I read with dismay and saw the horrendous pictures yesterday of Veronica Bolina, a Brazilian transgender woman, who was stripped, had her head shaved and face disfigured by the police in the South American country. I tweeted about this, and it went viral throughout the world and is still going.
This got me thinking about something that has been on my mind for a long time, why aren’t we shouting from the roof tops that LGBT Lives Matter too? As a former police detective who is both black and gay and served in Britain’s two biggest forces, I know more than most the two sides of the coin when it comes to minorities and the police.
Of late, I have watched in horror the shootings of unarmed black men in America and have been very vocal through my writing and advocacy work that Black Lives Matter. In fact, I’d just written an article about why LGBT people should stand behind the black movement as by doing so helps us all in the fight for true equality.
For many years, I have been fighting for equality for gay and black people within the UK’s biggest police force and it has been no mean feat. In Great Britain like America, black people account for the majority of deaths in police custody. But, it is not only people of colour who are suffering after coming into contact with law enforcement agencies.
The heartbreaking pictures of Veronica yesterday reminded me of all the LGBT lives lost after contact with the police and others through the pressure of bullying and misunderstanding by family and friends. The story of Leelah Alcorn still haunts me.
I write a lot about my experiences as a gay and black man, with my colour being visible whilst my sexuality is not. In essence, I can choose to not reveal my sexuality but not my race. That said, I know for many LGBT people through just being themselves or expressing their individuality, their identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans people can lead them into confrontation with the authorities and others. We still live in a world where many people cannot stand difference.
So it is for this reason we as minorities should be standing together as one. Fighting for all those minorities who suffer gives great integrity to our own cause. For me, supporting Black Lives Matter is important. Equally as important though is the fact that LGBT Lives Matter too, and we should be shouting this from the rooftops. If those in authority think for a moment they can get away with mistreating people of colour, do you really think they would treat LGBT people any differently? #SomosTodasVeronica
Kevin Maxwell is a writer, advocate and former detective of both the Greater Manchester Police and London’s Metropolitan Police. He was born in Liverpool, spent a decade in Manchester and now lives in London. His debut memoir, Broken, about discrimination and depression in the police force is out soon. He tweets @kevin_maxwell