Intersectionality is a crucial part of LGBTQ+ identity which has often been overlooked. The experiences of black members of the LGBTQ+ community are often cast aside, or homogenised within a very white understanding of what being LGBTQ+ means. Furthermore, black people who identify as LGBTQ+ often experience racism from within the community, and as a result often feel excluded from a supposedly diverse group.
W.E.B. DuBois coined the phrase ‘double consciousness’ to refer to the experience of being African-American, to simultaneously belong and be excluded from both Africa and America. This principle can be applied to being both black and LGBTQ+; some people who are black and LGBTQ+ may suffer from a crisis of identity and belonging which neither heterosexual black people or white LGBTQ+ people can fully relate to.
“Black LGBT people in Britain are often the victims of double discrimination: disadvantaged and discriminated against for being black; disadvantaged and discriminated against for being LGBT. LGBT and BAME people are both disadvantaged minority groups in the UK who continue to fight for equality, but too often LGBT blacks also have to fight for equality within these groups, defending the other part of their identity.” Maroon News
Celebrating our diversity is what being LGBTQ+ is about. In that vein, we’d like to share some BAME LGBTQ+ figures who have fought for representation.
Marsha P. Johnson: A black transgender pioneer and activist, Marsha P. Johnson was a key figure in the Stonewall Riots. Her life was extremely colourful; she was a sex-worker, was homeless, and also modelled for Andy Warhol. We owe Pride to Marsha, and she deserves to be remembered.
June Jordan: Jordan was a Jamaican-American poet, essayist, and activist. Her work explores gender, race, and bisexual representation. She was one of the first people to really write about the heart of intersectionality and its politics.
Karamo Brown: One of the Fab Five on the hit Netflix show Queer Eye, Karamo Brown is a T.V. personality and activist. He speaks frankly about being both black and gay, and co-founded 6in10.org, an organisation working to combat HIV stigma which provides mental health support and HIV education to black members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Jackie Kay: Kay is a black, Scottish, lesbian writer who is currently the third ever modern Makar (Scottish poet laureate). She has written many novels about black LGBTQ+ experiences, including The Adoption Papers, which you can read for free with your RBKC library card here.