Being part of the LGBTQ+ community

Posted on 18th July 2020

In understanding the position of POC from the LGBTQ+ community, we must look through a historical lens and see how such people would have been viewed in past societies. In present day, many ethnic communities hold a stigmatised view of homosexuality, it is something that negates their beliefs about what a man or women should be. However, these negative beliefs haven’t always been common.

 

When examining the pre-colonial era, ideas around sexuality and identity was different to how it is viewed now. Many argue that homosexuality is a ‘western’ concept, something that the ‘white’ man had come up with. However, several historians have found that past cultures have celebrated diversity and promoted acceptance. For example, Bushman artwork in South Africa has depicted men engaging in same-sex sexual activity. Additionally, in the Buganda Kingdom in modern-day Uganda, it was known that King Mwanga was openly gay and faced no hate from his subjects. Also, in India, it was made apparent that Hinduism celebrated differences in gender and sexual identity, in which such individuals were not seen as ‘inferior’. It was not until colonialism and imperialism where such ideas took a dramatic turn and still hold significance today. Before colonisation, LGBTQ+ individuals did not face persecution because of their sexuality, nor was there any anti-LGBT views. 

 

The spread of fundamental Christian attitudes was synonymous with colonisation, in which African and Asian nations were forced to adopt “new” values from British invaders in the 19th and 20th centuries. Homophobia was legally enforced by colonial administrators and Christian missionaries; this has allowed such discriminatory norms to be passed over through generations until contemporary day. For example, the “buggery laws” from Britain still have held in countries such as Jamaica in which you could be imprisoned for committing homosexual acts. In other countries, homosexuality is seen as so sinful that it is justified that you be killed for conforming to such a lifestyle.

 

This would have a significant psychological impact on many people who feel like they cannot be themselves because of the persecution they made be subject to. This has led many individuals to live a “down-low” lifestyle in which someone may commit homosexual acts secretly but appear heterosexual to the rest society. This is prevalent in the black community because many people argue that being gay equates with being weak or feminine; the antithesis of what a ‘hypermasculine’ black man should be. Such stereotypes have been highly influential for centuries, the media has been persistent in depicting black people as hypermasculine, aggressive or dominant characters and some would say, as a community, we have taken such stereotypes as truth. This is shown in the rap music for instance, where Ice Cube said that “true niggas ain’t gay” or to the church where black ministers and congregations have been relatively immune to accepting that Christianity can co-exist with accepting anyone from the LGBTQ+ community. The stigma of homophobia can, therefore, create significant psycho-social pressures for people part of the LGBTQ+ community creating very low self-esteem for individuals who are might be socialised into a community that doesn’t respect such difference or maybe hateful in their rhetoric to such groups. Hence not making it possible for people to express their true self fully.

 

Recently we have seen the Black Lives Matter movement flourish, society is now seeing that black people are treated as less-than in society and it is therefore important to find ways to tackle such injustice. However, some have been critical in the BLM in not valuing ‘all’ black lives. There is an ‘epidemic of violence’ in America, in which many transgender people are being faced with acts of violence. There are countless instances, for example, the black trans man Tony McDade lost his life to police brutality and there are viral videos of black trans women being beaten across America. Despite there being a cry for justice for these people, the cry is not loud enough because there isn’t the same public outcry for them in contrast to black cisgender people facing injustice. Black trans people are tired, they want to be seen but many people are ignorant in not trying to understand their life experiences. It is therefore important to understand the diversity in black people and recognise the voices and struggles of trans people of colour especially now as they still marginalised in society.

 

Despite there being a gradual change in attitudes to the LGBTQ+ community, significant improvements still need to be made. LGBTQ+ youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth. Many are facing psychological issues because they are made to feel inferior and in turn find it hard to come out and be themselves. We must stop demonising such groups as ‘other’, we have experienced such rhetoric from white individuals, so why is it right to perpetuate it on others. There needs to be a more positive construction of masculinity, in which being dominant or physical doesn’t always have to be associated with being black, we are allowed to express or vulnerable side without being seen inferior or having or sexuality undermined. Having a more open and honest discussion of black sexuality is crucial, this can be done for example by teaching students about historical figures who are part of the LGBTQ+, to having more films that present black sexuality in a more radiant light. Such forms of representation are very important as more people will see that one sexual or gender identity shouldn’t be seen as an issue. Instead, it is important that as a community we are accepting and take a role in tackling homophobia and transphobia.

 

 

 

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