"The things I've seen outside [in society] I've only seen perpetuated in the LGBT community," he said

By Robyn Merrett
June 04, 2020 02:30 PM
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Karamo Brown

Queer Eye's Karamo Brown is calling out racism in the LGBTQ community.

"There's a lot of racism that exists in the LGBT community," Brown, 39, told Reuters at the start of Pride Month and amid ongoing nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd. Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed while in Minneapolis police custody last week.

"The things I've seen outside [in society] I've only seen perpetuated in the LGBT community," said Brown, who is the only black member of the Fab Five. "Yeah, you might have had a struggle because you're gay, but white privilege still exists."

As dating apps like Grindr remove the ethnicity filter to combat racism, Brown noted that many "white gay men" allegedly didn't react positively.

"White gay men were like, 'This is wrong, I should have the right to be like, I don't want blacks, I don't want Asians,'" Brown said. "If you inherently don't understand why that is wrong, as a gay person ... then you need to check yourself."

"Growing up as a black man in America with immigrant parents raising two black sons, this is a constant conversation that I've been having," Brown continued. "These are constant things that I've seen with my friends and family members being harassed by police, being brutalized by police."

Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, Jonathan Van Ness, Antoni Porowski and Tan France
Patrick Lewis/Starpix for Netflix/REX/Shutterstock

Brown has been candid about his experience as a gay man, explaining in 2019 that his relationship with father was fractured for years after he came out.

"Growing up, my father was my hero. He called me his champion son. But then, as I started to discover who I am, things changed dramatically. When I was 17 going on 18, I told him that I was gay. Our relationship ended. It split the family apart and we didn't speak for 10 years," Brown said during an episode of Dancing with the Stars last October, revealing that they had newly mended their relationship.

Speaking to reporters after the show, Brown said watching his formerly estranged father interact with his fiancé, Ian Jordan, for the first time was particularly special.

"It's nice, because the 17-year-old little boy who identified as gay wanted his father to see him and love him and respect him," he said. "It took until I was 38 for that to happen and I'm hopeful that someone else out there can see my father and say to themselves, 'I haven't been respecting or loving my child because of how they identify, and maybe I can change, too.'"

"For him to be sitting next to my son  — there's generational trauma that's ending right there, but also being next to my fiancé," Brown added. "It blows my mind."

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.