This post is inspired by a conversation friend and I had over a video on Facebook talking about the addition of a Black and Brown Stripe to the rainbow flag to represent people of color. The video took the tactic that it wasn’t necessary because each color had a meaning. My friend agreed. I didn’t.
What I think the problem demonstrated is ranking race over queerness. What is essentially said without saying so explicitly is that queerness comes first. That is a statement only a white person can make. It just is. White people have always had their history and their culture sublimated into mainstream culture, and so what happens when people push back on that? They don’t understand it because they don’t grasp that mainstream culture and history is ostensibly white culture white history.
People of color do not put their race over their queerness or over their capability or gender identity or social status these are all parts of intersectionality. It’s like asking which part of their brain they want to keep their all parts of the brain. It’s not a coincidence that most people who object to the addition of those stripes to the flag are gay white men, because they are the ones who have had control over the cultural production longest. More than women, more than people of color, more than trans people, gay white men have created the gay culture, or at least mainstreamed gay culture.
Any violation of that culture is seen as an attack on queerness when what it is is a push to correct the narrative the narrative we’ve been told is wrong people of color trends people women have all been in the struggle for as long if not longer then gay white men but their stories don’t get told the same reason we have a black history month and a women’s history month. Those groups are excluded from history telling.
Part of what I think is wrong with the argument the video lays out is that it presumes that the intentional meaning behind the flag that Gilbert Baker created is still the flag that is held up by the LGBT community. The colors of changed and I would venture to guess a majority people could not name who created the rainbow flag nor could they tell you what the colors meant the rainbow in essence for many became about the colors representing gays and lesbians and bisexuals people and transgender people and other parts of the community and not about what Gilbert Baker originally wanted. The ideas he put forward are very 1960s in their mentality and I don’t think that that transpired to now.
It’s an imperfect comparison but it reminds me of the confederate flag the confederate flag we know and see as a symbol of heat was not actually the official flag of the confederacy but it was one of the battle flags. So a lot of people when they see the confederate flag being used as a symbol of hate take it back to the Civil War when in reality it’s creation is the symbol of hate was something that started much later in the 1960s in the civil rights movement. I use this example to say that the original intent of the flag has changed in both cases and they’ve become misunderstood by many and I think that you have to take the new meaning as what’s being talked about contemporaneously and so the addition to the stripes is actually about claiming that a race still is a part of our every day reality and that queer people are also people of color and the flag that was flown so proudly for so many years was flown by people who are gay white man and creating that culture and so I think it’s not about getting it wrong in terms of what Gilbert Baker intended for correcting the new symbolism behind that symbol