It’s important that we advocate for every member of our community so that they can celebrate who they are
BY NIC CROSARA, IMAGE BY PEXELS
Welcome to this week’s IMO AKA In My Opinion. This is a column where we approach some questions, queries and dilemmas we often hear from our readership and offer up some advice. Remember, this is by no means a one-size-fits-all kinda deal, but hopefully these words help you feel less alone.
For many LGBTQI people Pride events are a safe haven. Whilst we still have a long way to come with representation, there are many queer characters on our screens that allow people to feel seen. But for QTIPOC (Queer, trans and intersex people of colour) it is hard to find spaces where both our queerness and ethnicity are celebrated. There are far less characters who look, love or live the way we do onscreen and we have to navigate our intersecting identities and the different challenges and discriminations that come with them.
Whilst our oppressions differ in many ways, there are so many similarities. The tools required to liberate one marginalised group inevitably helps to liberate others who are marginalised as well. Our struggle is a collective fight and so we must not only advocate for the groups and communities that we belong to, but those who we do not as well.
As we near Pride month, it’s important that we advocate for every member of our community so that they can celebrate who they are. For June, and all year round.
Listen to QTIPOC
UK Black Pride’s 2021 We Will Be Heard Survey results showed that 25% of respondents felt that their local LGBTQI spaces were welcoming for Black people and people of colour. If you are an advocate for QTIPOC, you may be motivated by this finding to make changes to an LGBTQI space you manage based on your own assumption of what could make such a space more welcoming for QTIPOC. But without listening to multiple voices from within the community, chances are, even with good intentions, you may miss the mark.
It’s also important to understand the emotional labour that QTIPOC often have to go through to have our voices heard and understood. It’s important to decentre yourself and hold a space where you can actively listen to our lived experiences and needs.
Understand that we are not a monolith
With the above in mind, it’s important to note that we are not a homogenous group. We have different lived experiences, cultures, beliefs and needs. All our voices are valid and two different opinions can both be true at the same time. We live in a complex and multifaceted world. During the height of the Black Lives Matter 2022 movement, I had someone DM me to debate me on some of my views, by using a tweet made by another Black person. Please, stop using our voices to invalidate that of others in the community.
Many people of colour are exhausted from either being treated as a spokesperson for their entire community or having a white person throw another QTIPOC’s opposing belief at them in a debate. Treating us all as if we will agree on everything and have the same values does nothing to progress our community.
Whilst it’s important for allies to listen to our voices, one must understand the emotional labour of repeatedly educating others on the realities of our lived experiences. It is not our responsibility to relive our pain for you. If I was paid a pound every time a white peer asked me a race related question that they could have easily educated themselves on, I’d be a homeowner by now.
As with the above, make sure you are educating yourself by listening to, reading or engaging with a range of different intersectional voices. I’d encourage you to talk with other allies as well, and learn from each other. The learning never stops. The way our society works is continuously evolving.
Understanding your privilege can allow you to use it to help others. Is your voice listened to in a room more than LGBTQI people of colour? Have you been asked to speak at an event with a lineup of only white speakers? Say something!
Our world is set up to benefit some more than others. Whilst people can still be marginalised by their sexuality, they may not face discrimination for their ethnicity or gender. Privilege doesn’t mean that you have not worked for what you have, or that you do not face other difficulties in life. It simply means that the obstacles you have faced, or lack thereof, have not been caused by a certain aspect of your identity.
Advocate for us
By addressing the steps laid out above, you are now more equipped to stand up for us. Whilst people of colour often call out injustices, it’s important for our allies to do so as well. Our voices are often not heard.
Whilst raising your voice for those less marginalised is important, you must also ensure that you do not speak over the very voices you are trying to raise. Do not take credit for the labour of people of colour. You can address issues by amplifying our voices. If you are using your social media platform to address an issue, reshare posts by QTIPOC who are talking about it.
Performative allyship is rampant on social media. True allyship is an ongoing battle. Don’t say #BlackTransLiveMatter only when you see the hashtag trending. Advocate for our community even when no one else is talking about it.
Disclaimer: I am in no way a therapist, or professional coach in any way. This advice is just based on my own lived experience and would likely change for each nuanced individual. But I hope that you can take something from this. DIVA does not necessarily agree or disagree with the statements made in this column.
DIVA magazine celebrates 28 years in print in 2022. If you like what we do, then get behind
LGBTQI media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable.