51 Percent of People of Color Experience Racism in LGBTQ Communities
A new Stonewall survey reveals that LGBTQ communities in Britain are not as welcoming and progressive as you might think.
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Half of LGBTQ people of color have experienced discrimination or poor treatment from others in their local LGBTQ community because of their ethnicity, according to a new survey looking at the experiences of lesbian, gay, bi, and trans people and their lives in Britain today.
The findings by LGBTQ charity Stonewall and YouGov found that almost 32 percent of LGBTQ people have experienced some form of discrimination or poor treatment from others in their local LGBTQ community. That number rises to 51 percent for those who are Black, Asian, or belong to another ethnic minority.
An additional three out of five Black LGBT people said that they had experienced prejudice on account of their ethnicity.
“In an LGBT bar, on more than one occasion, drunk people have come over to pet my hair and ask inappropriate questions regarding my race,” one Scottish respondent, Abebi, told Stonewall.
Another respondent, Lara, said that Pride events did not welcome people of color. “Last year at Pride some guy bumped into me by accident and when he realized I was black, he said ‘ew’ and wiped his arm off in front of me,” they said. “I don’t go out as often anymore because of this.”
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Other respondents pointed to how her own LGBTQ community failed to adopt an intersectional approach when it came to her identity.
“Remember that it’s not just white cis abled people who are LGBT+,” Asha, a 21-year-old from the North West of England, said. “I am an Arab, ex Muslim, autistic, mentally ill, poor brown girl who is also bi. No LGBT+ supports me or accommodates, I am invisible to you.”
A significant proportion of transgender and bisexual people also faced prejudice within their LGBTQ community. Thirty-six percent of trans people said that they experienced discrimination and poor treatment from their LGBTQ peers, with one respondent commenting: “I have been groped in bars because people wanted to ‘see if I had the parts’. This makes me feel unsafe and I don’t enjoy going out.”
More than one in four bi women and almost one in five bi men said they had experienced prejudice in their community because of their sexual orientation. “I am being treated as though I’m faking it because I’m bisexual but currently with a partner of the opposite sex,” Jordan, 27, said.
Stonewall chief executive Ruth Hunt described the findings as a “wake-up call.”
“It’s unacceptable and inexcusable that such discrimination exists in a community so often celebrated—not least by itself—for its diversity and tolerance,” she said in the report.
Sanjay Sood-Smith, Stonewall’s director of empowerment programs, told Broadly that the report showed that the LGBTQ community was not as progressive as commonly assumed. “People sometimes think that as part of a group that has been oppressed or faced prejudice, people might be more accepting and less likely to be prejudiced against other groups. Unfortunately, as our report shows, that isn’t the case.”
Sood-Smith added that the findings of the report chimed with his own experiences of dating within the LGBTQ community, especially when speaking to people in bars. “I’m half Indian and gay,” he explained. “Because I don’t look very Indian, as soon as people find out my name is Sanjay, they’ve not been interested. On dating apps, there are also a lot of people who are actively racist on their profiles. People explicitly write ‘no Blacks, no Asians’ on their profiles and actively block people who are of a minority ethnic background.”
He believes that the solution is two-fold. “People need to be made aware of the fact that discrimination exists and organizations need to have explicit policies around addressing that discrimination. We also need to see greater representation of BAME [black, Asian, and ethnic minority] people in both organizations and positions of power so that their views and thoughts are represented in society.”