Tag Archives: queer

Whose Black Lives Matter?

Reposted from my personal blog 

 

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I was born in 1969, just as the UK switched from Imperial to the Metric system.  One half of my old family were stuck with inches, yards and shillings.  The other half of my family used millimetres and kilograms.  I was stuck exactly in the middle. I learned how to be familiar with both, but I was never really comfortable.

This kind of straddling two worlds reflected itself in other ways.  The place I was born had a huge Black Caribbean population, but I still felt like a minority because the white voices were very loud and pretty racist. I was not supposed to mix with white kids.  I was not supposed to make friends with them.  I seemed to have missed that memo however, and so I was called “Coconut” from the time I was five all the way until I was in my forties.  I was never considered a “proper” Black person.

Feeling unwelcome in either world was something encouraged by my violent and abusive family – it seems a common thing that many survivors experience.  Having no trusted friends meant having no source of help or support.  I was totally dependent on the people who made my life a misery until I ran away from Tottenham.

I realised I was bisexual after a memorable episode of Star Trek the Next Generation.  As I took in the bridge crew of the Enterprise, I knew I was sexually attracted to almost all of them – men, women, alien and android.  My initial joy was short lived though. Bisexual was an orientation that was unwanted by everyone: from my straight white boyfriend to the rest of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Gay and Gay) communities.  Black and fat was unwanted by most of the white bisexual community too. It was almost five years before I met a Black bisexual woman on holiday.  I tried to straddle two worlds once again, however I was considered too straight by Black gay men to even hold a conversation with, let alone be friends.  I was downright shunned by Black lesbians, presumably for ‘sleeping with the enemy’ twice over.  White queer folks were openly racist.  Once again I belonged nowhere.

I became an activist a few years after coming out.  I fought against racism in the LGBT communities.  I joined DIY groups that wanted fat liberation.  I put a word to my romantic feelings: Polyamorous.  I became vegan. I felt like a powerhouse!  And then the bricks started to crumble away.  Racism and Fatphobia in veganism was massive – and still is to this day.  Fat liberation was a complete blizzard when I joined, and remains so in the UK.  I was treated as if Black people were not really human in the first place, unless it involved sex.  A high percentage of the white bisexuals and polyamorous people who were accepting of me, became distant and cold outside of the bedroom*.  There was no place I could feel at home.

Now in 2020 I see everyone on this planet stating Black Lives Matter.  Countless numbers of Black Trans women and Black sex workers are brutalised and murdered around the world every day. The perpetrators sometimes include Black men.  Nobody goes on marches for them, or  acknowledges that they were even part of the Black race.  Black women are mistreated and murdered, by racist violence, the police, and often times by Black men they know.  Very few people say their name.  Even less want to look at the reality of living in a body that is supposed to shut up and put up with everyone else’s pain.  Black Lives Matter, but as a fat, bisexual, nonbinary, disabled Black person, I have rarely felt like my life held any worth.  I have lived with trauma, abuse, violence and my own self-hate for most of my life.  I have been so desperate that I self harmed as a way to cope being an abuse survivor with several mental health illnesses.  My first suicide attempt was when I was eight years old.  Everyone says Black Lives Matter, but the reality is unless you’re a cisgender straight man living in America, your Black life doesn’t mean that much at all.

I do not feel hopeful for the future.  I have seen the way older people without a family are left to rot by systems that are supposed to care.  When I was last in a mental health hospital, the fact that I had no family meant I was destined to stay there for good, despite being assaulted twice by other patients in just eight days.  It was my white friend with a posh accent, who called the secure ward and convinced them to let me out and into their care.  As grateful as I am to my friend, it saddens me to know the hospital medics would rather listen to a white middle-class person they had never met, than listen to my pleas to be discharged before I was assaulted again.  Medical racism, biphobia and fatphobia is literally life threatening for me.

