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I am always worried to the point of nail-biting when my spouse leaves in the morning for Boston Medical Center if she’ll return home to me, because she’s always stopped by the Cambridge or Boston police. They don’t see Dr. Thea James. Her gender non-conforming appearance and driving a brand new BMW, that many cops derisively dub as a “Black Man’s Wagon,” makes her a constant target of suspicion. When gender identity and sexual orientation come into play, the treatment by police can be harsher. And when the police realized my spouse is a woman, and a lesbian one at that, their unbridled homophobia surfaces.
Always nagging my spouse about being safe, she told me—with the recently killings of Alton Sterling, Philander Castile and five Dallas police officers—that she worries about me, too. She flatly stated she sees Sandra Bland in me, the African American women pulled over for a minor traffic violation on July 10, 2015 by a state trooper and three days later found hung in her jail cell. African American women combating police harassment is an ongoing struggle, too.
A gay Washington Post columnist asked me what is it that white LGBT people don’t get about the Black Lives Matters movement as well as racism within the community. I told him “This is a time when we need the community front and center in this struggle for both our survival and change, because their African-American LGBTQ brothers and sisters stood by you with marriage equality and other issues. We need now you front and center because we are hurting.”
But the queer politics of discussing race in the LGBTQ community is as unresolved among us as in the dominant culture. However, unlike the larger dominate culture white LGBTQs can suggest and give advice to communities of color from their own experiences of abuse by law enforcement officers, including discrimination, harassment, profiling, entrapment, and victimization that was often was ignored, and all based on our actual or perceived sexual orientations and gender identities.
The treatment African Americans are experiencing at the hands of some police officers who swore to protect but yet some have become both verbal and physical assailants is neither news nor new to LGBTQ communities.
Long before the Stonewall Riots of 1969 liquor licensing laws were used to raid establishments and bars patronized by LGBTQ people. Bar raids continue to target LGBTQ people, especially in the South where many of the