Tag Archives: Black Culture

Finding Acceptance: What Happens When You Are A Minority Within A minority?

As an LGBTQ person or as a black person, deeply held prejudices and systematic oppression threaten to deny you your human rights and keep you from prospering (e.g being turned away from jobs or housing or being mistreated by the police).

But what happens when you are a black LGBTQ person, and you become a minority within a minority?

Aziza Miller explores this in an article for The Gazette, explaining that

there is a struggle for people who are both black and queer to deal with two identities that tend to conflict with one another”. Miller notes that “homophobia in the black community and racism in the queer community make it difficult for queer black people to feel accepted in groups that also experience marginalization”.

Although it’s often glossed over with the excuse that there are ‘more important’ things to talk about, racism is rampant in the LGBTQ community. This is made quite clear in videos such as ‘Gay Guys React To Racist Grindr Profiles’ in which some gay men using the app are simply not open to dating gay men of colour.

It’s also not uncommon for non-black LGBTQ people to ‘act black’ (e.g mannerisms and instances of blackface), with famous white gay YouTuber Tyler Oakley having been called out several times for his ‘sassy black woman’ accent.

Miller also notes that gay bars have a habit of discriminating against employees and patrons of colour too.

A 2005 investigation by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission found that S.F Badlands (a popular bar in the Castro neighbourhood) routinely discriminated against African American customers and job applicants. The commission found that the bar’s owner, Les Natali, had also referred to African-American people as “non-Badlands customers”.

Miller’s article looks at homophobia within the black community as well. One belief that some people within the black community have is that black people simply are not LGBTQ (something that perhaps stems from poor ethnic diversity when it comes to LGBTQ characters in media).

Other black people – just like people of other minorities – may use religion as a basis for bigotry.

Recent findings from that Public Religion Research Institute dispelled the idea that African-American people are more likely to be homophobic, and may actually be more in support of LGBT equality than their non-black peers (the hope not to see LGBTQ people denied human rights as black people are is a factor).

That said, it doesn’t make the anti-LGBTQ prejudice from the black community felt by black LGBTQ people any less real, and the struggle to make both communities as welcoming as they can be continues.

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Lena Waithe Talks The Importance Of Self-Love As A Black Gay Woman

Lena Waithe – Netflix’s Master of None as Aziz Ansari’s truth-talking friend, Denise – has shared a touching letter to her younger self about self acceptance, love, sex and being proud to be black and gay.


In the Refinery29 video LoveMe, Wathie talks about why it’s important to have self-love as a black gay woman.

A big issue within the LGBT community is embracing oneself and not being ashamed. Especially among people of color, you still get those people who aren’t very open and who don’t want everybody to know. Within the Hollywood industry, you still have a lot of [Black] people who aren’t openly gay.

If you think of it, in terms of how many people there are in Black Hollywood, the numbers just don’t add up. There are way too few people who are out. It’s like that hashtag that’s going around, #oscarssowhite; I’d say #blackhollywoodsostraight.”

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She also shares the story of meeting her now partner (that dream woman she talks about in her video), Alana Mayo, who was straight-identified before meeting Lena, and how other people discuss her sexuality:

People will ask my girlfriend, ‘Alana, are you gay? Are you straight?’ For a second, she was trying to figure out, ‘Am I a lesbian?’ I was like, ‘No, I don’t think you should call yourself that, because a lesbian means you were born gay. I’m a lesbian.’ Then, she was like, ‘Am I bisexual?’

And I’m like, ‘Maybe?’ She was like, ‘You know what? I’m not going to label it. I’m just going to be myself.’ I think it’s interesting that we can say, ‘Look, sexuality is fluid and love is where you find it.’


Watch the video below:

The Black Lesbian Handbook

Channel 4’s 4oD, is currently showcasing a new series – The Black Lesbian Handbook, which is has been pitched as ‘a lively guide to the underground Black Lesbian scene in Britain’.

The show is focusing on different aspects the black lesbian community – from studs, to the underground black LGBT scene, tokens (the minority white women who hang about on the scene), fems, and Stems (a lesbian who plays both masculine and feminine roles).


