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Why Gays Should Stop Standing in Judgement of Freedom Fighters in Ferguson

Why Gays Should Stop Standing in Judgement of Freedom Fighters in Ferguson


This gay, HIV-positive activist has been on the ground in Missouri — site of the Ferguson protests — and he's not happy with what he's seen. But it's not what you think.

During the past one hundred days here in St. Louis I have been amazed to watch people’s reaction to protests, demonstrations, and eventually rioting that occurred in Ferguson. We have all heard of white privilege, however I will say that "gay privilege" has settled upon many in the LGBT community.

The LGBT communities have been so focused on marriage equality, however there was several groups who have been thrown under the bus in furtherance of that “cause.” The trans community as well as those living with HIV are most commonly the voices least advocated for by certain LGBT advocacy groups such as the Human Rights Campaign. This was a fact that I recently pointed out to an HRC fundraiser who called to renew my membership.

I have watched as self-righteous gay men have sat in judgment of those who they perceive as “rioters” in Ferguson, Missouri. Those who sit in judgment seem to forget — if they ever knew in the first place — that we have had to riot, protest, and demonstrate in order to get to where we currently are.

Those most sympathetic to the cause are those living with HIV or AIDS and members of ACT UP. Most of the advancements that we saw related to improved quality of medical care and availability of life-saving medications came as a result of the work of ACT UP. This was all documented in How to Survive a Plague, and people who don't know our history would be wise to watch it.

There was once a time when the only thing that we had was each other. Whether it was in San Francisco's Castro are or other gay neighborhoods, we were able to stand together in order to further our own agenda. Led by leaders such as Harvey Milk and later Larry Kramer, we were ushered into an era of activism which taught us that gays had to stand and we had to fight.

Slowly, as the gay agenda has been assimilated into mainstream culture, something very curious has happened. We have forgotten what it is like to be disenfranchised. From this new position of superiority we are not able to remember a time in which we were not accepted and when gays were beaten, murdered, and killed — sometimes at the hands of police officers. The Stonewall uprising is one example, the White Night Riots are another.

I would ask my gay brethren to take a moment from sipping your over-priced martini while giving each other the side-eye to consider those who are fighting now for total freedom. If we take a moment to stop, I believe that we have more in common with the struggles of Ferguson and others protesting police brutality than we think.

More importantly, we need to fight for total equality for all — not just some. 


Aaron Laxton is a social media activist, blogger, and educator. He was one of HIV Plus magazine's 20 Amazing HIV+ Men of 2014. Read more here.

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Aaron M. Laxton