This Facebook group is a Reparations and Mutual Aid for Marginalised Genders who are Indigenous, Black or People of Colour, as well being over 45 years old. It’s the only one of it’s kind that I’ve heard of. Usually Old=white, and BIPOC=young. It’s beyond relief that the two parts can come together for once!
There are a few support initiatives for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (but very little in the U.K). There is more support for Older white people in the U.K. But I can only think of one other place that says they support Older people who are BIPOC folks and Queer (Opening Doors LGBT). They are not a Mutual Aid organisation. However, the two times I attended their group aimed at Older Black Queer people, I was subject to A LOT of Biphobia. The moderators of the group did nothing in both cases. Older Black and bisexual people exist at the axis of many different oppressions. We shouldn’t have to face even more when we are trying to access support.
P.S – I’ve also attended Opening Doors LGBT’s Trans and Nonbinary group, which is open to all ethnicities. I haven’t had any troubles in that group, even though I’m always the only Black person there.
I’ve been an activist since 1995. Whether its for bisexuality, fat liberation, Black lives, disability, homelessness, nonbinary or for survivors of CSA, it’s something very important to me. However in all these decades a big issue have been other (usually white) people and organisations asking for help. I’ve been asked to give a speech at the start of Totnes Pride, address a room full of nursing students in East London, give a presentation to the police and much more. I’ve also been asked by students and researchers to pass on details of their studies to “hard to reach” groups (there’s actually no such thing as hard-to-reach people, but only those seen as not worth the effort to reach).
I’m usually fine with requests if I’ve been given decent notice, and if the request is politely and sensitively worded. But that rarely happens. What’s very common is this:
Hi, I’m in charge of X event, and I just realised there are no X marginalised/oppressed groups speaking. Please can you fill the gap? It’s short notice, but can you let me know by tomorrow if you can do this? The event is taking place at the upstairs room of a pub – first drink will be on me!
I’m a student at X University, finishing off my high-level research piece on X. I now notice there aren’t any X-minority/marginalised people in this study I’ve been doing for (long-ass piece of time). Can you pass on details of my research to your followers?
As I’m a student, I can’t compensate anyone for taking part.
Why are these problematic?
The first example assumes I drink, and am able or willing to climb a flight of stairs to get to the event. It shows a lack of awareness that I have a life of my own, and will drop everything at a moment’s notice. It’s also incredibly insulting – they obviously don’t care about the work I do or who I am, but they need someone to tick their diversity box. The final nail in the coffin is the lack of any payment. I’ve participated at events before for free, where the organisers have a track record of supporting marginalised people, or where the organisers are grassroots activists who are just as broke as I am. I once turned down a request to speak at a major London University, when I was told they couldn’t pay me, as they had already spent their funding on alcohol for the reception!
The second example shows that the student hasn’t given a single thought about who makes up their research – there’s probably a deadline coming up, and they know their supervisor/teacher is going to spot a blizzard in their test subjects. This example also shows a lack of respect of people who already have a difficult life in an awful society. Some students and educational researchers aren’t allowed or able to give cash, but there are other ways to help those who are helping you. This doesn’t count when I’m asked by corporate and government researchers. As someone once said, “F*ck you. Pay me!”
Some better examples of how to ask marginalised people to participate.
Example 3 (Events):
Dear (Recipient’s name)
I’m (name) from (group/charity). I’m in charge of (upcoming event that DOESN’T take place in few days time) We met at (event) AND/OR I’ve been (following your social media account/ work you’ve been doing) for (x amount of time). I’ve shared your (posts/lists of resources) with others who may benefit from them OR interacted with your posts/work and found them interesting/challenging. It’s because of this that I would like to invite you to (take part in/be on a panel/lead a discussion on) X subject at our event. Your work and experiences are valued by (group/charity) and we want to reflect that in this event.