All the women featured speak openly and honestly about the social pressures they face not only as queer women, but as black queer women.

Black LGBT community faces a number of problems in society and within the LGBT scene. These included the overwhelmingly white nature of the ‘mainstream’ LGBT scene, racism both inside and outside the scene, and the difficulties of coming out to families, who generally perceived homosexuality as a ‘white’ issue.

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To watch the show click here

Black Community, Does My Black Trans Life Matter?

As we read about yet another young Black transwoman being killed in the united states, Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi decided to respond and posted the following powerful and heartfelt article in queerofgender.com, asking the Black community – Does My Black Trans Life Matter?

This article hits home, so please read.

Does My Black Trans Life Matter? An Open Letter to The Black Community: Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi

Dear Black Community,

It is with great sorrow that I write to you. Sorrow for my fallen brethren who you too now hold as martyrs in our war against the system of oppression called racism; sorrow for those unnamed cis sisters who never seem blessed enough to warrant your mobilized outrage over their murders; and sorrow for my trans sisters who never seem to warrant even a mention in some of your hashtag tweets.

For the past two weeks as we, the black community, have come together to march in outrage, riot in pain and protest in clarity, one trans woman for each week has been murdered. Killed with barely a mention and mourned only by their families and we sisters of the trans community. I have watched as we have come to our black community time and time again asking for justice for our sisters. I have been there as we have gnashed our teeth and pulled at our hair wondering why we don’t seem to warrant our black leaders standing in solidarity with us and proclaiming “There is a war on trans women of color’s lives”. We have been stunned as some demand we march and mobilize and stand in solidarity with the black movement while the black movement, telling us to “wait our turn”, continues to ignore our existence.

I get it: slavery has done a number on us. We have internalized the fear of extinction for our black men and so whenever one falls, we honor their godhood as if they were our only means of salvation. I know our collective trauma calls us to regard black manhood like a sacred jewel needing to be protected at all cost and fought for without cease. I see how countless black women train their daughters to worship their husbands and brothers without question while demanding they work, even if it meant their deaths, to feed and clothe said men. I have seen countless queens who bow to kings even when they were unworthy of such devotion and I have watched the coping mechanisms of slavery now become the broken chords leading us into fractions of self-hatred, following leaders whose thirst for money and fame causes them to lead us back into chains.

But I say the system wants us all dead; and the solution in beating the system does not lie in the silent compliance of my sisters and I within the movements that mainstream activist cyphers demand I should be a part of. No. Defeating the system lies in our continued fight for justice for all, which includes tearing down these white-washed walls of erasure. Many of these movements call for the solidarity of all black lives, while those within the movement ignore and sometimes promote the extinction of a part of said population: trans women.

I understand that my letter to some may seem as bringing separation when we need solidarity. But I say we cannot have solidarity unless all the pieces of the puzzle are honored equally. I get it: when the colonists came with their white baby jesus, whips, chains and brutality, they enslaved our ancestors, telling them if they forsake us then they will be one step closer to freedom. Some believed to survive they must throw trans-identified folks into the pit of erasure. I know that trans-attracted men are hated for loving us and thus they equip that hatred like a sword and attempt, like the historical white man, to extinguish the heart by extinguishing us. But know this: my understanding is not compliance, and my understanding is not a pass, and my understanding is not going to stop me from having, as my Sister Goddess Lourdes Ashley Hunter says, a Courageous Conversation.

Trans women are not killed by trans women, we are killed by cisgender men. Often cisgender black men. Is this why our black community is so afraid of having this conversation? Trans folk are the greatest embodied form of revolution against colonization. Our very existence spits in the face of all that colonization wishes our black community to hold true: is this why our black community is so afraid to have these conversations? Is it that the poison of colonization has seeped so deeply into the  veins of  the black movement that it is easier to ignore black trans folk and use them as place holders then to honor our existence? We must begin to honor not just our fallen  cis brothers but our fallen trans siblings and cis sisters. We must fight against the notion that we black women must ignore our brutalizers, although many of us are forced to co-exist with them. We demand our black men cultivate spaces that truly honor The Goddess that is black woman, not simply seeing her divinity as a lesser expression of his own and respect the spaces we have created whether they be our bodies, minds, souls or homes. We must face the hyper-masculinity that so many of our black men were forced to adopt and so many of us were forced to mistake as unapologetic expressions of manhood. It is time to look at our brothers and fathers and say solidarity is not a male privilege, but a form of action we should all be honored to receive.

