I beg the queer people who read this that you consider preserving all the art and writing you create. That way, future generations have their own map should they face a crisis. “In this great gay mecca, I was an invisible man still. I had no shadow, no substance. No history, no place, no reflection.” – Marlon Riggs, Tongues Untied These words, featured in both the essential text Brother to Brother: New Writing by Gay Black Men and the equally important Tongues Untied movie, describe Marlon’s discomfort in San Francisco, the city that once was known as the gay capital of the world. In a sea of white bodies, he felt the racism and the isolation that comes with being black in a world that was white and cloned. These words were meant for a specific time, at a specific place, under specific circumstances. Yet, the idea of a queer person of color being invisible in the face of white queer people, in white queer places, in a white supremacist society – unfortunately – transcends specificity and those words are as true today as they were in 1991. For any culture, history is an essential tool that that helps to support the continued survival of a people and this is especially true for queer people of color. Black and Latinx queer people need our history because history can help us traverse the future. However, our history has been neglected and allowed to fall by the wayside, especially in comparison to our white counterparts. The few times that our history isn’t neglected is when white people can make a quick buck or create a legacy for themselves. Shout out to the Jennie Livingstons and David Frances of the world. Entire bodies of work by Black and Latinx writers are either lost or hidden from the reach of the people who would benefit most from them. For example, Assotto Saint’s seminal work Tales of a Voodoo Doll is $55.00 on Amazon. Another example, the work of Joseph Beam is scattered throughout university libraries, inaccessible to most people (and sometimes even students). Though some people may disagree, queer people of color having access to the literary work of our elders aids in our survival. All the queer writers, poets, and filmmakers of color created a running record of surviving in a white supremacist and heteropatriarchal world.
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