told. “I say that because I think it’s a big umbrella. I don’t wishes to separate myself from my trans household, my non-binary, bisexual — sometimes we can be a little segregated. You know what I entail? “
There are tensions within the LGBTQ community, and reluctance to discuss them merely deepens the divisions.
It’s hard being on the outside seeming in and fighting only to have the same rights as anyone else. Throughout the history of the larger LGBTQ movement, there have been a number of tries by some to cut out “undesirable” segments of the community for the sake of easing that fight for the rest.
Just a few years after the Stonewall uprising( one of the movement’s defining moments ), some of its most prominent leaders determined themselves sidelined as the growing motion tried to give off a more palatable appearance to straight people — as if to tell, “See, we can be normal, too! ”
Trans women Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were once banned from New York’s annual Gay Pride parade. They were foreigners among foreigners.
Many of those divisions remain.
“That’s how come I’ve been strolling for gay rights all these years instead of riding in automobiles and celebrating and everything, ’cause you never altogether have your rights, person or persons, until you all have your rights, ” Johnson told years later, explaining why she continued to work so hard for a motion that sometimes didn’t appreciate people like her. “I think that as long as there’s one homosexual person who has to walk for gay rights, then all of us should be walking for gay rights.”
Waithe’s speech hammered home the idea that we can’t leave anyone behind and that the LGBTQ community has to take an intersectional approach to equality.
“We need to be united, because Laverne Cox’s struggle may appear different than mine, but the pain we feel is the same, ” Waithe said. “Someone who may be asexual may have a different journey than mine, but … there’s things that we have in common.”
She continued, “At the end of the day, we’re already ‘othered, ‘ so why should we ‘other’ ourselves even more than we already are? We have to support each other, we have to talk to each other, we have to educate one another about our own individual journeys, because at the end of the working day, we all we got.”
“So let’s hold onto that, hold onto each other. We gotta be one big family, because at the end of the day, we all got people trying to come against us. So when we stand together, there’s no weapon they can form that can damage us.”
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