[OPINION] Are We Losing Ourselves to a Generic LGBT “Brand”?

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Reverend Mark R. Byrd (Courtesy Mark Byrd)

A few years ago, during June’s PRIDETIDE (the season of the church worship year during pride month) our weekly Sunday worship themes focused on one “letter” of each unique part of the LGBTQAI community.   To my surprise, one member of the community “took me to task” about this decision saying that focusing on our differences did more to divide “us” than to unite us as a community.   

My position then and now, is that when “we” as the greater LGBTQAI Community choose to deny, ignore, overlook, downplay, and/or otherwise fail to recognize the uniqueness of each part of LGBTQAI “alphabet” that represents us, we risk losing the strength we gain by being and celebrating the uniqueness that each part brings to the whole and we make ourselves vulnerable to losing and relegating ourselves to a “generically acceptable” LGBT “brand”.   

It has been my observation and experience that such generic acceptance lends itself and plays into, perpetuating white elitist privilege (which all too often oppresses even “our own”) and to a “token inclusivity” that becomes as exclusive as those who discriminate and exclude all of us.  To put this into context, imagine going to a breast cancer prevention fundraiser and just as “survivor stories” are being shared, someone yells out “but all cancer matters!”  Or in another context (one that I have been silent way too long), imagine going to a “Black Lives Matter” rally and someone yelling out “but ALL lives matter!”  And finally, imagine going to going to a Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) event where the emphasis and focus was as much, or more, on rest of the LGBQAI alphabet rather than on the “T”.   As LGBTQAI community events are planned and organized – I call on all of our community leaders to work hard(er) to ensure this does not continue to happen.  “We” are better than that and we must be and demand better!

All that, to also say this: On Saturday, April 7 we all have an important opportunity to show support specifically to and for our transgender and gender nonconforming community here in Hampton Roads.   The Hampton Roads Transgender Day of Visibility  (TDOV) art/artist showcase event is intentionally designed to recognize, highlight and showcase local transgender and gender nonconforming artists and their talents. 

I believe it is so important for “us” to celebrate and focus on the uniqueness of our “T” community.  Is there any doubt that our trans sisters, brothers and gender nonconforming siblings are indeed the most at risk, vulnerable, unprotected, underserved and, often have their incredible talents and gifts to the community and society go unrecognized and undervalued?  This year and now together “we” can begin to change.   

Reverend Mark R. Byrd is Senior Pastor of New Life Metropolitan Community Church of Hampton Roads.  

If you are interested in attending Saturday’s Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) event, click on the graphic below for complete details.

Transgender Day of Visibility – Hampton Roads