Does my Black life matter to you? If you are white or a non-black person of colour, are you only concerned with Black folks murdered in the U.S, while ignoring those Black people being killed the next street over from you?  If you are Black, do you only care about other Black folks who look like you?  Do you ignore the most vulnerable Black lives because they are also queer, old, fat, disabled, homeless, or a sex worker?  Do you pick and choose which Black lives matter to you?

There are some worlds I can straddle, but many more I cannot when I am shoved between the cracks.  If the only way my Black life matters is to keep my sexuality a secret, ignore my gender presentation, and pretend I’m just like you, then my life never mattered to you in the first place.

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Muslim LGBT+ Pride!

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Imaan, the Muslim LGBT+ group are holding their first ever festival!  Tickets are on sale now: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/imaanfest-muslim-pride-tickets-90779683477 and include low-cost tickets of Queer Muslims on a low income.  We at Bisexuals of Colour are so pleased this is happening.  LGBT+ Muslims face racism, queerphobia and Islamaphobia inside and outside of Queer communities.  This is the an opportunity for often-alienated LGBT+ Muslims and their supporters to come together and celebrate who they are.  We stand with our Bisexual Muslim friends and siblings!

World AIDS day 2019

 

On #worldaidsday please remember the bisexuals and pansexuals of colour who are demonised as spreaders of sexually transmitted diseases, when the reality is that we face racism and biphobia when trying to access S.T.I help. We experience multiple barriers from medical institutions, from Queer communities and from communities of colour too. It often feels like there are few safer places for us. We shouldn’t have to fight battles on so many fronts. Bi’s of Colour are here for you (link in bio), but we are just one volunteer run group. You can support other bi & pan people of colour by calling out organisations who erase us. You can include us in your events & projects. You can stop being defensive and violent when we demand you stop pushing us under the bus. HIV & AIDS doesnt discriminate. You can do better than a disease.

An open letter to White Middle class BiCon attendees

Pic of member of the Philippine bi group, Both Sides, waving a bisexual flag
An open letter to whiteandmiddle class BIcon* attendees.

*
 
Share wildly, and do not tag, but do credit me: Nila K
 
***
 
*and this means if you go regularly now. But it also means if you don’t go any more because you got to stay for long enough to develop your own community, network, friends, lovers. This is a thing that space is magically good at.
 
but only for the Right Sort.


 
As far as I’m aware none of us Bi+/Pan BIPoC have ever suggested you boycott the event.

I mean, speaking personally, a lot of that is how laughably unlikely it is that me suggesting this would lead to anything except more traumatising grief. The idea that those of you who get to access this space and build networks that sustain you during the year might consider stepping back = nonsensical.


 
But most of it with me and many others – is that we don’t want you to be more marginalised than you are. As fellow (but not peer) bi people, we know what it is to be shat on everywhere else.

Thing is, we know what it is to have that compounded by finding the one place that purports to support you… and to have that shit on you in its turn.


 
Coz, despite what multiple people have said about and to me: I didn’t ‘choose’ to stop coming.

I was forced out by virulent and violent classist racism.

It was a choice between my whole social, emotional, professional, activist world … and myself.

And thank fuck that I chose myself.

But no one should have to make that ‘choice’.


 
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And yet we still don’t talk to you about this, and you still keep choose to support a horrifically exclusionary space and calling it community, family and (LOOL) radical. 


 
So, think on that when you deal with us, eh?

Connections with my skin – A Guest Post

A guest post from N. Gupta

 

I have basically a 99% hard limit re ‘no white people as lovers/play partners/fuckbuddies.

Because I am done showing/sharing my skin and body with people who have no clue what their white skin means.

And no investment in learning *to the level that I need for any encounter to be remotely good/pleaseuable for me*

if im ever gonna have that intimacy again

and tbh it feels unlikely and I go back and forth on how i feel about that

THEN :
i am prirotising black and brown bodies like AND unlike mine:

– trans, gender non conforming, bi, crip, mad, working/mixed class, immigrant bodies, goddess/magic/witchy bodies.

Bodies that contain multitudes and borders.

Bodies that get stopped and searched at borders and on the street.