So I leave you with this: It is not enough to weep, wail, protest, riot for and honor the lives of our black men; your women are here, we have bled, we have been beaten, we have been abused and we have been forgotten. Your trans sisters are here and it is not enough to keep us in the closet of your desires and in the misplaced notions of your pleasure. We too deserve love, honor, and remembrance and not just on TDOR. Stop killing us whether it is by erasure, allowance of violence against us,or actually tying the lynching noose around our necks and hanging us. Our spirits require outrage, mobilized movements and black support; for we are all black and if you say black lives matter and it doesn’t include us, then you too are simply doing the slave master’s work.

Written in Love, Clarity, and Oya’s Grace,


You can read more at queerofgender.com

Join UK’s LGF in Celebrating Black History Month – #BHMLGB

October is Black History Month in the UK. It’s a chance to learn about, raise awareness, and celebrate Black history, culture and heritage that is often unseen and unheard in society.

Throughout October, The LGF will be running a social media campaign to help raise awareness, and they want to know who has inspired you.

Nominations do not have to be celebrities or well known figures, they could be local heroes within your communities or even families.

To nominate some simply tweet a pics, videos and links to @lgfoundation, using #BHMLGB

HRC Renews Call for Stronger Efforts to Protect Transgender Women

In response to the violent attack of a 15-year old transgender teenager on the DC metro this week, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has renewed calls for stronger measures to protect transgender people – especially transgender women of color – from violence and harassment.

According to the reports, friends who were with the victim at the time, said she was approached by a stranger who ‘asked her why she was wearing a wig and insulted her appearance’ before attacking her with a knife. The victim – who has not been identified because she is minor – is in stable condition and the police have a suspect in custody.

“Attacking a child is always utterly reprehensible and our hearts and thoughts are with the victim and her family. This terrible incident fits within a broader trend of violence against transgender people and especially transgender women of color. While there are no easy answers on how to end this violence, that’s no excuse for inaction.

All of us must do more – from states and municipalities to LGBT organizations like HRC. We’re committed to reaching out to and working with leaders in the transgender community -inside and outside of HRC- to identify ways in which we can be a part of the solution.”

Fred Sainz, HRC’s Vice President of Communications

This attack comes in midst of a series of violent incidents against the transgender community – including the murder of six women of color just this year.

The 2011 report from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force on the experiences of transgender Americans found that nationally, black transgender and gender non-conforming people often live in extreme poverty, with 34% reporting a household income of less than $10,000/year, eight times the rate of the general U.S. population.

Transgender women of color face disproportionate levels in violence in comparison to other members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. According to a report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), 72 percent of LGBTQ homicide victims in 2013 were transgender women and 89 percent were people of color. Discrimination in employment, healthcare, and persistent racism can reinforce one another to place transgender people of color at greater risk for poverty and violence.

“Anti-bullying programs that address anti-LGBT and gender-based harassment and bullying will help to thwart this hostile, violent behavior. We would encourage educators, parents, counselors, community leaders to talk to young adults about respecting difference, about the “golden rule” and not to target people based on how they look or what they wear.”

Fred Sainz, HRC’s Vice President of Communications


Our Pick of Lesbian Film Classics

Stranger Inside (2001)

Not many mainstream movies produced by HBO and Michael Stipe give you the lowdown on lesbianism in female prisons in the US. Stranger Inside follows the journey of an imprisoned African-American woman who is looking for her real mother.

Do I Love You? (2002)

When it first came out Do I Love You? was the first British lesbian feature to be made for a decade. Lisa Gornick’s ‘thesis on love and labels’ was widely-loved and enjoyed by audiences all over the globe. Marina is around thirty and very confused about life and love – her story is told eloquently and incisively by this unique movie.