I realise this current climate may be difficult for you, but I would appreciate if you would give my participation request some consideration. We have funds available OR are currently crowdfunding) so everyone who takes part can be paid/have their expenses met/are not out of pocket. If you need a carer or assistant to be with you, they will also be included. We are also working to ensure disability requirements will be in place both for our speakers and our attendees.
If you agree to take part, you would be asked to do so for (x amount of time). There will be water and light refreshments available, and there will be a quiet room/separate space if you need to take medications or just decompress afterward.
Please let me know if you have any questions/concerns/additional requirements.
(Contact number/textphone and email)
Example 4 (Research):
Dear (Recipient’s name)
I’m (name) from (educational establishment). I’m studying (subject name and level) because (your aim for the piece of research/what you hope to achieve with it). My Supervisor/Main teacher is (their name and title if applicable).
We met at (event) AND/OR I’ve been (following your social media account/ work you’ve been doing) for (x amount of time). I’ve shared your (posts/lists of resources with others who may benefit from them) OR (interacted with your posts/resources/work and found them interesting/challenging)
I realise this current climate may be difficult for you, and that you may receive many requests for research assistance, but I would appreciate if you would give my request some thought. As I’m at the START of my (piece of study), I want to undertake it with inclusion and ethical considerations firmly in place. I want to ensure everyone’s voices and experiences are heard. I would appreciate if you could pass on this (link to research questionnaire/information flyer/request I’ve worded in attachment) on to members of your group/your next social media post.
BONUS POINT I can provide questions in (X languages) if required.
I am unable to offer monetary compensation for taking part in this research, however I do can give some free (printing/photocopying/access to usually paywalled library sites or journals) that all participants can use.
As a thank you for taking part in this study, every participant will receive a voucher for X sum of money that can be used in X amount of places/supermarkets/essential outlets.
Please let me know if you have any questions/concerns/additional requirements.
(Your Contact number/textphone and email)
(Supervisor’s contact number/textphone and email)
Example 3 shows that some thought has gone into the request. It acknowledges that marginalised people should be compensated for their knowledge, time and energy. It takes into account that many marginalised people will have multiple oppressions, and physical and mental disability or Neuro diversity is a common one. It sets out exactly what is expected, so I can manage my energy levels (spoons), that I may need a friend or carer to be with me, and that what I have to say is important. Sometimes just having my travel expenses covered will be incentive enough for me to participate in an event, especially if they are a shoestring group.
Example 4 shows that the researcher is taking ethics seriously. It shows that although they may not have money, they have other resources that would be very welcome to marginalised participants. Free photocopying is like a gift from God! Most importantly to me however, is the timing. I’ve received countless requests from students who are in a last-minute dash to finish their research, and who never gave people like me a single thought. Marginalised people are not a handy addition or a footnote – we should be in your research from the very start. This example shows that I will be respected by the student, and that my experiences and knowledge are important to them.
So to end, stop treating marginalised people like trash. We are over-studied and under-funded. You have the power to change that.
Among the many insensitive questions I’d like to see disappear in 2019, this is in my top 10. Firstly, it sets up the answer to be either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and when it comes to dating and romance, things are rarely this simple. It also assumes that the person answering the question isn’t bisexual/pansexual themselves. The way some of these questions are phrased are also leading: “Would you date a man who had sex with a man?” The person asking this question is often looking for shock value; a reinforcement of their own ideas. I’ve seen many youtube vids where this question is aimed at people assumed to be intolerant or bigoted. Type the words, “Black bisexuality” into the search box of youtube, and you will find zillions of reactionary, depressing vids of black people, whether they are gay, lesbian or straight. Tempers quickly flare at just the thought of dating a bi/pan person – how dare the interviewer even ask them such a thing? Stereotypes abound, voices are raised, faces become twisted. Bisexuals cheat; they spread sexually transmitted diseases, they can’t be faithful and will always want to be with another gender. The potential for emotional and physical violence is evident in the disgust of many responses. As a black bisexual person watching these videos, it makes me despair – having been out and open as bi for 25 years, these are the same responses I heard right at the very start. So little has changed for bisexuals of colour.
