My talk from the Bi Inclusion panel on 25th September 2014
I’ve tried to remember what I said, so forgive me for anything I missed out.
I’m going to talk about bisexuality, ethnicity, and faith.
I’d like to start off by asking three questions:
Can you be a Person of Colour (PoC) and bisexual?
Can you follow a religion or hold a faith and be bisexual?
Do bisexuals really exist?
Well the answer to all three questions is: yes, yes, and HELL YEAH!
Faith and religion has often been used as a stick to beat people with, but it has also been used as a source of hope for oppressed communities for a very long time. My faith doesn’t mean I go to church on Sunday, stand when I’m told, sit when I’m told, and then go home. It gives me hope when I face multiple discrimination and bigotry on an almost daily basis.
However, I’ve encountered assumptions held by white LGBT people, who say that all religious folks hate them, and all PoC hate them too, so they feel justified to hate us back in return. When you’re a black person who holds a belief, that’s an awful lot of hate to deal with. I’ve also seen many articles, and heard comments made that faith groups need to be more accepting to LGBT people (which assumes that no religious people are LGBT ). I’ve only encountered two people who have asked how can LGBT communities be more accepting of religious people and people of colour. When I’ve pointed this out in the past, I’ve been met with the same tired variant of: “I can’t be racist; I’m gay!” I’ve also experienced mocking, erasure and ignorance as a result of this. (sounds familiar?)
I’ve experienced biphobia and racism in most LGBT spaces I’ve attended. Many organisations will happily put LGBT on their funding applications, on their headed paper and above the doors to their offices, but in my experience, the reality is that they are LGGGGG…GGG, very white, and not welcoming at all to bi’s and PoC. There is an awful lot of racism in LGBT communities: Islamaphobia is especially bad too, and used as a way to be racist towards PoC.
I’ve experienced racism and biphobia at Pride events, being called a “Breeder” which is a racially loaded term, and a very hurtful one as well. I’ve also been spat on at Brighton Pride by a white gay man who was marching in the parade. No one should have to experience that kind of violation, especially not at a Pride event. It is something that still makes me nervous when I attending other events.
I am black, Christian, and I am bisexual. These aren’t just parts of me; they are me. I cannot stop being these things. And the only time I’ll stop is when I’m dead. I want to be here. I want to go on.
I will now end with a little poem:
Just like sleeping with your tampon in
being bisexual is not a sin.
And I don’t always shout it out loud,
but I do like to be out and proud.
It’s hard though, especially when some people insist
that bisexuality just doesn’t exist:
that I’m trying to be trendy,
or playing it safe.
Inviting gays and straights to spit in my face,
or completely ignore everything I say;
go back in another closet, and pretend that I’m gay.
So I’ll tell you all without being too intellectual:
I’m Jacq: black, happy, bisexual!
A few U.K & Online resources for LGBT PoC who are religious (the level of bi-awareness varies):
Sarbat (Sikhism) http://www.sarbat.net/
Imaan (Islam) http://www.imaan.org.uk/
Rainbow Jews (Judiasm) http://www.rainbowjews.com/
Gay and Bisexual Men’s Buddhist group http://www.meetup.com/Buddhist-Meditation-for-Gay-and-Bisexual-Men/
Vaishnava (Hinduism) http://www.galva108.org/#!about-galva-108/c24vq
Various LGBT Christian groups http://two23.net/resources/other-helpful-groups/