Queer racism? What do you think?
Feature
Posted on 25 Jan 2019

The casual racism of a comfortable majority?

Rico Johnson-Sinclair considers the furore over the proposed inclusion of the colours black and brown to the rainbow flag. This has been recently stoked by a promotional poster from a Manchester-based drag queen which depicted a unicorn vomiting the black and brown stripes.

Here Rico gives us his thoughts on the matter...

‘What about me?’ scream the most represented people in our community

Over the past few weeks, there’s been a kind of mutiny within the LGBTQIA+ community. Careers have been put on ice, racist remarks have been launched into the black hole that is becoming social media in the 21st century. So how did this all begin? With two stripes introduced to the symbol of our community.

Firstly, let it be known that the addition of the black and brown stripes is not a new thing, neither is it a new debate being had. The black and brown stripes were first introduced by Philadelphia in 2017 for pride month as an acknowledgment of the hardships faced by QTIPOC (Queer and Trans People of Colour) in the LGBTQIA+ community.

Launched on the 8th of June, the new flag was met with indignation and vitriol both locally and internationally when it practically broke the queer internet. QTIPOC mostly rejoiced at the recognition; the feeling that for the first time since most of us had our rebirths into the big queer sphere, we were seen. But the voices of dissent were all too loud.

It’s impossible to disregard the ignorance of those unaffected by the issues that the stripes were added to combat, and this is evident from their lack of knowledge that this addition predates Manchester Pride’s choice to adopt these changes

And I have to say, I’ve grown used to the casual racism and discriminatory attitudes towards black and brown people in the community, so whilst the casually racist poster of the unicorn vomiting the black and brown stripes at the bottom of a sign emblazoned with taste the rainbow hurt my feelings, it was because man invented graphic designs for a reason and there is no excuse for such poor promotional materials.

It’s no big secret that the ones with the most privilege are often unable to relate to the most underrepresented and marginalised. I’m pretty sure there’s a word for it.

 It is here I must offer my praises to Manchester Pride for sticking to their guns, despite the fierce backlash that would follow. And then to our very own Birmingham Pride for the acknowledgement that whilst this was a difficult road to take, it would be one of progress, and of acceptance, the very narrative that our community (sometimes falsely) seems to favour.

The fact that there’s all this debate around the changes means that the changes are in fact working. Whilst I believe the changes should be temporary (as temporary as the racism in the community should be) more people than ever are engaging in a dialogue about racism in the community, this gives QTIPOC a platform to express our issues.

A large percentage of the people that are actively rejecting the change are cisgender white gay men and women that have put more effort into refusing the new flag in the last month than they ever have to try to dismantle the racism in the community while preaching unity and that love is love. These are probably the same people who think that being called a social justice warrior is a bad thing, and temporarily forget that enough snowflakes can cause an avalanche.

Just last week I visited a Facebook post by LGBT Manchester where a white gay man said there’s no racism in the community while telling a brown person to go and climb a tree, insinuating that he was a monkey. In that same post, dozens of people stopped by to comment about how racism doesn’t exist and that black and brown people are misinformed about their own experiences.

I first went to the gay scene when I was very young. I was homeless at the time and had no support network. I was dismissed from the one place I thought I’d be accepted, because I am black, and nothing more. So arguments about the LGBT community being inclusive fall on deaf ears with me, I know my own history too well.

Whilst most discuss the obvious; sexual preferences which are inherently racist and the festishization of people of colour which is equally as racist, what’s rarely discussed is casual racism, the instant distrust towards people of colour in nightclubs, whether with drinks or money, I’ve seen my fair share of instances where people will move away from people of colour if they have money in their hand towards a group of straight men dancing with their girlfriends, ironically.

I’ve also been stripsearched on two occasions on the gay scene because ‘I looked like someone else that was black’ who had a history of selling drugs on the scene. We haven’t come far from the era of signs outside bars , "No Blacks, Fems, or Faggots," it’s just morphed to ‘No Blacks, No Spice, No Rice” on a plethora of grindr profiles.

Just as LGBTQ+ people won their rights by rioting, it requires invasive action to facilitate change.

Please let us know what you think below.

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