Noah’s Arc actor Doug Spearman has been a gay rights advocate since he was a child growing up in Washington, D.C. In fact, he was born into the prime time frame of the civil rights movement in 1962 – one year before Martin Luther King, Jr. would share his “I Have a Dream” speech in the very same city.
On August 10, 2009, HRC Backstory would release a personally-written essay by Spearman. Included were his thoughts on the racial divide within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities. Portions of his essay, titled Equality Forward: A National Conversation about Race, Sexuality and Gender, follow below.
“People tend to believe that racism, on all sides of the color lines, is something that stops at the gates of the LGBT community. As though at the entrance to the various Boys Towns around the country you were required to check your ideas about Blacks, Asians, Jews, Arabs, etc… the way cowboys were required to turn over their guns when they walked into a salon in the Old West. It just doesn’t happen that way. In fact, I think it’s worse now than it was when I came out in l980. Back then the bars felt a lot more friendly, prejudice was a dirty word, and the kids of the l960’s and early 70’s – those that had created the gay movement – were still on the dance floors of America elbow to elbow with the people who’d marched in Vietnam protests and Black Power parades, and had been active participants in the original Civil Rights Movement. Those were the grownups who were standing at the bar when I got there. They welcomed me. But they’re gone. That spirit seems to have evaporated. Not everywhere and not for everyone, but enough so that if you’re over the age of thirty-five you would notice.”
“It’s a different world for white Americans than it is for black, brown, and yellow Americans. Especially if you have education, income, and available resources. And we’re finally beginning to openly talk about the differences. Until we do, until we acknowledge the realities of all the -isms that exist within the LGBT community, we will never be able to face the discrimination and hatred that is aimed at us. Until we realize that the civil rights inequalities exist within the very worlds we’ve designed for ourselves then we’ve really just recreated the places a lot of us tried to escape from. Until rice queen and snow queen disappear from our own vocabularies, and until I don’t have to overhear two white guys describe me as Mandingo (as I did in a club in LA one night) then we’re not much better than the people out there who stand on corners with signs that say God Hates Fags.”
Spearman is best-known for his role in Noah’s Arc – A show on MTV’s Logo network chronicling the lives of gay black men dealing with love, relationships, gay marriage, gay-bashing, and acceptance. He has also had roles on Star Trek Voyager, The Drew Carey Show, The Hughleys, Charmed, Gideon’s Crossing, MAD TV, Girlfriends and Profiler. He currently serves on the Board of Equality California.
* Photography by David Ross. Photo used with permission.