The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Some critics wondered whether this mainstream movie with bankable A-list stars signalled that Hollywood was about to embrace lesbianism fully. Things didn’t exactly turn out like that, but the film certainly made waves. Many loved it but others – both homosexual and homophobic – had criticisms about its portrayal of LGBT characters.

Tomboy (2011)

This classic of French dyke cinema was the brainchild of Celine Sciamma who also directed the successful Water Lillies (2007). The protagonist is 10 year old Laure, who wants to be Mikael. (S)he tries to come to terms with the feeling that she is a boy trapped inside the body of a girl, facing off prejudice and misunderstanding all the way.

Break My Fall (2011)

Part of the British new wave of realist queer cinema, Break My Fall is a painfully honest account of the complexities of an intense Sapphic relationship in contemporary East London. It was shot on 16mm by the Bafta-nominated auteur Kanchi Wichmann.

‘Masculine Women’ Debut Scoops Lambda Award

Descendants of Hagar, Nik Nicholson’s first book, has won the Lambda award for best debut novel. LGBT.

This work of historical fiction explores the issue of a woman coming to terms with her masculine nature. To research her book Nicholson interviewed a wide variety of women who identified themselves as ‘masculine’.

‘I didn’t want Linny to be a combination of all my assumptions about masculine women,’ said Nicholson during the Lambda ceremony. ‘I don’t know of any other book where such a process was used … I interviewed more than sixty women who I presumed were lesbians because I’d posted requests for interviews on lesbian sites, but surprisingly the majority were bisexual. This was a constant reminder that gender expression does not denote sexuality.’

Descendants of Hagar is set in Georgia in 1914 during the Black Codes era, when the oppression of African-American people was particularly severe. Madelyn “Linny” Remington is a tough black woman whose forefather was the strong-spirited slave Miemay. Trapped by the limitations of her race and gender, Linny makes a promise that gives her the freedom she desires but that also brings shame upon her family.

‘Difficult Love’ in South Africa – Photographer Zanele Muholi Captures These Stunning Images

Zanele Muholi is a visual activist and advocator of black lesbian visibility in South Africa. She awarded globally her work with the queer media and ongoing photographic portrait series of black lesbians.

“What does an African lesbian look like? Is there a lesbian aesthetic or do we express our gendered, racialised and classed selves [sic] in rich and diverse ways?”

Zanele Muholi

Combining her passion for art and her commitment to addressing social injustice, she tackles the subject of LGBTI rights across the world, focusing primarily on her home country in order to redefine the stereotypes associated with gender and sexuality.

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Homophobia in Black Culture: Is The Problem Really So Prevalent?

Homophobia in black communities is almost paradoxical in nature. On one hand, homophobia in black communities exists because homophobia is in almost every group and it’s nigh on impossible to work no matter the racial identities of said faction. But in the same vein it’s not ‘homophobia in black communities’ in terms of it being black communities’ faults. In fact, to call it a problem might be incorrect because it’s anecdotal, not statistical. It’s based on stereotypes and assumptions rather than facts and figures and so while it’s definitely there, homophobia in black cultures could very well be a sometimes viewed, rarely understood occurrence rather than a regular, widespread reality.

It’s best to segment homophobia in black culture in terms of geographical placement. Because geography matters as much as the racial identities of the alleged perpetrators themselves. Look at the homophobia from the countries of Africa and the problem is a serious one, just based on the laws, regulations and negative attitudes of the people and the governments. From the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill in Uganda that advocates the murder of LGBT identified people to the ‘corrective’ rapes committed against the women of Nigeria and plenty of other countries, you can understand why people rightfully say that the continent of Africa has a homophobia problem. But then you look at South Africa, with the country’s gay marriage laws (surprisingly, it’s legal there) and awful history of racism and the situation changes.

