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Pet Sins May 2000

Specifically invited only to be ignored: how Euro Am gay organizer treats token glbt ethnic minority

I work at a large corporation with a large gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender employees' group. One of the board members of the group had to organize a photo shoot of our members. The picture would potentially be used for the company's recruiting purposes.

Apparently, this white guy heard about my networking efforts with other people of color across racial lines. So he sent me an email expressing his concerns that only white males, in his own words, "the usual crowd that shows up for events", would turn up for the photo shoot. He wanted me to rally more people of color to show up and "show our diversity".

I told him I would try to generate interest, and that I would show up myself to support his effort at more diverse representation. When I did show up at the photo shoot, I saw this white male organizer taking down the names of every one who walked in, introducing himself, and asking questions about them. That was everyone except me. I was totally ignored. My presence was not acknowledged in anyway the whole time I was there.

There were no other people of color except 2 East Asian men, and one of them was dating a prominent white board member anyway, so he was always acknowledged on the basis of his powerful white partner.

I felt used, and I will not show up for such events any more to be their "token minority".

Queer person of color