Visibility. Merriam and Webster's Dictionary define it as “the capability of being readily noticed.” To be seen - Now, more than ever, the LGBTQ+ community is rallying the battle cry of being seen. Seen in our places of business and employment. Seen in spaces of cis-gendered, hetero normality. Seen in our own families. While we are making tremendous progress in this mission, we are still sometimes missing the mark within our community. Through generational conditioning, we have created sects and different subgroups within the community to offer a sense of identity and belonging. From “bears” to “otters” and “twinks” to “muscle daddies,” affiliations have long been a way to solidify a sense of self in a community with so many beautiful colors. But it is in these groups that we also cultivate a sense exclusivity and exclusion rather than inclusion.
In my lifetime, I have been to many a bar that wasn’t the most welcoming to me because I didn’t fit the usual clientele. Furthermore, being rendered as invisible because of the color of my skin. One would think, that in 2020, ideas of racism in a community fighting for the same liberties their cis-gendered counterparts receive, would jettison any notion of non-acceptance of any group of people. But, sadly, that’s not the case. From profiles on dating apps that display preferences of no fems, blacks, or chubs. To a myriad of micro-aggressive behaviors that litter our community. We are letting the very poison that is being slung at us to be an ever-present way of life. Social media has perpetuated these behaviors. Anyone with a smartphone, internet, and a keyboard can hide under a banner of anonymity - spewing hate and vitriol relentlessly, with often a curated audience, to reinforce the said activity.
I get it. You like what you like. More times than not, like attracts like. As humans, we find comfort in the familiar and similar. The attraction is not immune to that basic human instinct. But we have to try our best to see and embrace our differences. We are all trying to survive, like when The Avengers assembled to fight Thanos. Heroes of different strengths and powers came together for the greater good - to fight a greater evil. Together, they were stronger. The same goes for our community. We are fighting for our lives - literally. We are more alike than we like to think. How can we ask for acceptance and be “seen” when we chose not to see our brothers and sisters?” When we turn a blind eye to our trans brothers and sisters, or shame one of our own because he “doesn’t have a summer body?” Or when we discount the voices of our black brothers and sisters and other people of color.
I write this not to point a finger at anyone, but as a reminder to myself and others. When we heal and move forward with love and true authentic acceptance, regardless of socio-economic class, body type, background, and life path, we can be "seen" in a powerful light - seen standing in our power as a community. Generations fought hard and gave their lives for our community to be as brilliant as we are today. Resilient, unmovable, and steadfast are words that come to mind when I think of the magnificent qualities of the LGBTQ+ community. Together, we will continue to fight for what is rightfully ours. Together - stay safe and be well.
Jason J. Carter is a Host, Producer, Journalist, and Television Personality. He is the creator of JasonUnleashed and appears on such shows as ET Live, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and The Young Turks. Learn more at JasonUnleashed.net.
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