Whistleblower and digital activist Shahmir Sanni launches his column: RACE AND REBELLION
Racism is your problem, not ours.
Over the last
With the popularity of shows like Pose on FX and Queer Eye, films like Moonlight and artists like Frank Ocean, pop culture is undergoing a shift to platforming not just queer folk, but also queer people of colour. But my experience as a gay man of colour in the UK has taught me many unfortunate things about our community and so-called ‘acceptance’ of our lifestyles.
On the other side, there are too many queer people of colour caving-in to the almost inescapable solitude of whitening-up, only to find out that their assimilation was rejected at birth. As a result, the mental health of LGBTQ people of colour continues to deteriorate.
No Safety Net
Gay men of
White gay men must do better if we as a community are supposed to survive in the time of populism characterised by Trump and Brexit.
It is still difficult for us to find work. It is still difficult for us to attain good salaries. And it is still difficult for us to avoid racial violence.
Within gay circles, we are desperately seeking
The trauma that we face as children and young men too often leads us to a wayward spiral of torn relationships, dishonest encounters and bad sex.
Queer Men of Colour
Social media and hook-up apps have driven us to a dangerous position within the LGBTQ community. We sit in tears when we see the man we
This debilitating need for validation is driving us as queer men of
colourinto the ground.
We men of
All these burdens mean we have built mechanisms to protect ourselves.
We stop ourselves from appearing too feminine and remain afraid to smile if our teeth aren’t perfect. We puff up our chests when we meet new men and we resort to patriarchal behavior to make sure we appear as attractive as possible. We post gym selfies on Instagram to stir the interest of that guy we
Constantly, we are afraid to show all of who we are, in case anyone finds us unattractive. This debilitating need for validation is driving us as queer men of
Gay White Men
White gay men would argue that they deal with these same issues. They do. But to nowhere near the same extent. Gay men of colour have to deal with these problems under the debilitating weight of racism. Ask any black or brown man what they think of the LGBTQ community and most will say it is exhausting. It is a struggle outside of it, and it is an even more complicated struggle within it. The pain of having to navigate through a white community is shared among all people of colour.
I can’t blame my black friends for just giving up and caving into men who want their ‘BBC’, or brown friends who will have sex with any white man that gives them attention because they remind them of an exotic macaw.
White gay men don’t have to constantly worry about whether the person who is flirting, dating, or even married to them is only doing so because the idea of being with someone of their ethnic background is enticing or exotic. You, white gay men, do not have to constantly deal with comments like ‘You’re small for a Nigerian’ or ‘You’re too cute to be Indian’. Your skin colour does not determine the perceived size of your penis. You are seen as individuals, and spoken to without any perceived notions or bias pertaining to your skin colour. You are the supposed ‘norm’. You are allowed to be three-dimensional without your interests or personality traits being viewed as expected or unexpected.
While white gay men also seek a problematic level of validation, gay men of colour seek validation not just to be seen as attractive but to also be perceived as more than just our skin colour and ethnicity.
It is the fault of a lack of understanding about how racism and white supremacy work. I can’t blame my black friends for just giving up and caving into men who want their ‘BBC
Head above Parapet
It’s hard to see above the parapet when in reality your head is being drowned under it. It is hard to say ‘OK let me change the way I look at everything and deal with the excruciating trauma just to be better in the long run’. It’s fucking hard. Fetishization is not validation, it is the reduction of our bodies to being just objects built for the sexual satisfaction of white men. This needs to change – and it starts from within the white gay community.
White gay men must do better if we as a community are supposed to survive in the time of populism characterised by Trump and Brexit. The LGBTQ community has always relied on unapologetic activism and deconstruction of the status quo. White gay men: you are the status quo. So you must make a decision. Do you want to be part of the LGBTQ community and continue deconstructing oppressive systems? Or do you want to be excluded in order for us, as queer people of colour and trans folk, to retain our safe spaces? My sincere hope is that you will choose the former.
Fight the oppression by educating yourself and those around you about our struggles and fears. When you see someone fetishizing black men, call them out. When you hear someone saying they don’t like Asian boys, explain how it is racist.
Allyship involves all of us doing the utmost to ensure queer people of colour don’t have to constantly battle depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and self-hate because of the structures you perpetuate or uphold.