Being gay in the late 80’s-90’s was largely different compared to how it is to the present day in America.
I’ve looked at a documentary ‘Paris is Burning’. The documentary was published in 1990 so at the height of this controversial era for both men and women. Being both black and gay during this period was seen as a massive ‘disadvantage’ it made life very difficult for them both financially and socially. This film is a chronicle of New York’s drag scene in the 1980’s, focusing on balls, Voguing and the ambitions and dreams of those who gave the era it’s warmth and vitality (Livingston).
The Ball rooms were full of so much life! The catwalks were full of enthusiasm and attitude. They showed off their many different styles – whatever they thought was appropriate for the category. Everything they made was borrowed, stolen or handmade, they were the minority so their income was low due to no employability so weren’t able to buy clothes, however this technique worked just as well for them as it was something they were so passionate about!
This era was’t a very supportive, especially from family and ‘straight’ friends. This lead them to form their own families that had a head of house (mother).
Since the documentary was published it’s been 26 years. Up to 2016 we’ve had many black/gay icons. People such as Naomi Campbell, Penelope Cruz, Eva Longoria etc. One position which shocked almost everyone was when Barack Obama became the first African American President who was for eight years running. However, besides history changing slightly this hasn’t effected peoples thoughts on black people. Especially when it comes to employment. White people often are offered the job over African Americans on most occasions. Equal rights are taken very seriously in the 21st century however, there is still a small minority which prevents it from being 100% equal.
BLM (Black Lives Matter)
Black lives matter is a chapter based national organisation working on the validity of Black life. They are working to rebuild the Black liberation movement. #blacklivesmatter was created in 2012 after Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted for his crime, and dead 17 year old Trayvon was posthumously placed on trial for his own murder. Black lives matter is a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of black people by police and vigilantes. http://blacklivesmatter.com
One major difference between the 1980’s and present day is that social media is now around and has been since late 1990. Everything can be shared, liked, uploaded and spoken about. This might initially make you think this is a bad thing and that it’s a way of hiding behind a screen and, yes it is, however, with media developing constantly and the people who support black and gay rights hopefully social media will be changing for the good and people will use it to challenge certain stereo types, rights and gender fluidity.