I am intersectional: Black Pride honours the voices of those who do not live uninhibited. Just being LGBTQ+ and having Black Pride challenges unjust systems cross-culturally and systemically. Intersectionality is beauty, but beauty is brutal. And, intersectional demographics are still disproportionately affected by violence and discrimination. I discovered that intersectionality is feeling proud, yet lost and uncertain too. I’ve experienced social acceptance and praise for my performing castability, colloquialisms, whiteness and blackness … but also shame and hesitancy due to my light-skinned privilege. Now more than ever has it been fundamental to find love, support, and community. I’ve flipped back a few years to see what I have constituted as pride and why sometimes my pride was shy.
As Masha P. Johnson coined it, “No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us”. Pride initiated as riots: Stonewall Riots 1969. Black Pride serves to uplift marginalised voices. People in these intersectional groups do not live uninhibited and therefore their voices need honouring. Black Pride honours all and doesn’t intermediately wear our rainbow for a stamp of approval only in June. That is what makes it beautiful and why I fell in love with how inclusivity straight-up denotes positivity. #FACTS. The pioneers of pride, who were subject to mass discrimination, played massive roles in liberating all LGBTQ+ people through a rebellious uprising. We remember them — Black people gave us pride — so again, there is a story of sacrifice. One that I am proud of.
Expressing myself, living in London, hasn’t always been easy. Expressing my queerness came naturally, with the acceptance of my family, but it also took courage when pushing boundaries of my identity. However, it was expressing my Caribbean heritage that was difficult; chiefly for cautious reasons and knowing the sensitivities around appropriation… Although, that didn’t make sense because I grew up with the Caribbean side of my family.
“How can you say it with your chest, yet be afraid to appropriate culture embedded in your own heritage, because of the melanin in your skin?”
I’ve taken from my poem, ‘Light-Skinned Privilege’, which briefs on how intersectionality is both beautiful and brutal. Last year, the violence that people of colour endure was broadcasted globally. This resulted in the largest protest and uprising in history. It also prompted my writing and activism. Yet still, I was told that I’m “jumping on bandwagons” … despite being part of the community. However, this allowed me to establish my voice and redefine a narrative that was so wordlessly disposed of me — wotless boy. It’s difficult to understand, wherein a community that is marginalised, validation is separate from acceptance. Although intersectionality is lonely, the creative ambiguities are perpetual.
I know I’m not alone in being fed up with homonormative Pride campaigns. Especially ones that are solely based on LGBTQ+ trauma. Sadly, we live in a society that thinks progression is harnessing everything that marginalises you as a kickstart for empathy applications. I’ve been told countless times to “use what you have to your advantage” — ticking boxes to be tokenised within companies. So, to combat this, I’ve come up with 5 reasons why intersectional LGBTQ+ POC representation is fundamental:
- Representation has a great influence on audiences, mass relatability, content that holds such breadth and power, pain and sustainability — This representation is hard to get, systemically concreted 5 steps behind, but this will positively affect their life experiences.
- Media: LGBTQ+ exposure in media can affect how communities view the LGBTQ+ community. Media representation has a positive effect on members of the LGBTQ+ community, especially LGBTQ+ youth. As representation grows and relies less on stereotypes, audiences’ prejudices can fall away easily and serves to undeniably stimulate all viewers.
- Policy: Positive Representation = Policy Change
- Positive intersectional representation is not a fallacy. Further, it is not an opposed dichotomy either — intersectionality works together to reinforce collaborative duality and change.
- A different perspective that, is usually not shown in the western media, helps to deconstruct eurocentrism and depicts minority groups in a positive light — which is valid.
My background in Musical Theatre and Aerial skills was problematic, however, this shaped who I am today. Throughout my training, I experienced questionable praise due to my castability. I was told I could play anybody and that my mixed heritage made me desirable for agents. Whilst I was happy to hear this, my peers were overlooked for being “too dark”, “overweight”, “a mover, not a dancer” etc. All of this from predominantly white male tutors. I was told to look for “terrorist” roles and that I can’t play a “straight” character. I said to myself, “Who gave you the agency to dictate what roles I can and cannot audition for as an actor?” — Secondly, I mentioned:
[choosing to camp up a character, playing to my strengths, to avoid a low grade, is a beneficial decision. My creative choices aren’t for others to manage. Granted, tutors can assess and grade accordingly — but my creative lead as a performer shouldn’t be militarised by your standards]
I aim to find belonging in the non-belonging through a myriad of creative content. Ultimately I shouldn’t be afraid that I am appropriating culture as this is my culture and I’m not profiting anything. Having pride constitutes many facets: culture, identity, heritage, sexuality etc. You should never be ashamed of who you are.
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