Intersectionality is an in-demand buzzword as of late and for good reason. The term refers to how different forms of discrimination can interact and overlap within minority communities.
When we see intersectionality in action, we also see why it is necessary for each minority community to take into account the needs of other minorities if they truly want to see equality thrive.
For instance - the LGBTQ community. We are a diverse bunch. However, several minority groups within the community feel as though they are not being heard.
Each one of us who refers to themselves as LGBTQ knows exactly how it feels to be treated differently due to our sexuality or gender identity in some form. We’ve all been there. That’s why it’s especially remarkable that we are not more aligned with our rainbow flag bearing brothers and sisters of every race, creed, ethnicity, and more.
We know what’s happening in Washington, and it’s not pretty. It affects you and me, whether we pay attention to it or not.
If we want to see our community efficiently combat the discriminatory legislation being hurled our way from the state and federal levels, we must have a conversation on intersectionality in our own city and how we can begin at a local level to create change and unity.
29 year old actor, playwright, and teaching artist Patrick Johnson is a black, gay man, currently residing in St. Petersburg.
When asked about racism in the LGBTQ community, Johnson says “I think it's as simple as the micro-aggressive things I experience. Seeing posters for gay events at popular well known establishments that don't cater to people of color. Marketing will have no piece of ethnic representation.”
“I feel like an afterthought, someone who is tolerated because I am there, not because I am a customer or a person within the community,” says Johnson
Sheree Greer is a 37 year old writer, St. Petersburg College faculty member, Director of the Kitchen Table Literary Arts Center, and a black lesbian.
Greer says “I’ve visited some clubs and bars that were less than welcoming but most pointedly, because LGBTQ+ individuals have a certain level of understanding of oppression, there is sometimes a false camaraderie that white LGBTQ+ individuals use to say really disparaging and racist remarks about people of color, sometimes going so far as violating our personal space with aggressive touching of our hair and bodies.”
With regard to sexism within the LGBTQ community, Greer says “patriarchy is real regardless of sexuality. The ways in which men are promoted, paid more, etc., particularly if that man is viewed as heteronormative or performing as heteronormative, illustrates a position of privilege over women and those who identify as women in general.”
Princeton alumni and 46 year old Orlando entertainer, Maia Monet, is transgender and reportedly faces transphobia and sexism daily. Monet says most of the transphobia she faces comes directly from the LGBTQ community.
“I’ve been single for years. There’s a part of me that wonders how much of that is due to trans-phobia in my own community.”
When asked about sexism, Monet responded with “let’s just say there have been times that I have been part of organizations where I have been made to feel that my opinion carried less weight than the opinions of the gay men around me.”
To create and participate in a nuanced movement serving to improve all lives, we must discuss the ways race, sexuality, and all other facets of identity intersect. If our mission is to accelerate acceptance, we must always bear in mind that individual’s realities are shaped by the interplay of these identities
So how can we improve as a community to solidify our movement and the movement of others? Patrick Johnson says “In my opinion, I don't believe we will ever be unified until there is a conscious shift in the community at large.”
“To succeed, we have to have events that are truly inclusive and not catering to the white male gay population, I want to see people of color on the flyers, I want to see events where queer men and women and everything on the spectrum can come socialize and enjoy a nightlife event.”
Maia Monet says, “when I see trans people and our concerns being given a seat at the table of local organizations, when our central contributions to the gay rights movement are being actively acknowledged at Prides around the country, when I can stop justifying my existence to LGBTQ people and needing to answer basic questions about who and what transgender people are, then I think that would be a success.”
And Sheree Greer says in order for solidarity to begin making headway, there needs to be “more visibility and voice for those who need it most, then all of us fighting for each other. All of us showing up for each other. Period.”