And then you move on to The Americas, where the black and Hispanic citizens of South America are surrounded by a bastion of queer right support. Argentina was the tenth country in the world to legalise gay marriage, Brazil with the largest Catholic population in the world made gay marriage legal just last year and Chile’s new president, Michelle Bachelet, is reportedly a supporter of same-gender matrimony too. In North America, meanwhile, the largely black countries of the Caribbean are only a few pips shy of Africa’s harshness with Jamaica being a prime example as it has regularly been reported on that gay men and women have been run out of their homes, stoned and beaten on account of a not so acceptable identity.

The U.S.A, whilst being part of North America, posses an altogether different set of problems because the black identities from populations all around the world meet in America with black people of African, Caribbean and South American heritage merging with America’s recent majority support for queer rights and gay marriage. So why does this happen in America but less so in Africa and other predominantly black locations? Like many issues pertaining to race, the answer is quite succinctly, ‘white people’.

The problem with pointing the finger at black communities and wrongly accusing them of ethnicity wide homophobia is that the homophobia that’s witnessed isn’t necessarily their fault. Unfortunately for the the countries mentioned (the majority of the countries in Africa, Jamaica etc.) not only were they squeezed by the harsh and controlling forearms of the British Empire, they also had the pleasure of being stuck with their sodomy laws and egregious views on homosexuality too. Many of these homophobic ideals stuck, just on account of having little else to compare it to. If your white racist leaders (which the British Empire were, sorry to break it to you hardcore anglophiles) were to tell you that ‘gay is bad’ then you don’t have a choice but to believe them because going against the homophobic grain could find yourself met with beatings or murder or lifelong servitude and slavery, which the locations had only just managed to escape from not long before.

Thanks to the British Empire’s long reach and the inability of the predominantly black inhabited countries to fight back, there was nothing to say or do and understandably, the freedom and independence of those countries was largely a more pressing concern than the unfortunate treatment of queer people. However, having said that, there is still a larger question of why in this day and age it’s still believed that a) it’s the fault of black communities and b) why people are busy fighting over themselves over the ‘who’ and ‘how’ of it all rather than just doing something about it. It’s also important to point out that the predominantly white (and widely racist) culture of Russia makes it an equally as hostile place to be queer as the African countries, clearly showing that homophobia does not care for the racial identity of the people that it so poisonously permeates.

So believed is it, that black people have become the scapegoat and the go to community to blame in the case of gay rights when something doesn’t go the LGBT community’s way. For example, when Proposition 8, the Californian amendment that would ban gay marriage (after previously making it legal) passed, poorly reported on statistics meant that it became widely believed that black people were to blame. It was easy to believe for some, who were already high off of the intoxicating stereotypical fumes that black people don’t like gay people (despite plenty of people being both black and gay – but more on that later) and as this article by Ta-Nehisi Coates explains, the statistics weren’t even right. Just 7 percent of votes for Prop 8 were filed by black voters and only 58 percent of the black people who voted, voted in favour of Prop 8 (granted any majority figure is awful, but the year was 2008, when support for gay marriage was inarguably less prevalent). That still led plenty to point some more appendages at black church attendance, suggesting that the homophobia in the black community is the fault of their religious leanings (they attend church more than any other ethnic group in the USA), despite, y’know, church-going black people voting in favour of Prop 8 less than any other church-going ethnic group.

While these perceptions of homophobia in black culture have been dismantled, critically, there’s one other place that hasn’t been looked at at all; those who are both black and gay. That is to say, where are they? Let’s not get the message mixed up here, I mean this in terms of representation because people have very real and valid reasons not to come out so we can never begrudge them that, but because of racism (again – it’s a recurring trend) there are few famous out people of colour (Wanda Sykes and Michael Sam are two of the most famous names) fictional black and gay characters just aren’t being shown.

According to a Gallup poll from May, 2014, 55% of Americans support gay marriage. But that figure didn’t get there by equal representation, it came there carried in the hands of traditionally attractive white people, of people who were stepping on the backs of black queers. People don’t think that black and gay people exist, which is exactly why people say things like ‘homophobia is black people’s fault’ with actual black and gay people themselves failing to recognise that you are capable of being both (with some black people actually saying that this is a reason why their sexuality wasn’t realised until later on in life).

