The burden of belonging to a poor queer minority

Yesterday, Thomas Edsall published another sobering column about what he calls the Democratic Party’s disarray. Although data collected in November 2016 shows that bits of the so-called Obama coaliton stayed home or in some cases switched to Donald Trump on Election Day, the steepest collapse was with white working class voters, two-thirds of whom expressed dismay, according to a PRRI study to which Edsall links, that “American culture and way of life has deteriorated since the 1950s.” Almost half of white working-class Americans, the PRRI study says, believe “things have changed so much that I often feel like a stranger in my own country.” I say the hell with them. The party is, pardon the metaphor, wedded to ensuring minorities get due process under the law. Nominating candidates with ties to Goldman Sachs, I’d argue, does more damage than supporting gender neutral bathrooms, or, better, nominating candidates with ties to Goldman Sachs increases the suspicion that Democratic solons support policies applauded in Wall Street board rooms.

These observations are prefatory to a few comments on the anniversary of the Pulse shootings in Orlando. Thousands of words expended for the sake of giving disillusioned white working class racists a platform and assuaging the guilt of newspaper editors later when even a cursory read of data shows the obvious: calamities most affect the minority poor. Speak to Orlando activist Ricardo Negron-Almodovar:

“You went through this horrible experience, and you can’t tell your family. Who are you supposed to tell?” Negron-Almodovar said. “You can’t tell your family that you moved here to give a better life to them back home, but you can’t tell them that you went through this, because you can’t tell them you’re gay.”

Speak to Sonia and Andrea Parra:

Sonia started going to Pulse when she was in high school. When she got married, she danced there with her wife, Andrea, and she almost went on June 11 to celebrate a former coworker’s birthday. Her five coworkers — and two other friends — were killed early the next morning.

Ever since the attack, they’ve felt the fault lines in their city. Neighbors who once smiled at the couple and wished them “good morning” went silent when the couple plastered their car with rainbow stickers in the wake of Pulse.

Just a few weeks after the shooting, their daughter came running home in tears. A neighbor told her she wasn’t allowed to play with her son anymore — the same boy who got her a Frozen-themed jewelry box for her ninth birthday and came to every sleepover — because she had two moms.

It gets better, we queers are told. Often it gets worse. The “myth of gay affluence” persists. Soon I hope to write a longer piece in which I examine one of the paradoxes of queer Latino culture, whereby the importance of having family around you requires queer men and women to tolerate graceless gay jokes, accept a don’t-ask-don’t tell status quo, and remain a blank.

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