What an emotional week for LGBTQ-SGL people of color.
We are mourning the deaths and terrors of more than 100 victims of the Orlando gay nightclub massacre that took place over the weekend. Let us remember that this was not just any gay nightclub. This nightclub hosted a Latin-themed night that drew hundreds of LGBTQ-SGL people of color, of which many met their deathly fate, despite the gunman telling the victims that Black people were not his targets.
There are also a few of us Black LGBTQ-SGL people who are truly concerned about the fate of Bayna Lekhiem El-Amin, a New York Black LGBTQ advocate who faces between six to thirty years for defending himself against white gay male named Jonathan Snipes, and his lover, in a restaurant brawl using “excessive force.” This took place inside the popular Dallas BBQ restaurant in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood where Black gay men, from NYC and beyond, value a sugary margarita cocktail and Jack’d hookups over taking a stand against Dallas BBQ’s slanderous protest against El-Amin by promoting that El-Amin started a homophobic and racist hate crime against Snipes despite possessing video evidence that proved Snipes provoked the brawl by coming over to El-Amin to strike him with an object. Refresh your memory by clicking on this link.
Nonetheless, Black LGBTQ-SGL men refuse to find a great spot for flavored margaritas and mediocre, microwaved-tasting food out of more than 9500 restaurants in Manhattan in protest against Dallas BBQ. I, too, patronized Dallas BBQ three months ago to meet up a buddy of mine from out of town because he was dead-set on being there. I regret that feeling like a hypocrite and a traitor to El-Amin.
Not even Black gay organizations in metropolitan New York City bothered to publicly stand up for El-Amin – not one Black gay party promoter, not one black LGBTQ-SGL clergy, not one Black/neighborhood pride organizer, not one Black/gay queer “real” journalist, not one Black gay/queer/SGL men’s or youth group/organization — but a faithful few from the ballroom House of Ebony.
Instead, Black gay/queer/SGL men wanted to see me, a blogger whose protest against white gay media and Jonathan Snipes gone viral, sound off throughout the year, while some hoped that I would get caught up in some mistake along the way to finally prove that I am not a voice to follow in the Black LGBTQ-SGL community. Instead, Black gay/queer/SGL men wanted to see me with pseudo-concern of how El-Amin’s trial is going as if I kept a daily journal on El-Amin; though I kept touch with him to keep him in positive spirit as much as possible. Instead, Black gay/queer/SGL men wanted to pass around great call-to-task pieces by the few real Black gay/queer/SGL voices like Son of Baldwin. Instead, Black gay/queer/SGL men wanted to discuss their alleged disgust and care to take stand in Facebook groups and Twitter. Instead, Black gay/queer/SGL men wanted to protest bars in cities like Atlanta, where Black LGBTQ people do not frequent en masse, over a dress code that allegedly targeted Black patrons solely. Instead, Black gay/queer/SGL men support problems that affect people who do not look like them more than they will support people who look like them — look no further than the social media timelines and articles written by many “Black queer male feminists.” These so-called Black queer male feminists only cry – in social media and blog posts – over Black transwomen, Black women and effeminate gay men, especially those who are impoverished and gender-shattering their identities. In other words, a Black gay/bi/SGL man like El-Amin would not be on their radar because he presence as an all-around Black male, like them, is seemingly not oppressive enough for them to take a stand. That will be a topic to elaborate in the future.
Instead, Black gay/queer/SGL men clamor to complain via social media about how white gay publications do not show Black gay/queer/SGL men in positive light compared to white gay men, but they still subscribe and read those white gay media they gripe about. These same Black gay/queer/SGL men largely ignore Black LGBTQ media, even when they are featured yet praise white gay media when they are featured on their publications.
Instead, Black gay/queer/SGL men are [rightfully] supporting causes like the victims of the Orlando massacre because it is easier to follow what millions of people are doing than what millions of people do not care to empathize. At the same time, these same Black gay/queer/SGL men will tell people not to tell others what and how to sympathize as they hypocritically write status updates and blog posts and upload videos charging people who do not stand up against homophobia with them.
Instead, there are some Black gay/queer/SGL idiots seeking to be a minority for attention sake by bringing up that El-Amin should have never hit his attackers with a chair in self-defense. To them, I say “I want to be the first to know when you are in a similar predicament so that I may provide an insensitive commentary.”