***

Me, reading this back. OH. Right. Yes!

with endless thanks to Rhizome Syndrigast Coelacanth Flourishing whose writing and making and thinking and feeling and re-imagining have been so inmportant to me in last couple years  Love and solidarty to u, mate xx

It’s a 99% limit because someone being BIPoC doesn’t guarantee a connection. or that they won’t be shit to me, or me to them.

I donn’t get to ‘disappear’ into that world coz it’s not magically free of transphobic, biphobic, ableist, classist, sanist, capitalist, racist, liberal, faily etc bulllshit.

And if someone is qtibpoc but is that more comfortable hanging on to instead of challenging that stuff, our skin doesn’t make us kin.

And coz if you wanna be my lover .. you literally have to come round and deali with my messy house. Coz I’m largely housebound these days.

It’s a 99% limit because there are *and always have been* white working class people in my chosen fam. (and some of their families pretty expolicity chose/’adopted me)

We share and connect on many of these lines in ways.

And coz I have rarely found absolutism to be a useful/positive force/ i need pluralism and options.

So yeah

Bi Pride 2019

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I attended the first Bi Pride on 7th September 2019.  I was surprised at the turnout – it felt like hundreds of people were there!  I was also pleasantly surprised at being at the most diverse mainstream* bisexual event EVER.

I spoke on the Mental Health and Bisexuality panel, about the problems with long waiting times, how NHS mental health services are awful and putting bi and trans people in danger.  I also spoke up as an audience member during the session on Bi Community.  I raised the point of the barriers to building bi communities, when so many meet-ups and events were held in pubs, which are often unfriendly to visibly queer, POC, those who wear religious clothing, and/or gender non-conforming clothes.  These places are also often inaccessible to those with mobility issues.

Overall I was impressed at how professional the event was – the scale of things to do, and the community marketplace.  Also the Sensory relaxation room was small but it was AMAZING!

*mainstream, as in the event was not for bi people of colour only

Bi’s of Colour Bisexual of the Year!

We at Bi’s of Colour have known Andre for years, and have been impressed with his activism, his positivity, and his ability to keep going with a smile on his face.  We are all proud to have Andre as our first ever Bisexual of the Year!

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My name is André Lawson-Walters, and I’m a proud black bisexual from Wolverhampton, UK. I have been advocating for bisexuality for over five years.
Previously, I have been the Group Facilitator and Lead Campaigner for Brum Bi Group (Birmingham, UK) and the Group Facilitator for Third Way Bi Group (Wolverhampton, UK), both of which are bisexual support and social groups. As well as a being a Volunteer Outreach Worker with Terrence Higgins Trust.
I believe that advocating for bisexuality is crucial because even though roughly half of the LGBTQ+ community identifies as bisexual, we’re seldom represented.  This often leaves many bisexuals to feel invisible and alone. Especially if they are a Person of Colour. Nevertheless, I hope that by being so visible and open about my own bisexuality will help others (especially POC) to embrace their bisexuality.
Twitter: @BlaqueBohemian

Suffering does not build character

This 2017 article in Gal-Dem on self-care, was mostly a positive read, but something really jarred me: the line that read, “The oppression that we face builds character.”

NOPE

The oppression we face as bisexual people of colour, builds the likelihood of mental distress, anxiety, alienation and depression.  It is no wonder that bisexuals of all ethnicities are more likely to be suicidal, self-harm and/or abuse alcohol, cigarettes and drugs more than either straight or gay and lesbian people. (Source: The Bisexuality Report, Open University, 2012).  Add to that the racism bisexuals of colour face on top of all of this from white members of the LGBT+ and straight communities, and it’s not a recipe for building character at all (Source: Bi’s of Colour report, 2015)

The myth that suffering builds resilience is common, especially when aimed at women and femmes of colour.  Sure we have to go through many things that others don’t, but it wears us down in a way that’s terrible and often invisible.  What is worse, we are expected to see it as part of our daily lives.  The world is a cruel place for bisexuals of colour.  Don’t make it harder by putting the expectation of suffering on our shoulders as well.