If you don’t know that they’re there then how can you prove anything otherwise? If the only portrayals of blackness in relation to queerness are seen in terms of homophobic experiences (e.g Glee’s black Latina Santana Lopez and her disapproving Hispanic grandmother) then how can the myth be dispelled? And furthermore, how do we move on from perpetrating the myth at all?

These are very tricky questions to be answered and they are not ones that can be answered while racist notions continue to make them believable, because as rarely cited statistics shows, blackness in homophobia isn’t prevalent at all; each culture is just as homophobic as one another.

Out Olympian Nicola Adams Speaks About her Upbringing, Ambition and Sexuality

Nicola Adams is the first female boxer to win an Olympic gold medal and has received an MBE for her services to boxing, She is Great Britain’s most decorated boxer.

Last week she spoke to Marie Claire and opened up about her upbringing, ruthless ambition and sexuality.

“[One] label that has been attached to me is “bisexual”, although I would rather be just a person and not be categorised. …

I have never tried to hide my sexuality, but I have never spoken about it before in the press, either, because I didn’t want it to overshadow everything else. It is an important aspect of who I am, but it doesn’t define me.

I worried about how everyone would react, so I used to say I was single, rather than say I was with a girl. I felt like I was lying all the time. I didn’t like living like that so, in the end, I thought, ‘Well, this is who I am. It’s not as if I can stop it.’
Nicola Adams

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‘The most important thing is to be honest about yourself. Secrets weigh heavy and it’s when you try to keep everything to yourself that it becomes a burden. You waste energy agonising when you could be living your life and realising your dreams.’

Nicola Adams 

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Meet ‘Say My Name’, the Gay British Series Set in the Black Community

The ‘typical’, often seen queer characters in television in media are white. Propped up by Eurocentric (read: ‘white is right’) ideals, most shows are quick to acknowledge queer identities as diversity, whilst failing to recognise both black and queer identities in the same vein. And it is a problem because without representation people are neither understanding or empathetic of the lives of queer people of colour, especially those who live outside of rich suburbs, living in more typically urban areas instead. But they do exist and there are stories to be told. Grand, emotional, gritty and real stories that would pull at our heartstrings and captivate us in ways that the many instances of middle class white women in high flying jobs never could, because despite not being a very good representation of white queer ladies anyway, there’s an entire subset of queer people of colour being left out of the equation.

This is what Say My Name was created to fix. Based around the 2006 contemporary play of the same name, Say My Name was a “contemporary British gay love story set against a gritty grimy backdrop of ‘street’ reality” that has now been expanded into a full series. Say My Name (the short) originally rose to fame as it won the “Angry Now” competition at the Royal Court Theatre in London, leading many to take interest in the sort of story that frankly, had never been depicted in a good light (or at all) previously. From a play it evolved into a short film and was aired at plenty of film festivals worth their salt (including Outfest in Los Angeles) around the globe.

There are several episodes of Say My Name in the pipeline as the series follows characters Chris and Ricky through the “changing tides of this emotional rollercoaster”. Don’t expect it to be all post-Big Dipper types downs though, as promised scenes include meeting ex-girlfriends, parents and coming out, all of which are likely to create hilarity, elation and a few tears too once the series airs, so watch a preview below to find out more.

Say My Name!

ViaSay My Name.


A Sundance Contender, Dear White People

The title may have given this one away but Dear White People, a film from first-time director Justin Simien, serves up a sizzling hot slab of racial commentary and forces the audience to laugh and learn the whole way through.

Centred around four black students at Winchester University, a fictional Ivy League college, riots break out after a group of white students host a ‘black-themed’ party leading biracial film student Samantha White to voice her thoughts on a radio show which she has titled ‘Dear White People’. As Samantha discusses the micro-aggressions that frustrate her such as “Dear White People: Please stop touching my hair. Does this look like a petting zoo to you?” the audience – whether they’re people of colour or not – will recognise things from their day to day but presented in this way (Simien actually provided a ‘white people you have permission to laugh at this film’ disclaimer before screenings) it perhaps hammers home the point that racism, even the casual kind, is never ok.

