Thursday, June 23, 2011

Provincetown's not safe for black lesbians

Note: It's always hard for me to publicly acknowledge violence committed by black men. It's hard because the actions of the few always reflect on the many. It's hard because people all too often take the actions of one black man and project it onto all of them. Their faces are constantly associated with violence and sexual aggression. At the same time, it's a transgression not to loudly acknowledge the experiences of my sisters and to confront problems and injustices on their behalf. Rev. Irene Monroe talks of this in her article "Provincetown's not safe for black lesbians." See below:

by Rev. Irene Monroe

At the tip of Cape Cod is the LGBTQ-friendly haven Provincetown, fondly called P-town, and known as the best LGBTQ summer resort on the East Coast.

Of late, more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people of color (POC) have not only begun vacationing in P-town, but we have also begun holding POC events.

For the past several years now, the "Women of Color Weekend" brings hundreds of us LBT sisters of color to P-town from all across the country.

And it is the one time of the year many of us make the journey to P-town, anticipating that we will feel safe enough, for a few days, to let down our guard.

But the sexual and homophobic harassment many of us LBT sisters endure from many of our heterosexual brothers of African descent back home in our communities, or imported from one of the Caribbean Islands has, too, become an inescapably reality at P-town.

"A few years back I sent a letter about this very subject...and I received an email from the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce, instructing me to get in touch with them and the police if this happens again...well, it has happened again and again," Ife Franklin of Roxbury, MA wrote me.

Franklin and her wife were at "Women of Color Weekend 2011," and she and several sisters of color were continually harassed.

"Now I will take ownership...I have not called the police or contacted the town Chamber.Why? Well, here is where this gets a little sticky for me...So, if I call and say 'there are some Black men harassing me' will they round up ALL of the Black men? Even the ones that have done nothing wrong?"

Issues of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation trigger a particular type of violence against people of color that cannot afford to go unreported. Not reporting what is going on with LGBTQ people of color not only subjects us to constant violence that goes unchecked, but it also puts the larger queer culture at risk.

In the now defunct Boston LGBTQ newspaper In Newsweekly Will Coons in 2007 expressed in his "Letter to the Editor" his distress with the harassment. "I'm well aware of the white man's burden and the need to be open and sensitive to historical injustices, but the flip side works as well: are these Jamaican men sensitive to, aware of, and respectful of the gay men who vacation here? My impression over the past ten years is that most of them are not and I distinctly feel uncomfortable in their presence."

The lack of reporting about these types of harassment and assaults from LGBTQ people of color is for two reasons -- both dealing with race.

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