Posted on June 7, 2018

More White LGBTQ Candidates Won’t Help All Queer People Get Free

Jessie Daniels, Huffington Post, June 6, 2018

{snip} The Victory Fund, a political action committee dedicated to increasing the number of LGBTQ officials in the U.S., has endorsed more than 70 openly gay candidates across various levels so far this election cycle, and it expects that number to grow to more than 150 before Election Day. {snip}

But the Victory Fund ― Parker, its board of directors and its operational team ― is a predominantly white-run organization. And most of the candidates it has endorsed are white too.

{snip} The LGBTQ movement organizations of 2018 and the political agendas they put forward are dominated by the interests of white people.

The movement launched by trans women of color has become less of a riot against the police and more of a polite request for incremental change.

For example, the 2013 landmark Supreme Court decision United States v. Windsor, which paved the way for same-sex marriage nationwide, was about the right of a person to pass property to a spouse when one dies. But making marriage equality the defining issue of the LGBTQ movement is a turn that benefits couples who have wealth to transfer in the first place. Given that it’s harder for white women and people of color to accumulate wealth, that means white gay male couples are going to benefit most from that policy.

The white-dominated LGBTQ agenda shapes policy and movement priorities beyond marriage. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 60 percent of victims of LGBTQ hate crimes are people of color. Yet the image evoked by legislation like the Matthew Shepard Act is of a sympathetic white cisgender gay male victim, which reinforces the idea that gayness is always white. And as activists like Dean Spade and Craig Willse have pointed out, the turn toward hate crime legislation as a marker of victory for the LGBTQ movement is tantamount to an endorsement of mass incarceration.

So in the span of about 50 years, the movement has gone from a multiracial coalition of queers of all kinds in a riot against police to an arm of the nonprofit industrial complex working primarily for the benefit of white, wealthy, cisgender gays.


Queer political candidates need to follow the lead of women of color in developing a racial justice agenda that addresses economic issues.

At a time when the Democratic Party needs immigrant voters to help deliver a blue wave of victory in November, a recent study confirms what many of us have known: that there is a real and measurable Trump effect — the phenomenon of a political leader spewing racism, thus emboldening a swath of people to hold more racist views and to act on those views. Social scientists have been tracking the Trump effect and have found that Donald Trump’s demagoguery has made white people more hateful. White gay people are not immune to the Trump effect, just as straight white women are not. If white LGBTQ candidates want to create meaningful change for everyone, they need to get smarter about racial issues in a hurry.


For those of us who long for the kind of politics that questions the structures that limit the very potential of human freedom, a few more mostly white LGBTQ candidates may be a bit of good news. But it is not sufficient to create real change. A real politics of liberation must find a way to connect people who share values about sexuality, economic inequality and racial justice to one another.