While the subject matter is serious but the lines are funny, it’s the cast of Dear White People that helps to carry the film, even leading it to win the Breakthrough Talent Award at Sundance earlier this year. Amongst this talent is the slightly known actor Tyler James Williams from Everybody Hates Chris (Williams plays gay reporter Lionel in the film) and Teyonah Parris from Mad Men who plays Coco, both of whom are just two examples of a full cast that really showcases their acting chops.

“Justin Simien is a funny, fresh and current voice with his finger on the Millennials’ pulse. His crowd-pleasing ‘Dear White People’ took Sundance by storm, with its sly and extremely topical satire sparking conversations about our supposed ‘post-racial’, 21st century America.”

Howard Cohen, President Roadside Attractions

Dear White People Concept Trailer from Justin Simien on Vimeo. The racially-themed campus comedy is scheduled for a fall release.

Making Space For Queer People of Colour

The following post, part of HRC’s Black History Month series, comes from Joseph Ward:

“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”

– Audre Lorde

When I came out as a gay, Black, Latino, I didn’t fully know what that would mean. At the time, I was in an interracial binational relationship.

I could walk the streets of my East Harlem community with some general level of comfort because of my skin color. I could stroll through LGBT friendly neighborhoods with some level of security because of my orientation. But the moment my hands or lips would touch my partner’s, the attitudes of those around us would quickly change.

How can two gay men of different racial backgrounds be in a relationship? That’s often what I felt others implied with their confused or sometimes intimidating stares. No matter how subtle or obvious it was, I recognized early that my queer identity would always be uniquely influenced by my racial identity, and vice versa.

Yet as many queer people of color know, this can manifest in more dangerous ways.

Today, a lesbian woman will be discriminated against in a job interview because, though highly qualified, she wore a suit and tie and didn’t conform to gender stereotypes that were inauthentic to her truth. A transgender women of color, whose rich experiences could fill a novel, will try to have a conversation where she’s not being asked about the most personal and intimate details of her body—details others wouldn’t even think to ask a cisgender women. Today, millions of LGBT people across the world will wake up and watch their multiple identities collide, exposing them to unique experiences of racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, and biphobia that’s prevalent in our culture.

Throughout Black History Month, I’ve been reflecting on the importance of “intersectionality” in the LGBT justice movement. Intersectionality is a term used to describe the unique vulnerabilities LGBT people experience because of other parts of their identity including race, class or culture. Poet Audre Lorde and Civil Rights Activist Bayard Rustin, two visionary queer people of color, offered a powerful framework for this discussion.

“The barometer for social change is measured by selecting the group that is most mistreated,” Rustin often reminded us. The LGBT community is incredibly diverse and we are only as strong as our ablity to prioritize and elevate the needs of LGBT folks living at the margins.

“Any future vision which can encompass all of us, by definition, must be complex and expanding, not easy to achieve,” Lorde writes. As we look at the LGBT justice movement today, how are the diverse needs, faces, and experiences of our community showing up in our strategies, our funding priorities, and our leadership teams?

Making space for queer African Americans and other people of color in the LGBT justice movement is a powerful way to honor Black History Month. As Lorde and Rustin remind us, it deepens and broadens our collective power as a community, and truly creates a vision that can “encompass all of us.”

Prints by Olive Paperie

Dana Bly of Olive Paperie ditched her corporate job to start up her own design studio.

Here’s how Dana describes her passion project.

Known for her funky unconventional illustrations and graphic design, Dana has a deep passion for design and colours.  She is a self-taught designer who discovered her talent at a late age.  While working in the corporate world, she has designed on the side and knew that one day she would own her design studio.

She is still crafting her illustrations by hand skills and recently discover water colouring. If you follow Dana via social media, you will see a glimpse of her daily life that includes her daughter, photography, food and her current design projects. She is an avid prince worshipper and loves the colour green. Must love dogs.

Olive Paperie sells a diverse array of products includes prints, house decor, journals and calendars that feature women with diverse natural hairstyles.

Visit – http://www.olivepaperie.com/