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Exclusivity of Black Queer and Two-Spirit Members in Pride


Think about Pride for a second, and what it means to you.


Whether it’s the month or the parade, we all have different indexical images of Pride. Pride should conjure positive feelings, but for some it’s inherently the opposite. Pride is an annual event held in June, celebrating the diversity of the LGBTQ2IA+ community while advocating for queer voices. However, in doing so Pride shuts out particular influences such as Black and Two-spirit voices which monopolizes the ‘inclusive’ and ‘diverse’ event. These shunned communities face consequences, as a community they belong to is now actively participating in colonial practice. Black queer women experience the most hierarchical oppression, so what can institutions such as Pride do to combat the exoneration of events that were once made for the silenced?



During the gay rights movement people of colour were forerunners. Today, they are denied benefits of the rebellion they once ignited.

Minorities are at the bottom in subgroups like the queer community, and absent representation can be detrimental. Choosing to come out is a luxury many people of colour do not have, being fearful of discrimination from two angles (Young 31). Black queer families have an additional layer to unearth that White families will never understand, which is why Pride should continue to be a protest against the inequities that exist for several of its members rather than pure celebration. The gay White man has slowly become a trademark for Pride, forcing Black and Two-Spirit subjects to feel like outsiders in their own community, while facing discrimination from those who are also societally marginalized. During the celebration, Pride forgets that not all its members are okay having their sexual orientation be public knowledge. “Coming out as a Black queer youth in the city was about surviving and creating an identity because you’re dealing with two folds: racism and sexual identity” (Haritawron 68). If the only community willing to accept them does not vouch for them, any sense of belonging is completely lost.



Marginalized groups such as Black and Two-Spirit people already carry generational trauma from slavery and residential schools. It will never subside, and the exclusion felt from lesser subdivisions will only continue said trauma. Lacking a sense of belonging is associated with anxiety, depression, and suicide which can cause certain social behaviours, making it difficult to connect with others (Greensmith and Giwa 133). In order for Pride Toronto to be as inclusive as it advertises, it must cater to all its members which includes the Two-Spirit community as they are commonly misunderstood due to their lack of representation in the queer community.



Many Indigenous peoples have experienced bigotry at Pride events, discouraging them from participating in any similar events. The hypersexuality of the White gay man has affected Pride through homonationalism as it shapes Pride into an event which you should only advocate for groups you identify with. Members of Pride Toronto need to be reminded that although everyone present may share something in common, all battles are different (Haritaworn 69). Black gay men are more at risk for HIV, and are disproportionately affected in the US. HIV-related stigma and homophobia within the larger context of racism were related to hesitancy obtaining HIV testing and/or care. Black families, church communities, and friends within the community often practice homophobia and encourage HIV-related stigma which contribute to vulnerability to HIV (Arnold, Rebchook & Kegeles 2014).



As Pride is teetering between heteronormativity and homonormativity, what does this mean specifically for Black queer women? Black queer women are ostracized in every way possible. Black feminism was a development that shouldn’t have been necessary, but it’s more proof that even in groups of similarity–differences are found. Black women are not seen solely as women because the first thing anyone will see is their blackness. It seems if you have another direct barrier to privilege, you cannot belong to a second group which Black feminism proves. To White women, their femininity is what holds them back, but for Black women it is race and femininity. Because of this, a connection is lost as bonding cannot occur over the same subjects to the level they wish. Sexism to Black women will never be as grotesque as racism (Scorsone 193). Facing disrespect from Black men, White women and the heteronormative queer community, Black queer women are the most vulnerable to insolence and losing their sense of self expression.



With much at stake for Black and Two-Spirit people in the queer community, there can be light at the end of the tunnel. The first step to reconciliation is distinguishing the white-settler colonialism that does exist among these minority factions. Support services to strengthen the Indigenous community need to be more readily available to anyone who may seek it. The non-Indigenous queers have to address their privilege and take responsibility for making the LGBT2QIA+ community more inclusive.

Too often we put the attention on the marginalized group to mend issues themselves rather than the privileged engaging with how they aid in heteronormativity. There is no longer a place for guilt in ancestral discrimination because it forces the minority group to coddle and apologize while they are in no position to do so. Rather than ignoring anything you see regarding Indigenous decolonization, willingly engross yourself in the conversation. Understand the repercussions felt by the Indigenous and Black community from settler-colonial dominance in Canada (Greensmith and Giwa 144). There’s no way history can be erased, but there is a way to make sure it does not repeat.


Being part of one minority group does not exclude you from being prejudiced against another. With the human race’s reputation for blatant discrimination, our only hope is for history to be history. Amidst all the inequities that exist within marginalized communities, you wonder how dominant communities will ever see others as equal. Large institutions such as Pride distort or ignore Black and Two-Spirit queers, which can have detrimental outcomes for generations. Celebratory organizations have the power to be a helping hand towards those who have felt monopolized from multiple angles, and there are solutions to the injustice being currently displayed. With the progress made, there is absolutely no reason intolerance has to be permanent.


References:

  1. Greensmith, Giwa. “Challenging Settler Colonialism in Contemporary Queer Politics: Settler Homonationalism, Pride Toronto, and Two-Spirit Subjectivities.” American Indian Culture and Research Journal, vol. 37, no. 2, University of California, Los Angeles, American Indian Studies Center, Jan. 2013, pp. 129–48, doi:10.17953/aicr.37.2.p4q2r84l12735117.

  2. Haritaworn, Jinthana. Queering Urban Justice: Queer of Colour Formations in Toronto. University of Toronto Press, 2018.

  3. Kliger, Isabelle. Drag Race Stars Get Political: 'People Were like, You Queens Should Stick to Wigs and Makeup'. 28 Oct. 2020, www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2020/oct/28/for-queer-individuals-this-is-life-or-death-the-drag-race-stars-getting-political.

  4. Scorsone, Kristyn. "Invisible Pathways: Public History By Queer Black Women In Newark." The Public Historian, vol. 41 no. 2, 2019, p. 190-217. Project MUSE muse.jhu.edu/article/737469.

  5. Young, T. Black Queer Ethics, Family, and Philosophical Imagination. In Black Queer Ethics, Family, and Philosophical Imagination. New York: Palgrave Macmillan US. 2016. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-58499-1

  6. https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=are+gay+people+of+colour+at+risk+for+sexual+illness+more&btnG=


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