‘How great of a time we’re in’: Why Karamo Brown is inspired by ‘difficult’ conversations around race, LGBTQ pride and coronavirus

While the world is grappling with the coronavirus pandemic, ongoing issues of racial injustice and challenges the LGBTQ community still faces during Pride Month, Karamo Brown is encouraging people everywhere to shift their perspective around the complex conversations that are happening and to embrace them as a positive thing.

“I’ve been challenging people to look at this time as not weird, as not hard, as not difficult, but to look at this time of growth and this time of education and this time where people are being galvanized to support others as a very inspiring time,” the Queer Eye culture expert said during a conversation with LinkedIn on Tuesday. “I personally just throughout my career and throughout my personal life always look at times of growth as happy moments and not as challenging moments because when you think of something as a challenging moment, a weird moment, it becomes daunting.”

Brown, who embraces his intersectional identity as a black gay man, went on to discuss the difference between “fear-based language” and that which is “love-based,” addressing the powerful impact that perception can have on how things are accomplished.

“If someone tells you a job you’re about to go into or a class you’re about to start that they’re like, ‘Ugh, you’re gonna hate the boss. Oh, my God, the boss is so weird or oh, my gosh, the teacher’s so hard,’ immediately you start to digest that fear-based language and you start to say to yourself, ‘This is not going to be OK for me, it’s not going to work. I can’t do this, this is hard, this is not something that I should be a part of,’” he explains. “But when you switch the language in your mind to something more positive, love-based, then you’re like, ‘Oh, you know what, I can go into this class and do great.’”

When approaching the ongoing racial tension and police brutality that’s currently plaguing the United States, Brown also advocated the importance of reflecting on similar times throughout history to gain some understanding of what this moment will later become.

“I think back to the civil rights movement and in the moment every single one of those people were like, ‘Oh my gosh, look at this, this is so difficult.’ And yes, there are moments that you feel as if, ‘How am I going to conquer and how am I going to get over this?’ But in actuality, what’s happening is that there’s a conversation happening,” he continues. “There [are] people being motivated and being awoken that weren’t a part of this before. … There are people who are affected by the coronavirus, but also there are so many people now who are saying, ‘You know what? I need to take responsibility for my fellow person and make sure that I’m doing my part to protect them.’ And when I think about all of that, I think about how great of a time we’re in, how inspiring of a time we’re in.”

Brown continued on the same note of reflection when discussing the celebration of the LGBTQ community taking place throughout Pride Month in June. And although the coronavirus has affected the usual festivities that take place, he suggests that this provides a moment for the LGBTQ community itself to be more open-minded and inclusive.

“I think that a lot of times we think that the enemy is without or is not within our community, it’s outside our community. But there’s a lot of individuals within our community who still subscribe to racist, transphobic and sexist ways, and we can see this clearly in any club you go to where you walk in and it’s all men, cisgender men that all look the same,” Brown says. “Where is the diversity, where’s the different races, the different cultures, where are women, where are the trans individuals, where are my bi folks, where are my pan individuals? And I think it’s about realizing that the reason that these clubs are like this and these spaces are like this is because still within our own community there’s racism, there’s transphobia, that we need to get over and we need to start addressing because if we don’t address it, then we’re just gonna be perpetuating what we see outside in the world within our own community.”

With many of the nation’s most troubling issues coming to light now, Brown emphasizes that it is all in the spirit of pride, which he describes as “empathy and education and evolving.”

“It’s about asking people to be empathetic to our experiences and to understand what we’re going through so that you can join our fight. And it’s about asking people to educate themselves so they can get in these spaces,” Brown says. “And I think that’s what people should really be reminding themselves right now.”

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