A Compilation of Black LGBT Voices
June – Pride month, and whilst companies change their logos, and homepages to reflect their support of the world’s LGBTQIA+ communities, UK Black Pride tells us in their 2021 report that there is a growing number of black trans and non-binary people suffering from severe mental health impacts which surpass that of their white counterparts. The report entitled ‘We Will Be Heard’ also details the general feeling of QTIPOC (Queer, Trans, Intersex People of Colour) of being unsafe on the streets of the UK.
Religion and faith are also linked to the discrimination that minority ethnic LGBT people are experiencing, with many from the Muslim community still feeling unable to come out to their family and friends, and even dressing differently in public, not only to hide from their family their gay identity but also from those who have Islamophobic views.
In 2018, Stonewall produced statistics showing that while 51% of QTIPOC people reported racism within the LGBTQIA+ community, this figure grew to 61% for black people specifically.
Amber Hikes’ new pride flag, launched in 2017 to reflect black and brown within the rainbow colours, was created in direct response to racism towards the black community.
Within the workplace, micro-aggressions are even more apparent, with assumptions about black and queer people’s acceptance by their families, colleagues’ failure to understand that discrimination can occur by groups that are discriminated against, and even accusations of poor mental health. This means that career progressions for QTIPOC people can be stunted.
To help raise awareness of this niche group within a group, I spoke to 4 people about their experiences of being LGBTQIA+ and Black, and although I could imagine the scope of the problems – hearing their fears, the things they have to consider and come across on a day to day basis – it really highlights that when you mix the intersectionality of race in with being from the queer community, that we haven’t even scratched the surface when it comes to equality for these groups.
“Openly coming out as bisexual is something that was super scary and honestly, if someone didn’t expose me to my family, I may not have done it yet. Being black and LGBT+ is still a taboo for so many reasons and wasn’t sure that I was ready to fight all the obstacles that would come with it. The church tells me I’m going to hell and will probably attempt an exorcism because it’s against God’s will. My Nigerian culture tells me that I will be disowned as it’s an embarrassment to our heritage and family name. Some of my friends welcome me with open arms but the barrage of questions while on my new journey of discovery is infuriating. I can’t speak for white people as a whole but I don’t know if their LGBT fight is the same. They don’t have culture, religion and race to consider when they choose to live in their truth. We on the other hand have so many variables to consider before we’re allowed to just be ourselves freely”.
Celestina – Bi Woman
“Being a black gay man without a complex of some sort is a rarity. With there being so many different areas that this could arise, some of these would start developing from a younger age than most within the gay male community. Where we differ from our white counterparts is the level of involvement and influence our family has on us and the role that plays in our acceptance and understanding of ourselves. That being due to the culture and the fabric of black cultural existence for generations – whether it’s the negative impact of man-made indoctrinations in the guise of faith & Christianity or the traits we feel a black man should or shouldn’t have which derived from slavery and having to move within a society that has the odds stacked against us.
The vast majority of our counterparts within the community have the luxury of these things not being an added cross to bear on top of your sexuality. With that, many of them are able to live their full lives out loud with every stage and aspect of their life previously being carried through to their life now. The few of us that were raised in black households who were simply supportive and accepting of their son being attracted to the same sex, rather than it being called a ‘lifestyle” (which can lead to another complex) were able to carry their loved ones and aspects of their lives through into this new chapter. This is not the case for many of us wanting to live in our truth however, many of us had to leave things behind and choose between the life you have and the life you now have to live.
As a result of this, even within the gay community, there is such a clear divide due to race and more times than not we do not meet at the intersection of sexuality just because that is the thing that runs true for both sides. Generally, in society/ pop culture entertainment etc, now more than ever there is a lot of improvement in inclusion and representation of race within the gay community.
However, what is shown is only what the powers that be deem tolerable/logical and most importantly marketable to them. This is why on your screens and in your TV shows you’re far more likely to either see; flamboyant, feminine black gay men with outlandish points of view or white gay men of any description with similar points of view, over (what’s been perceived and defined by them as) a “straight presenting” more masculine black gay man with somewhat traditional views.
Almost as if they’re trying to hide us in order to reinforce the notion that we’re so different and dissimilar to the black straight man – which couldn’t be further from the truth, it just perpetuates the divide. Which subliminally is the rhetoric that we see our news/media outlets trying to push even to this day.”
S.S – Gay Man
“To be in this world and not only deal with racial discrimination & prejudices but also deal with homophobia and shame within the church, you feel excluded within the communities you are meant to feel a part of. I had to start looking at my intersectionality as positive as it makes me who I am. There is racism in the LGBT community & homophobia in the black community but I have to defend who I am to those that should understand. It’s heartbreaking but I’ve got to protect my peace and know my home is with those black queer people; walking the world sharing that intersectional experience of hate & judgement.”
S.R – Queer Man
“Being black and gay comes with added pressures that are not always seen to the eye. Within the Black race, we have found it hard to truly see ourselves and as a result, we fail to truly see each other; Even our fellow black brother or sister. These inabilities stem from our colonial past, slavery, religious teachings and societal regulations that have carved our ideology. Not every race has experienced this type of trauma and control leaving the black community with misconceptions about their sense of identity, spirituality and of course sexuality.
Until we can overcome the idea of separation, we will continue to exclude facets of who we are whilst committing to who we were forced to become. We were indoctrinated to think that freedom in sexuality is a sin. Now, we see sexuality simply starts from within.”
Du-Wayne – Queer Man
Happy Pride Month 😊