A Black Stripe in a Rainbow Flag: Being Queer Doesn’t Absolve Racism.

This is the first article in the series 'A Black Stripe in a Rainbow Flag' by Travis Miller.

I consider myself very privileged to have grown up both queer and mixed race, as both have such unique voices, and so much progress to be made. Although I may not always see the Caribbean side of the family, I am proud to know where I come from and the history that goes with this. I am also exceptionally grateful for the love and support my (white) mother has shown me growing up, and accepting me for who I am. From a young age she has always done her best to educate me when it comes to race, gender, disability and the differences of the world. She wanted to make sure I got a head start in life when it came to acceptance.

Therefore, I find it extremely difficult to process the number of racist ordeals that occurred last summer, and that continue to plague our generation now. You’d think with all the technology we have and the research we’ve acquired from other lands, we would be more educated. Clearly, I am wrong.

Summer of 2020 was a massive eye opener for me. It really allowed me to see how much my head was in the clouds and how my own “white privilege”, kept me from realising the dangers my brothers and sisters were in. Following the death of George Floyd and seeing the world turn into a racial frenzy, I knew it was time to get educated, and I can honestly say I am ashamed of how little I knew. I highly recommend the book “Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race”- Reni Eddo-Lodge as this gave me a good ‘beginners edition to British racism’. From then the ball was rolling.

The one thing I don’t think I was fully prepared for was ‘the truth’. What everyone really thought of people like me.

The amount of people showing their “true” colours, was inescapable.

I’ve realised that humans don’t like change, especially if it doesn’t affect them, requires something from them, or having to realise that they are wrong.

Humans also don’t like being told “No”, it initiates a fight or flight mode in them, a defensiveness that shuts off all possible outcomes of listening, learning and being accountable for ones actions. If accountability feels like an attack, then you’re not ready to acknowledge how your behaviour harms others. That I believe, is just as dangerous as racism, because it is fueled by racism.

Being both mixed and queer, I fight a double battle. Racism and Homophobia, and if you were to ask me which I think is worse, I would say racism. As we understand there are many similarities that run between the two; (Oppression, freedom, basic human rights struggle, systemic abuse, murder), let’s not forget the racism that is also very rampant within the gay “Community”.

I use the word “Community” very loosely as after some of the unveilings of my fellow queer’s racist behaviour, I believe that no, we are not a community, but a group of humans lumped together that face oppression from straight people. That does not erase the fact that gays can still be racist.

I do, however, see there are many positive community vibes out there and I am by no means trying overshadowing them, because when we want to, or when we have to, we can come together to unite, and be a family but for some QPOC, it takes a lot longer for to feel comfortable in the community unless you look a certain way.

Throughout the summer I spent a long time self-reflecting, and learning about myself. Trying to change the parts of me that I didn’t like and praise the parts that I did. As a mental health sufferer, this sometimes really took its toll, and I would find myself spiralling for days over such small issues. One conversation I had with a former friend really sent me over the edge and made me realise, the problem I had wasn’t being gay, but the colour of my skin.

Being a QPOC tags you with certain stereotypes that not all QPOC fulfil. I think a big part of the problem stems from not being taught queer sex education in schools. This sets queer people up for failure the moment they step out of the closet, because what do we know? Nothing. So, any experiences or knowledge we gain in our knew found sexuality 9/10 times comes from first hand sexual experiences or porn, which in my eyes is where queer body dysmorphia is born.

Seeing the way QPOC are portrayed and stereotyped in porn, it's no wonder white gays don’t know how to treat us with normal human decency, rather than a piece of meat for their own sexual gain.

Being Black in the gay community is to be Muscular, masculine, “rough”, DL (Down Low), and of course BBC. But not all QPOC are built like that, we’re not trophies for you to collect or stories for you to brag to your friends about.

“Ooh I got fucked by a black guy on the weekend, his dick was so big.”

We are not your playthings to be used for racial disposal.

Another interesting take on this is when I look at some of the “Categories” that gays like to put themselves in to make it easier when deciding a sexual partner; Twink, Otter, Jock… I don’t feel like any of those reflect black people, when I talk to my black queer friends, I’ve never heard them refer to themselves using these terms, they are white American terms. Looking at things like porn, whenever there is a Twink in a scene, it’s usually a white person. This means QPOC are unwillingly subject to racial stereotypes. So when white gays say “I like black guys”, no you don’t, you like the black guy you’re conditioned to like by the media.

Or we could flip the coin on its head. If we’re not being fetishised for our colour, or being seen as “Exotic”, or someone’s fantasy, “ Lemme taste that chocolate”.

We get the complete opposite and are disregarded. This is called “racial preference”.

While most white gays will swear until they’re blue in the face that this isn’t racist.

Yes, it is.

Disregarding someone for the colour of their skin or their entire racial existence, is racism. This is emphasising the fact that you have decided that every single queer person of that race is “not your type” based on…their race. Obviously, unless they’re ripped.

“I’m not usually into Asians, but this one’s hot”, *insert picture of ripped Asian gay.* (Something I came across on Twitter).