top of page
  • Writer's pictureJTF

The Gay Pandemic: A Silent Killer Within Our Ranks.

Updated: Jun 3, 2020

This pride, let's start the conversation without even saying a word. To learn more, visit the Silence=Death 2020 Campaign, and support the movement.

The world has gone mad. Turn on any news channel, look outside the window, 'zoom' with friends and family, there is no shortage of ways to see that we have experienced a seismic change in society's collective psyche. In it, some of the worst, but thankfully most of the best in humanity shines through and reminds everyone of the beauty in the human spirit—the undying ability for hope and the resourcefulness to get things done, to survive.

Every year in June, the LGBTQ community gathers in what has become Pride month. Events are held worldwide, but especially in the US, the celebration begins with parades and rainbow flags across the nation's urban centers. For a moment, the community is visible to society at large. Despite the leaps around visibility that the LGBTQ community has experienced, millions of individuals remain in the shadows, and it is generally at the hands -and in the shadows- of their own community. This year will be different, it is unlikely physical parades will occur (virtual parades are already in the works), and without that chance, there will be no way to pretend that the community is one big happy family for a day, a week, a month. So those in the community that live in the shadows will remain in them.

In a politically charged environment, and during a presidential year, the lines have drawn, and people go to battle for the survival of the version of America they choose to believe in. That kind of engagement -even if limited- is welcomed. Yet, just like Pride month is short-lived, scratches only the surface, and completely ignores or addresses the dangers that lurk within the community at large. It begs the question: Should we do better? Can we do better?

A million micro-abrasions can stab just as deep as any knife, and the community is getting gutted.

It is their own members that are doing the cutting. Human nature has always held prejudice; it is a matter of survival. It stems from the belief that there is not enough for everyone to go around, there is scarcity, and if one is to survive, or better yet thrive, she/he must take out the competition. We tend to make us look stronger and others weaker, originally to mate, or in today's gay community to sustain privilege and PnP.

At one time, others founded our community out of necessity, and such a sense of community has existed in one iteration or another for a very long time. Significant events such as 'Stonewall' or 'The AIDS Epidemic' have catapulted the movement to stratospheric proportions and spearheaded their revolutions. Still, traces of organized community can be documented much further back, from the recollections in films like 'Der Kreis' to the anthropologic findings of Ancient Greece and Rome. Groups have gathered, and communities have formed out of the sheer necessity to survive, belong, and connect with others. A question is then raised about the 'invisible,' silent, and toxic nuances of the 'tribe' if the original reason for existence was inclusion, protection, and survival. Every time there is a hate crime, we're outraged, and if the victim is male and white, we demand change, (this post was updated June 2nd to acknowledge the powerful displays against racism and police brutality in this country, to recognize those that march for everyone in the community, not just a segment of it), it is a token to appease the indignity at the situation. 'We are equal' is the main message pandered among the media waves and headlines the names of countless organizations that demand equality, and recognition for the community. But what about within the community? Abuse and discrimination are rampant, its members have become experts at backhanded insults that even a name exists, 'reading.’ Which participants clamor to be 'fundamental.' While laughter has always been an ally and weapon for anyone facing adversity or difficulty, we don't just laugh; we don't only see the absurdity of our commentary and thus its hilarity. The community acts on it; its members make decisions and segregate entire segments of the population in the name of 'preference.' It is so ingrained in the community that it is featured in the apps as filters.

What are we trying to filter? Blacks, Fats, Fems, Asians, Latinos, or perhaps something even more nuanced and insidious like age, socioeconomic status, physique type, music preference, etc. The number of ways in which the community can cut and separate are endless.

Some argue, it must be labeled to be understood, without symbolism and a common language, there cannot be clarity. So, the community groups everyone: bears, daddies, twinks, otters, muscle queens, fem queens, fem guys, trans, tool belt lesbians, the list goes on and on. It may have started as a categorization system. Still, it now hinges like a cage that is trapping the community—slowly drawing the life out of a once vibrant, diverse, and inclusive scene. We can do better, and we should do better; yet, this is not a PSA, it is not a witch hunt against privilege. People can be as puzzled by the concept of racism and discrimination as they can be by the idea of someone living with 'white guilt' as if they choose their privilege. For some, privilege is broader in scope and can have more influence, and thus the responsibility increases. That is the primary purpose of this message, to promote personal and social responsibility, and stop turning the other way. People may not want to, it is uncomfortable because it challenges the current environment. There is a pandemic raging through the community right now, it has been there for a very long time, and the more the community makes progress, the more entrenched it becomes in its culture and environment. It is silent and insidious, the majority of the time, everyone just turn the other way, and if someone speaks up in anger, they are dismissed as ungrateful and ignorant. Still, we must ask:

When was the last time we looked at someone and questioned if there is prejudice? We all have a bias.

Unlike the current health pandemic, there is already an antidote, a vaccine for the condition, it is called self-awareness and perhaps even acceptance. Acceptance begins in the individual, and moves onto others; after all, prejudice, discrimination, hate can only find roots in the hearts of those who have little of it for themselves. That is how the community got infected, how we became prone to the disease from the onset. Everyone was told not to accept themselves, that they are flawed. As individuals who fall outside the limited spectrum of gender or sexual identity, we are told that we are an abomination, we are shunned, some abused.

We cage within the prison we create when we choose to model after acceptable stereotypes in our society and our community.

Whether it is masculinity or status, it fits a one-dimensional stereotype that has become accepted. People stops questioning the system, assimilate, and find privilege in their position, then hold it as their identity. There is more to life than cages, prejudice, and discrimination, and it starts the moment we begin to question the acceptable preconceived notions in the community.

The silence=death campaign began as an outcry for the community to be seen and listened during the AIDS epidemic, it has since taken on different iterations and it serves as a slogan for anyone who's voice is silenced. The slogan will be used again. It is intended as an homage to the powerful message and the movement it spearheaded, it is not intended to diminish their cause but to uplift the pressing importance of a new invisible killer within the community. It is a much more silent and insidious disease that is slowly eroding the community from the inside out, and stripping it from everything that made it colorful and vibrant.

This pride, let's start the conversation without even saying a word. To learn more, visit the Silence=Death 2020 Campaign, and support the movement.


bottom of page