Double Jeopardy

The many layered discrimination suffered by LGBT of color was in full display yesterday at the Prop 8 trial. The New York Times reports on the deposition of Helen Zia, a noted journalist, author, scholar and activist:

…her testimony was striking. There was a noticeable undercurrent of race that coursed through these moments in the proceedings, as a Chinese-American witness, prompted by an Asian-American lawyer, described a tableau of fear and hostility that she she said had faced as a lesbian. The testimony was a not-so-subtle reminder of the letter that Hak-Shing William Tam, a Chinese-American opponent of same-sex marriage, had sent to the Asian-American community in the Bay Area during the Proposition 8 campaign.

The letter was the centerpiece of a riveting moment Wednesday, when Mr. Tam was shown in a video discussing how he found evidence of a “gay agenda” on Google that indicated that gays and lesbians intended to legalize prostitution and sex with children after winning the gay marriage fight. The plaintiffs say the Fremont resident has distributed those views through a letter to the Asian Americans.

Ms. Zia vividly discussed her own experience working as a community organizer, when Asian and black leaders confronted her with the question of her sexual orientation, saying “it would be really terrible to have somebody who was homosexual to be working with us,” she said.

She denied that she was lesbian, and then “stepped into the closet and slammed the door.”

Her experience, sadly, is not unique.

You can follow me on Twitter @ErwindeLeon

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