According to polls listed on FiveThirtyEight, the top Democratic Primary candidates are Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris…

And Beto O’Rourke.

Now maybe it’s too early to talk about identity politics. I like many will happily support the nominee to defeat the Supremacist in Chief. The Democrats are turning ever left, looking for new socialist/conscious-capitalist policies, embracing a plethora of thought, and shaking off the typicality of white men being the savior. So it’s odd that the most favored candidates look remarkably like the 43 of 44 who came before*.

2018 saw the House not only turn blue, but the majority of the representatives being sworn in were, for the first time, majority minority and marginalized. Noticeably, more women, and women of color, ended up in Congress. A new wave of progressivism, idealism, values, and who represents is washing over the country. The party, for the first time in its 200+ year history, looks more American. Yet when it comes to the highest office in the land (and world), despite the plethora of voices looking to lead, voters are still gunning for the same, recognizable, even establishment archetype – by around 70% of all polls.

Bernie, regardless of how it ends for him, will be remembered for pushing the party left on a national stage. He demonstrated government doesn’t need to be run by the center or the nearer-left. There is space for new ideas and voices looking to get shit done. Yet here we are in 2019, and the eye is still looking in the same direction.

This shouldn’t just be about what they look like, but Biden and Bernie are the established preference we’re used to seeing: old, straight, white men. They may have wonderful policy ideas, but so did many of the old white men who came before them. And like those men, both have questionable attitudes and actions towards women and people of color, and too long ago either (see: Biden on Anita Hill in the 90s, comments on busing, and Bernie 2016’s treatment of women and their value). It’s all well to have sound economic and environmental policies, but when actions as political leaders inadvertently exclude significant swaths of the population – namely those who aren’t white men – then liberal policies become as nationalistic as those on the right.

And then there’s Beto whose inexperience is there for everyone to see. Donald Trump showed that anyone can jump in and win the race, but also how bad things can be when you don’t know what you’re doing. Beto lacks the credentials of the other candidates, but his record is also fairly centrist, and at times even Republican. Yes, he’s a viral sensation, tapping into a resource others have failed. The reasons people point to him aren’t exactly overwhelming. There are no strong, detailed platforms, nor is there a genuine story to state a reason why he’s in the race. What he does have, along with the same platitudes, is a folksiness, a “good guy” label, which is much easier to hold when you’re neither woman, not-white, and LGBTQ+.

Beto has national recognition from his (losing) Senate campaign in Texas. He came close, and his campaign was a sight to behold. He turned out a base of voters who hadn’t entered into Texas politics in a long time, visiting every county and embracing thousands of people. Yet before he announced everyone was dying to know if he would step on to the stage or not. Stacey Abrams, another nationally recognized and defeated candidate in 2018 (although it was stolen from her unlike Beto) has alluded to running – where’s the media hype, love, coverage, and constant attention on her? I’ll leave you to figure that one.

But let’s compare Beto’s national acknowledgment with another candidate with that label – Elizabeth Warren. Who is currently chasing Beto in the polls.

Senator Warren has widespread respect for her understanding of the financial sector, for having worked to dismantle it to even the field for many years before stepping into political life. She is strong, level headed, and highly intelligent. Objectively speaking, there isn’t a candidate with a more detailed and broad platform for the country than Warren, and few have as much grasp of the key issues, both domestic and foreign. On an individual level, her message is championed. Her platform will be the one where Democrats turn going forward. And she has a story millions of Americans can empathize. But the media attention is next to none. Instead it’s about whether Biden or Beto before him would even enter the race, where these white men stand against Bernie, and who of the three gets which votes.

Yes, there is the issue of Warren using her very minimal and distant Native American ancestry to advantage. She should have to answer tough questions on it. But similar to 2016, the negatives focused on women are multiplied than those of her male contenders; as well as Biden’s and Bernie’s  history, Beto has an actual record – a DUI, and burglary via hacking. As Bärí A. Williams wrote, his candidacy is similar to a senior director at a tech company applying for a VP position after a review, failing to get the promotion, and then deciding to apply for the CEO job at a different company. This is failing upward – a special kind of privilege usually left to straight white men who don’t need to master the skills at other levels before heading to the top.

