The campaign against Proposition 8 in California, and the subsequent struggles over how to overturn it, highlight for me an important dialogue we need to have in the LGBT community. We must begin to talk about, and deconstruct, privilege.
My doctorate is in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Ours is the premier program in anti-oppression education. Oppression, in our work, is defined as a system that maintains advantage and disadvantage based on social group memberships and operates, intentionally and unintentionally, on the individual, institutional, and cultural levels. Access to resources and social power are only readily available to some people as a result of their advantaged social group membership.
In order to maintain oppression, some groups benefit while others are targeted. Clearly, the LGBT community are oppressed as LGBT people. However, LGBT people also hold a number of other intersecting identities: race, gender, gender identity, national origin, religion, size, age, class and ability. Some members of our community are advantaged in these other identities while others are marginalized. Privilege based on race, gender, class and other social identities impact how we work together as a community. In fact, it impacts whether we think of ourselves as a community at all.
I hope to begin a discussion about privilege in the LGBT community. I truly believe that privilege has hurt our political movements and how we interact as a community. I am looking forward to a great discussion.