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Supporting All the Letters of the Community: How the LGBT+ Community Can Better Address Intersectionality

The LGBT+ community is unique in that it is made up of a huge cross-section of all human society. There are people of all religious, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds who are LGBT+. This can be a strength, it makes us diverse and infinitely complicated as a group, but it also carries with it its own problems. Within the LGBT+ community there can be sexism, racism, transphobia and biphobia. This is the essential crux of having an intersectional identity.

 

Intersectionality is a concept often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another, according to Doctor Kimberle Crenshaw, who coined the term. 



 

Blog site Another angry woman writes that being a person with an intersectional identity is like standing in the middle of the road being hit by cars from many sides.

 

“One can think about a four-way junction (or, as the Americans call it, an intersection). One road is not being male,” they write. “Another road is not being white. Another road is not being able-bodied. The last road is not being cis. Now, if you stand in the middle of any one of these roads, you’re going to be dodging traffic. But if you stand right in the middle of the junction, you have cars coming at you from four ways, and you’re going to have to do… more dodging than you would have if you were just in one road.”

 

Equality Network warns that having an intersectional identity can generate feelings ofisolation, depression and other mental health issues. They also point out that many LGBT+ organisations often lack the awareness of intersectional people’s unique problems. For instance, they might not be aware of prevalent racist attitudes within their own group and accidently create an unsafe space for a minority ethnic queer person.

 

“The LGBTQIA+ movement is not for me because I don’t have the privilege to fight for a singled-issue movement,” writes Alan Pelaez Lopez.


Being a person with an intersectional identity is like standing in the middle of the road being hit by cars from many sides.

“I’m Black, low-income, and formerly undocumented… My Blackness is visible. My accent marks me a foreigner. And my gender presentation makes me a target of violence in a world where femininity is devalued and to be destroyed.”

 

Lopez notes that mainstream LGBT+ community focuses on singular issues: that gay people will march in Pride parades, but not for Black Lives Matter; they’ll campaign for marriage equality, but not against the legal racial profiling of queer people of colour and their subsequently higher incarceration rates. Lopez points to the hugely skewed murder rateof trans women of colour, to the limitations of great projects like the “It Gets Better Campaign” which seems to be squarely aimed at cisgender white queer people: “As I stare at a screen of two white gay men – who also happen to be cisgender, US citizens, and upper class – telling me that things will “get better” concerns me. Because the truth is that the message doesn’t address the concerns of my community.”



 

“Liberation takes hard work and a community commitment to help each other,” Lopez says.

 

“To be liberated, we need to work together. We need to analyse, critique, and provide ways to move forward.”

 

Where do we go from here? How do we help the intersectional members of our community?

 

It starts by listening to their problems, opening yourself up to changing your own practises, and being more aware of your privileges and the limitations of your own perspective. You have to educate yourself about other minorities within the LGBT+ community.


“To be liberated, we need to work together. We need to analyse, critique, and provide ways to move forward.” 

Lady Phyll talks about why she established UK Black Pride, that the queer black community were not “seeing ourselves in the wider Pride movement”, that there was active erasure of queer BAME voices (BAME meaning Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic). She saw a need to create a safe space, separate from the wider queer community, that allowed people to be both BAME and LGBT+.

 

Talking to the Gryphon she explained that intersectionality was a paramount issue for her. That there was an absolute need for LGBT+ people to recognise all aspects of the community.



 

Whenever she is asked how white people can be better allies, she says “they have to listen!” That it is important for them not to dictate but to sit back and hear what BAME people have to say.

 

She quotes Audre Lorde: “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives. Our struggles are particular, but we are not alone.” 

 

Then references the greatDesmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

 

The LGBT+ community is at its strongest when it is a united force. In order to be this united force we have recognise and give voice to everybody that makes up our community. If you want to educate yourself there are several resources at your disposal, and we recommend taking a moment to read through all of them.

 

UK Black Pride

LGBT+ Resource Center

GLAAD

GLAAD Trans Allies

Equality Network

 

 

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