The Democratic voters made it clear new faces are wanted in politics, with a new wash of progressive values. Yet their desire doesn’t seem to reflect their actions. How can you demand change but still aspire to the same white men who have led America for all but eight years of its history? Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Harris, Booker – all of these candidates have platforms centered on leveling the field, on climate change, on the big issues impacting all Americans. Warren in particular could stand toe-to-toe with the progressive champion, Bernie, and yet she is still falling behind him by 20 points in most polls. There is no other reason for this than the standard tropes we use to separate men and women; likability, trustworthiness, authenticity, inspiration.

Those being polls apparently want the same comfort they’re used to. Perhaps after the devastation of 2016 that can be understandable. But rather than being measured on merit (in this so-called meritocracy *cue eye roll*), candidates who haven’t announced, or lack experience are already pulling way ahead of everyone else. All the women and non-straight, men of color with national platforms, experience from local office to the US Senate or former Cabinet Secretaries, are being discounted by the same microaggressions that give cis, straight, white men a leg up in every industry.

A President Biden, Sanders or O’Rourke would be welcomed, especially compared to Trump. But you cannot ignore the white male privilege in this race. Grand ideas and big announcements allow Democrats to whitewash the same negative points stapled to other candidates –criminality, inexperience, and chronicled histories of sexist and racist hypocrisy.

And if all of this wasn’t enough, let the money talk:

Of the top 3 candidates who have actually announced, two raised record-beating $6m and $6.1m funds in the first 24 hours. The third made one sixth.

I’ll leave you to guess which one that was.

*Grover Cleveland was a two-term non-consecutive President.

Manchester Pride has opted to be the UK’s first city to officially use an alternative Pride flag for 2019 and beyond. While using the standardized rainbow, the flag has two additional stripes: brown and black. These represent queer people of color within the LGBTQ+ community.

And of course, outrage ensued.

Are the rainbow colors supposed to represent unity in diversity of LGBTQ+ people?

Yes.

And has it lived up to that promise?

Absolutely not.

All you really need to do is look at the comments from white LGBTQ+ men and women to get an idea of why this might be needed. But instead…

Take a seat – it’s time to listen

LGBTQ+ activism is overwhelmed by white activists handling the narrative, where the fight against homophobia and transphobia around the world is illustrated by white people against white communities. In movies, television and literature, white queerness is seen over and over (Moonlight and Ru Paul remain two of the few exemptions), while the health and medical needs of white gay men are placed front and center over all others.

Much like with White Feminism, there is a singular focus on the white standard. The assumption that raising the wage gap for white women (77¢), for example, will increase it for Black and LatinX women (64¢ & 56¢ respectively) is the same excuse we see in the LGBTQ+ community.

White washing the crisis

Take young Black gay men, who are more likely to have HIV than any other group. Preventative care and education, however, addresses white gay men with educational materials and the readily available conversations within white districts. The belief that raising awareness for white people will impact other communities is a frank lie.

In the United States, HIV has a disparate impact on communities of color, making up more than a quarter of all cases. Black people make up 43 percent of total HIV related deaths since Robert Rayford in 1969. Rayford, a Black gay man, was the first recorded case, occurring before even the white washed history of the Stonewall Riots, which was led by queer people of color.

On-screen portrayals of the crisis in the 1980s depicts the fight by white men. Philadelphia and The Normal Heart showcase white men while barely noting queer men of color. What we in the white community often forget is that Black men were more impacted by the crisis, yet we never seem to want to draw any attention to it.

This is demonstrated more recently, in the 2018 play, The Inheritance. Despite its small, diverse cast, and the discussion of Black gay men accounting for most of the victims, we are told the story, albeit beautifully, through white male leads; the non-white characters play supportive roles.

