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I recently read two posts on LGBTQI people of colour that made me take a step back and think hard.

@ Creating Change ’09: Embracing Two Spirit Traditions by Miriam at Feministing

It is amazing the parts of our cultures that have been robbed from us by colonialism. There are many examples from history of this type of gender variance in other cultures–primarily indigenous communities. What is so difficult is that these oppressions, gender oppression, heteronormativity, have been forced on us by our colonial history. And now, gender non-conformity, queerness, is seen as a “white” thing. It’s seen as a “white” movement, and there is resistance among some communities of color to these supposedly new movements of gender liberation and sexual openness. We’ve so internalized the oppression of colonialism and now we are using it on each other.

Why Some Black GLBT Peeps Hate the ‘Q’ Word by Monica at TransGriot

While there are some people who refer to the GLBT community as the ‘queer’ community, as you probably noticed as you peruse this blog I’m not one of them. It’s also a sentiment shared by some of my fellow GLBT African-Americans.

I had never thought of this before. Not a part of my experience, obviously.

I knew that LGBTQI identities and POC identities are often considered mutually exclusive. Wasn’t that highlighted perfectly with the backlash against the black community following the passing of Proposition 8? I knew that there’s an idea that “minority communities” are often homophobic – although you’ve got to ask yourself how much this perception is shaped by the invisibile centring of white people, who aren’t collectively immune to homophobia themselves (or transphobia, or…). (See Homophobia, racism, and queer people of color by sbkang, especially the seventh paragraph, at Racialicious.) It did not cross my mind for one second that queerness might be seen as a white construct or being under white ownership. The thought had not entered my mind that colonialism and racism might mean that people would be forced away from their sexual identities. Now, I thought about multiple oppressions and how they can tear you apart. Imagine overcoming the obstacles to discovering your identity only to-

This thought made me feel physically ill.

I stopped using the word “queer” as a catch-all for all cultural contexts. Nothing wrong with an acronym, even if this one isn’t as inclusive as it could be. I wish there was an acronym or a word that included all people who don’t fit the white, heterosexual and cisgendered paradigm, like Two Spirit people.

I thought about what else I could do. Nothing different, nothing special in addition to what I was already doing, I suppose. I try to listen to many voices and take on what I need to take on to try and mitigate my privilege and help heal the world. I couldn’t offer any scathing analysis, because what do I know in this matter apart from my own experience?

What I can do is pass on others’ voices. I worry that this isn’t sufficient enough to be engagement, but I’m at the be quiet and listen stage with this intersection and when you’ve got nothing to add, you’ve got nothing to add. So please follow the links and if you’re LGBTQI and of colour, or you’ve got something to add, please write your piece.