Feature by Nikita Fernandes
Historical narratives shape people’s understanding of events. From museums like the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art to films like Stonewall Uprising, queer history has been showcased and depicted in a multitude of ways. However, it is important to recognize the whitewashing of history. Whitewashing refers to leaving out important events and marginalized communities in history. To shape a white narrative, queer people of color have been left out of the LGBTQIA+ history narrative. This is done to keep the dominant group in power and white cisgender males are often credited for milestones in the queer movements. However, people of color have been pioneers in the field of queer history and deserve to be recognized and applauded for their integral work that led to progress.
James S (2019) writes that the role that “Transgender people, drag queens, blacks and Hispanics played outsized roles during many of the earliest milestones of the gay rights movement…these same groups have been denied many of the benefits of the revolution they sparked.” It is important to know that black people and Latinos were involved in the activism that followed the emergence of HIV/AIDS in groups such as ACT-UP. However, those celebrated are white gay men. Thus, early interventions were focused on white gay men and people of color had to develop their own organization (RG Dudley, 2013).
There is a need to spread more awareness about queer people of color’s contribution to history whether it be through books, movies, research and so on. If people of color are left out of history, all their development and efforts will be credited to a white society which portrays itself as a pioneering group in the field of queer visibility. Children of color who identify as queer will grow up without seeing their identities reflected in history and may feel “othered” as a result. Thus, it is time to set the stage for the pioneers of color and their groups that were left out of the narrative.