Progress since the early 1980s has been made; the trend of white people with AIDs declined with the wider access to preventative information and medical advancements. But in the same timeframe the number of people living with AIDs has increased for Asian, LatinX, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and Black people who alone account for nearly half of all cases in the US. Is it because they are prone to negligence, or is it because the same preventative measures aren’t easily accessible?

Back to 2019…

Most recently there has been a stronger focus on transgender people and the discrimination faced from both the heteronormative, cisgender world, and within the LGBTQ+ community. US legislation, including the notorious bathroom bills, and the readily reported statistics of trans people committing suicide more than almost any other group has forced us to face societal transphobia. But even then, we still focus on the white narrative.

Black transgender people are twice as likely to face unemployment, leading to a higher rate (41 percent) of homelessness, more than five times the rate of the general US. population. Extreme poverty is faced by 34 percent, and more than 20 percent live with HIV, compared to the 2.64 percent of the general transgender community.

In every LGBTQ+ group, people of color face discrimination at work, in school, and in their local communities from both their queerness and their race. So it’s of little surprise that the Black LGBTQ+ community are more likely to face violence, physical, verbal and sexual abuse. Death too, whether through homicide or suicide, comes at a much higher rate.

And when white people aren’t eradicating Black people, we fetishize

Black people have been hypersexualized by white people for centuries. For Black women, the focus is on loudness, ‘exotic’ features, and large bottoms, while for men, we have normalized the caricature of the ‘thug’. These depictions are not limited to the screen, but occur in regular, racist conversations masked as false compliments. White Grindr users are regularly seen demanding aggressive Black men and “that BBC”. This fetishization manifests into a pleasurable itch desperate for relief, and in turn dehumanizing Black people, and reducing their existence to a commodity used and abused for our white entertainment.

White men and women in the LGBTQ+ community happily use profanity against Black and brown people because “I’m also marginalized”, yet decide to act shocked when we’re told, despite our so-called rainbow-inclusive community, they feel the need to find a safe space.

This is not inclusion.

We hide behind our colors and screech our insistence that we welcome everyone, while simultaneously disregarding, degrading, and deleting any person who is neither white nor cis.

So let’s return to the matter at hand:

Do we need a flag that highlights queer people of color despite our falsehoods of inclusivity?

Fuck yes.

A long time ago. Although this feminist guy thinks Daniel Quasar’s Progress Pride redesign should be the standard going forward.

To those who disagree, step aside. We don’t want you in our intersectional community.

Serena Williams has devoted her life to tennis. Her participation and continued success have provided the sport with a millions of fans who otherwise would not have noticed. After all, the history of the sport is simple; white country club. It was for the elites. It was mostly for men. And it was of course repressively white. In spite of this, Williams and her sister Venus have graced the game with intelligence, pride, and athleticism generally unmatched.

So it’s of no surprise to anyone when the President of the French Tennis Federation, Bernard Giudicelli, decided to call out Serena specifically for her supposed abuse and disrespect of the game: View Post

Yesterday, London held its Pride march. After having gone the last few years I decided to miss it this year. On the one hand, it was just too hot to be standing with thousands of people. And on the other: I really wanted to watch the World Cup quarter finals! But I got to appreciate the excitement through social media as my friends shared the joy of the day.

For the LGBTQ+ community, Pride is a time where you can be who you truly are without worry of any repercussions. Because, finally, you’re not standing alone. There are literally thousands of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgenders, and every other kind of queer person taking part. It is harder to be singled out in a crowd of straight people, for being different, even if they don’t hold any prejudice.

And yet, in London… View Post

Last weekend, Donald Trump accused protesting NFL players of disrespecting the United States, and the flag, because they knelt during the singing of the national anthem. The fact the racist Commander in Chief ignored the literal point of the protest was sadly lost on many other conservatives who also lambasted Colin Kaepernick and multiple other African Americans who respectfully knelt – an act committed to speak out against the abuse perpetrated against black Americans by various police forces and other authority figures. View Post