This post was actually inspired by a badge I made from Bristol Pride this year which said ‘intersectionality matters’ and featured the Philadelphia Progressive Flag, which was made in 2017 to include QTPOC (which stands for Queer / Trans People Of Colour). Which got me thinking a lot about the concept of intersectionality and why it matters so much. I touched on it a bit where I gave my identity a interectional look, but I want to talk about it more generally – in addition, I also wrote about the history of the original pride flag, where I briefly mentioned the new flag and its creator Gilbert Baker.
But if you aren’t aware of the situation, in 2017, the city of Philadelphia learnt that the rainbow flag wasn’t as include everyone. So for the Pride, they added two (2) different colours – black and brown to existing flag to represent Queer and Trans people of colour. This obviously comes from a good place, because the more inclusive we can be, the better – right? Of course! But, unfortunately, this sparked controversy. This is because the flag has historically meant to represent the community as a whole, and those who have criticised Philly’s decision was unnecessary because the flag already represented unity. What’s even more ridiculous about this discussion surrounding the new flag is that some people had asked for a for a white stripe, because they thought that adding was disrespectful or even – and hear me out on this – racist for not including white people. Now, as a white person (who therefore benefits from white privilege), I have no problem with including these new colours, and I don’t think it’s racist to not include the colour white on the flag – and this is just another way that some white people believe that reverse racism is a thing (which it isn’t – and if you look at the context, it is ethnic minority groups that are discriminated against – not white people).
At first glance, fighting over what the flag should look like might seem like a ridiculous idea and seem like unnecessary thing to do. But here’s the problem – it represents a deeper divide within the community – because despite the LGBTQ+ communities fight for equality, POC have been left behind. This, as VICE magazine puts it, creates “the lack of intersectionality” within the community. What this means is that some LGBTQ+ individuals will fight for specific LGBTQ+ rights (e.g. same sex marriage), but may not do the same when it comes to other issues (e.g. the intersection between being a queer and a woman, or racism). Furthermore, one way that we can combat this issue by listening to QTPOC, as they may have first hand experience of this, and therefore have valuable knowledge and experience.
In addition, the Stonewall Riots, which was lead by two (2) trans women of colour, means that black (especially of colour) have, and to an extent continue to be, at the centre of the movement because of this intersection of racism, sexism, and transphobia. So I admit that I benefit from white privilege, and I know that being a white person is OK – and more importantly – grants me advantages within society. So therefore, it is crucial that a). that I (and any other white person), acknowledge this, b). speak out against all the discrimination that transfeminine people face, and c). raise up the voices of transfeminine people & share any work they do on social media.
In terms of protests however, I believe that not necessary to go to them, and that it doesn’t make you “any less of” an activist for not going to one. There are many different types of activism, and many activists may choose not to go to them for a number of valid reasons (e.g. inaccessibility, mental health, they are in a minority group). While I understand that going to protests is is an important way to make change, it doesn’t give you an excuse to “look down” on those individuals who can’t attend. Plus, like I mentioned, there are many different ways to be an activist – you could start writing a blog, make YouTube videos, or do art. By doing what you love as a form of activism, you are still contributing to the causes that you love and care about – and in my book, that makes you an activist. So if you are able to go to protests, then go ahead, but just be mindful of your privilege – and be sure to protest on behalf of those who can’t.
However, unfortunately, isn’t the only problem within the community. Judgement based on race, or body type, gender, or mannerisms – specifically with gay men, mean that any gay man that doesn’t fit the “ideal” gay man is somehow is less. This is especially prominent on dating apps such as Grindr and Tindr. As a result, this means that despite the fact that the LGBTQ+ community is a minority group, it still discriminates (eg. black people, fat people), which shows that they are still more than capable of discriminating against other people.
In conclusion, PLEASE make sure that your activism is intersectional, because it really does matter, as you may get valuable knowledge and experiences that aren’t yours – plus it’ll make you a better ally to minority groups that you may not be a part of. I’m proud to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community, I’m just trying to be more aware of the problems of the many problems the community has – and by being aware of these problems, I’ll become a better activist and ally to other groups. Finally, the more inclusive our activism is, the better it will be.