It's not the same time. The threat--not reality--of being turned away from a restaurant, denied service because of a queer identity in 2014 is not the same as walking into a restaurant in 1960 and having the knowledge that you may not walk out of there alive. That you'd have to come to peace with that--and also the knowledge that no one would be prosecuted for your death--then by all means. (p.s., where were you when this happened?)
But that's the not the situation for LGBTQ folks today. Yes, we are denied rights, and are physically and emotionally violated, tortured, and murdered, but the violence that structured and continues to structure Black lives, Black bodies (past and present) in photographs you so carelessly reference is different. And I really don't understand the parallels. The need to make that connection. To use Black faces to characterize a community that many of us experience, collectively anyway, as white, often male, and increasingly normative. No, it's not that I don't understand them...it's that I don't have access to them. I don't presume.
And I don't think I have to explain why these are not the same struggles. The same oppression. Why they should never, ever be compared. And why I want to move just a little bit further away from those queer folks who want to post and repost images like the one above. Who don't hesitate to make casual references to the violent racism that brutalized African American civil rights organizers--um, some of whom were gay--in the mid-twentieth century. I can't muster much more energy trying to communicate why those comparisons feel dangerous, divisive, not to mention wholly inaccurate. Or why, in those comparisons you effectively try to erase my entire existence. Instead, I'll leave those words to Cherríe Moraga who said,
In this country, lesbianism is a poverty-as is being brown, as is being just plain poor. The danger lies in ranking the oppressions. The danger lies in failing to acknowledge the specificity of the oppression. The danger lies in attempting to deal with oppression purely from a theoretical base. Without an emotional, heartfelt grappling with the source of our own oppression, without naming the enemy within ourselves and outside of us, no authentic, non-hierarchical connection among oppressed groups can take place.When the going gets rough, will we abandon our so-called comrades in a flurry of racist/heterosexist/what-have-you panic? To whose camp, then, should the lesbian of color retreat? Her very presence violates the ranking and abstraction of oppression (from "La Guera," 1981).
Or maybe Perez Hilton, the Cuban-American (often read as white) queer explains it well in his recent claim that "every gay man has a (fierce!) Black woman inside him." Does he mean Celia Cruz? Just curious.
So don't compare what you have delineated as y(our) struggle with mine. 'Cause your blues? Ain't.