Why am I going off on this tangent targeting Black gay/queer/SGL men, unlike my anti-white gay privilege stance from last year? It was the white gay privilege that started El-Amin trial, but it is the Black gay silence that has kept El-Amin in legal hell – and in Riker’s Island – for the past year. Even El-Amin expressed to me over the last year that he has felt a deafening silence of empathy or help from the Black LGBTQ-SGL community, especially the ballroom house scene and Black LGBTQ-SGL advocacy groups of which he has socialized with over the past couple decades.
Black gay/queer/SGL men must understand that El-Amin could have been any of us – with or without the chair. In fact, many of us can attest that at one point of our lives in the gay social scene, we have felt a treatment similar to El-Amin by being wrongfully targeted, accused, slandered and punished because of our skin color.
Remember how the white gay media – Joe My God, Towleroad, Gaily Grind, Queerty, Advocate, Out, Instinct, etc. – and white gay New York politicians showed up and showed out and rallied thousands of their loyalists to demonize El-Amin as a racist homophobe, even with no apology and retractions after evidence provided that he fought in self-defense and never used slurs against his attackers? Because they roared, they changed the course of how the truth was twisted where the original attacker is free to roam and continue being a drunken
and alleged coke-addicted hothead. Because the Black gay/queer/SGL of NYC and abroad chose to be silent, El-Amin is paying for the sins of Snipes — and his chair throwing, thanks to the owner of the viral video on YouTube and Dallas BBQ restaurant for not releasing video of the entire fight, both who allowed a false narrative furthered damaging his chances at a fair trial and championed a wrongful damnation upon a man who fought in self-defense. His blood is on their hands, as if they care.
Black gay/queer/SGL men, public silence and social media hashtags and chatter do not create change for our betterment. Do not be fooled out how social media chatter has helped Beyonce’s Beyhive fanbase harrassment toward anti-Beyonce celebrities as being a paradigm for social media gripes on real social problems like the ones we face because the colors of our skin. When we as a community value ourselves and our dollars by patronizing the people who appreciate rather than tolerate and slander us, those institutions, who seemed to have worked against us, will change their attitudes and behaviors toward us because they need our money when their usual customers – white gays and/or heterosexuals are no longer bringing in the revenue the businesses are accustomed. Look no further than the bars and nightclubs who offer their spots to Black gay party promoters for exclusive nights when their patrons of before stopped patronizing.
Needless to say, I showed up to El-Amin’s sentencing this morning. After waiting more than two hours, a couple dozen of us supporters learned that El-Amin’s sentencing has been postponed until June 28.
Some thought that the delay was a good sign. I disagree.
The cynic in me believes that the Orlando massacre played a part in the District Attorney’s – not the judge’s, which I may highlight later – decision to delay the sentencing because there could be sympathy for the Black gay male, El-Amin, who has fought the homophobic hate crime narrative against him over the charges he currently faces. This ordeal caught worldwide attention, like the Orlando massacre regardless of public reaction; thus, El-Amin’s sentencing could overshadow the Orlando massacre if it was set today. I also believe that the delay may be a tactic to discourage El-Amin supporters from returning to the delayed date. With smaller visible support to El-Amin, the District Attorney, and the judge if you believe the judge has power over this case, there will be less guilt over handing El-Amin a lengthy sentence.
Whether you believe that El-Amin should be punished for knocking out one of his aggressors with a chair in self-defense, El-Amin could serve more time than murders and rapists get in New York City, especially white ones. Does a crime while exercising self-defense deserve more, or the same, punishment as cold-blooded and pre-meditated crimes?
Conversely, this can be an opportunity for the Black LGBTQ community to show up in larger numbers to support El-Amin. I understand that many of us are scheduled to work on Tuesday mornings, but if you could donate four hours of your paid time off and/or canvas your friends – regardless of race and gender – and community leaders to show up, your support is greatly appreciated. All Black LGBTQ organizations, ballroom houses and social groups in the New York City area should send at least one representative to show up in support.
After all, our Black LGBTQ-SGL presence and refusal to be silent are more than just to support Bayna El-Amin. Our collective presence is to support ourselves now and for the future.
P.S. Do not call, text, e-mail or message about this case. I do not care about El-Amin’s looks. I do not care about how you feel when you do not care to express it publicly. I do not care about your feelings if you still frequent Dallas BBQ and write for/support white LGBTQ media. I care about his justice. I care about the justice for Black LGBTQ-SGL people. Prove that you care by your actions, especially if you have been patronizing Dallas BBQ.