‘Go the Way Your Blood Beats’: Research, Scholarship, Thinking and Activism from the LGBTQ POC Community

In 1984 as part of a special section titled ‘The Future of Gay Life’ assembled to mark the fifteenth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, the Village Voice interviewed celebrated novelist, urbanist, and civil rights leader James Baldwin. In the interview, Baldwin highlights the importance, danger and responsibility of love generally, and the intersection between race and sexuality specifically.

“A [B]lack gay person who is a sexual conundrum to society is already, long before the question of sexuality comes into it menaced and marked because he’s [B]lack or she’s [B]lack….I think white gay people feel cheated because they were born, in principle, into a society in which they were supposed to be safe. The anomaly of their sexuality puts them in danger, unexpectedly.”

Baldwin also notes that, “The discovery of one’s sexual preference doesn’t have to be a trauma. It’s a trauma because it’s such a traumatized society.” Ending with what he describes as the best advice he ever received, he notes “…to go the way your blood beats. If you don’t live the only life you have, you won’t live some other life, you won’t live any life at all.”

This POCIG roundtable will be a moment to acknowledge the lack of attention to and representation of the needs, desires, love and lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and queer+ (LGBTQ+) peoples within mainstreamed planning scholarship and practice. Thirty-five years after Baldwin’s reflections, and fifty years after Stonewall, we will engage with the intersectional experience of LGBTQ people of color, thinking about race and sexuality alongside poor and working class LGBTQ peoples, and LGBTQ peoples who are also members of Indigenous, disability and immigrant communities. The roundtable will highlight and celebrate research, scholarship, thinking and activism emerging from within LGBTQ communities of color. This roundtable will also be an opportunity to discuss and commit to the types of change and healing needed to affirm LGBTQ people of color life–in community, in practice and in academia–unapologetically and with love.

Goh, Kian. 2018. Safe cities and queer spaces: The urban politics of radical LGBT activism. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 108(2):463-477, DOI:10.1080/24694452.2017.1392286.

Goldstein, Richard. 1984/2018. ‘Go the way your blood beats’: An interview with James Baldwin. The Village Voice. https://www.villagevoice.com/2018/06/22/james-baldwin-on-being-gay-in-america/ [last accessed May 23, 2019].

Martinez, Arianna. 2015. Queer cosmopolis: The evolution of Jackson Heights. In Petra Dona (ed) Planning and LGBTQ Communities: The Need for Inclusive Queer Spaces. New York: Routledge.

Zenen, Jaimes Perez, Dani Marrero and Hi Carlos Padilla. 2016. No More Closets: Experiences of Discrimination among the LGBTQ Immigrant Community. Washington DC: United We Dream.