Our Lives Magazine, along with Queer Pressure will host its Queer People of Color Brunch Saturday, August 18 at the Robinia Courtyard, 829 E. Washington ave.
The brunch will take place from 11:30 am-3 pm and is a chance for gay people of color to meet one another, which can be a challenge out in the community.
Our Lives will also release the second annual QPOC Pride list, which is profiles of LGBTQ people of color from Wisconsin. The Pride issue celebrates leadership and visibility within communities of color.
Our Lives has been a conduit for people to address some of the issues gay and lesbian members of communities of color face on a daily basis. For many in the community, being gay, bisexual or transgender adds yet another layer of marginalization and another way to feel outcast about themselves.
“If you take a person’s identity and look at all the ways they can be othered, everytime you add on a layer of othering someone they’re going to encounter more social stress,” Our Lives Publisher Patrick Farabaugh told Madison365. “Just a normal person of color is going to encounter stress moving through the community. If you can further other that person, they’re going to encounter more stress. When you go into deeper marginalization they can encounter deeper issues. There were almost no options for LGBT people of color to have their space.”
Gender, class, sexual orientation, disability, race. All of those were examples of the layers of being othered that Farabaugh was referring to.
Last year, Our Lives Magazine used its Pride issue to feature its first Queer People of Color pride list detailing some of the notable people in the community who were LGBT people of color and hosted a gala reception to celebrate those people. While there was a lot of excitement about the list, Our Lives Magazine got a lot of feedback about how surprised people were by how few people they knew on the list.
This year, Our Lives is expecting a large turnout for the brunch.
“A resource for community building is what this brunch is,” Farabaugh said. “Last year’s event was one of the first times I’ve seen gay people of color be able to share space that was centered around them. I would not be surprised if that grows as people share space together organically.”
The QPOC brunch comes during one of the most turbulent weeks the LGBT community around Madison has ever seen.
Last Friday, the board of directors of OutReach, which organizes Madison’s Pride Parade, announced that it was uninviting local law enforcement agencies from marching as contingents in the upcoming parade, scheduled for Sunday. They made this decision because many LGBT groups, queer people of color in particular, expressed that they felt unsafe with uniformed, armed police marching in the midst of people trying to celebrate personal freedoms. Those voices were primarily focused on the fact that LGBT members of the community, particularly gay men of color, are disproportionately targeted and harassed by police.
The view of those opposed to having a police contingent march is that the police represent the hand of oppression for communities of color and the LGBT community.
One cited example was that of Officer Matthew Kenny, who shot and killed a teenage boy named Tony Robinson while in the line of duty. Robinson, 17, had been unarmed and was possibly experiencing a mental health crisis at the time Kenny shot and killed him.
But a year earlier, when the ban on gay marriage was lifted and members of the LGBT community were going down to the Dane County Courthouse to get married and celebrate, the Madison Police Department (in an effort to be supportive) sent officers down to the courthouse with a big wedding cake to symbolize the victory. Officer Kenny had been the police officer delivering that cake.
For many this was an example of how the officers marching in the parade are from the same department that protected Kenny and continues to allow him and officers like him to serve.
During last year’s Pride parade many residents expressed frustration that police were able to march in uniform in the parade. LGBT marchers, people from communities of color, people who are undocumented immigrants, all reported feeling unsafe and uncomfortable.
“People of color are arrested 7-10 times more than whites, which leads people to believe that their bodies are being overpoliced, which creates barriers to inclusion to make them feel safe attending,” Farabaugh told Madison365.
On the flip side, other members of the LGBT community have been appalled by the move to exclude uniformed marching officers. On Facebook and other social media there has been division about this issue, a lot of which breaks down racial lines. But some not.
Madison is a place where there is some of the nation’s worst disproportionalities when it comes to policing communities of color.
However, for years there have been conversations about the need for police to be more involved, aware, connected to, celebratory of and part of communities of color and diversity. Few opportunities are as massive as the Pride parade for that kind of unity.
Many of the officers who were planning to march in uniform are men and women of color. Lt. Brian Chaney Austin, who is the head of MPD Pride, a Madison Police Department organization for officers who identify as LGBT, said he was disappointed at officers not being able to march in uniform but that he hopes this is an opportunity for people on both sides of the argument to find common ground.
For some in the black community who also identify as being gay, particularly gay youth of color, the image of a gay black officer marching in uniform in the Pride Parade could be a powerful image.
Because of all the tumult in the community, the timing of the QPoc Brunch is perfect. It will be a chance to celebrate the people of color who have shown incredible courage in embracing the extra layer of othering Farabaugh was talking about.
Approximately 25 people will be featured in Our Lives Magazine’s 2018 Pride list. They were nominated online by other members of the community and decided upon by the QPoc Board.
Saturday will feature entertainment, hors d’oervres, drinks and a celebration of LGBTQ people of color during a time Madison needs it most.