Parsing out complexities of intersectionality

A column published in Tuesday’s paper titled “LGBT Community’s unseen racism problem,” caught my attention, and I immediately began to read. But what I found when I was reading this column was an emotional response that left me raising my eyebrows.

While the column did open the conversation about racism in the LGBT community, the columnist missed the opportunity to address the things that make the LGBT less inclusive: the conversation on intersectionality and the conversation of preference versus racism.

First, let me just say that there is no “fine line” between preference and racism. Having a preference is not only racist but sexist as well.

As an afro-indigenous ally to the LGBT community, I will be the first to tell you that I do not know what it is like to have the experiences an LGBT individual does. But I do experience racism and sexism and those are both things I can speak about.

A woman of color can tell you that sometimes the racism she experiences can be sexist and the sexism she experiences is racist, so it is no surprise that the same can happen to LGBT people of color.

An Australian study published in the summer of 2015 looks at sexual racism, which the abstract describes as “a specific form of racial prejudice enacted in the context of sex or romance.”

In that same summer, a UK charity publication FS magazine surveyed 850 gay men of color.

Eighty percent of the black men who responded to the survey said they had experienced some sort of racism while on Britain’s gay scene. Even worse, 63 percent of black and South Asian men reported racism within the community being a worse issue than homophobia.

“Intersectionality” is a word that I’ve heard often, mostly with the feminist movement.

“Intersectionality” is the idea that describes ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another.

Instead of using myself as another example, I will use my sister who identifies as lesbian, but like myself, is of mixed races. Since her identity as a woman and a member of the LGBT community are both a part of her. They cannot be separated. As goes for LGBT black men. One hour, they could be getting followed around a store in fear of stealing something; the next hour, they could be having an experience similar to the one(s) described in the previous column.

The only way to get past sexual racism in the LGBT community is to converse. It is important to have these conversations about sexual racism so can grow as a community.

I agree with the column that the LGBT community is becoming strong. However, I think the column is being too hard on the LGBT community for not knowing about things that haven’t been brought up in conversation or discussion yet. The LGBT community is not perfect, like any other community. It will have its flaws at the start. But the bigger it grows and the more people talk to each other about issues, the stronger it will be.

This is in response to the column “LGBT community’s unseen racism problem” originally published February 2. 2016, which can be found here.
This response column has been updated for the internet by the original writer.
This response column first appeared in the independent student publication, The BG News on Feb. 4, 2015. You can find their web edition here.