"If I want to say August Wilson and Edward Albee were among the finest playwrights of the 20th Century, that's one designation. I could go on to say one was Gay and one was African-American."
Those are both true statements. So far, you're only stating facts about their identity and expressing a personal opinion about their worth as writers that is commonly agreed upon.
"How would you know my attitude towards that designation?"
You'd have to say something either complementary or derogatory about them based upon their identities, like, "all my favorite playwrights are gay and Albee is the best of all", or, "Albee was a pretty good playwright for a gay guy". That would tell me something about how you regard them based on their identity. So far you're just stating facts - he was a gay playwright, and being gay is neither good nor bad, it just is.
I hope that helps clear it up. I don't think this is about having a higher consciousness, I think we just have to unlearn the way that our society has taught us that recognizing differences is bad.