Bisexuality and Pansexuality is about attraction to more than one gender: you can be bi/pan and a virgin/celibate/aromantic. But to bigots, bisexuality is about having unsafe sex with as many people as possible, so that means they don’t deserve respect at even the most basic level. The chances of the people answering this question, having dated/slept with/fallen in love with/been attracted to a bisexual person who was closeted, is pretty high, but their knee-jerk “NO!” ignores all that. It lets the world know the responders aren’t that kind of person – sullied by any theoretical closeness to bi/pan people.
Would you date someone you were attracted to? Would you be with someone you love, but many straight and gay/lesbian folks hate? Would you accept that people who cheat or exhibit unsafe behaviour, come from all sexual orientations? If the answer to the above three questions is YES, then I want to say THANK YOU for being an okay human being.
These targets on my back are weighing me down: Biphobia/Fatphobia/Racism/Ableism “Wait your turn!” Says the well-meaning activist “Why are you so angry?” Says the self-proclaimed ally. “My back hurts,” I respond. “I need help.”
My body is covered in bruises From people touching me with barge poles: “I’ve always liked fat girls/black girls/bisexual girls,” says the fetish guy. “I don’t like holding hands/acknowledging you/kissing you in public,” he says later. “I’m lonely,” I respond. “I need help.”
I find a home at the bottom of a barrel: “If you only lost some weight/wore a wig/lightened your skin,” says the media “Don’t make this about race,” says the bigot “Bisexuality is a cop out!” Screams the lesbians and gays at Pride. “My world is full of hatred,” I respond. “I need help.”
World Suicide Prevention Day comes around: “Reach out and talk to someone,” says the Prime Minister “Call this helpline that doesn’t know how to talk to blacks/bisexuals/old people” Says the clueless straight white folks “This life is too painful,” I respond. “I just want it to stop.”
A few photos from UK Black Pride 2018. (Not all those pictured are bisexual) For a write up of the event, have a look at http://bisofcolour.tumblr.com/post/175710875838/uk-black-pride-happened-on-8th-july-2018-i-was
New Update to Bi’s of Colour Book, edited by the Bi’s of Colour Collective
Bi’s of Colour Anthology: call for contributors WORLDWIDE!
Are you a bisexual/pansexual/fluid-sexuality person of colour? Are you sick of having everyone else speak for/over us?
If you answered YES, then read on!
We are making plans to write a book about the lives and experiences of bisexuals of colour.
This is part of our longer term project to document and celebrate the richness of our lives; to connect us with one another.
It will be built on the foundations of the Bi’s of Colour History Report. We previously had confined this call for submissions to Europe, but now we are opening this up to bisexuals around the world. We plan to have the following chapter headings, but this is just a guide.
Creativity and the Arts Visibility and Erasure of Bi’s of Colour – where we are welcome, and where we aren’t White Academics versus Activists of Colour Dominant culture gaze – hypersexual, fetishes, imperialism and colonialism Dating and Relationships Isolation, exclusion and loneliness Health – Sexual health, Mental health, Disabilities Bi’s of Colour and BAME organisations Bi’s of Colour and LGBT organisations Families, Carers, Acceptance and Rejection Racism Religion, belief and spirituality or lack of Body image and fashion Class Ageing Violence We are open to other headings, so if you think of something you can’t wait to express, let us know. We are also interested in non-fiction, art, photography or things we haven’t thought of yet! You can always contribute using a pen name if you want to be anonymous.
All contributors will be paid – we’ll be crowdfunding, so everyone will get an equal share – the amount will depend on how much we raise and how many contributors
If you are interested in contributing, email us at email@example.com .
If you’ve had as much trouble finding this book as I have, here’s what it looks like. I’ve had several issues with this book when it was just a kickstarter: the title seemed inappropriate to the large numbers of bisexual and queer Christians I know, but the biggest problem was the lack of awareness of ethnicity and bisexuality. I asked about this when the book was being put together, and was given the tired line: “We couldn’t find any Bisexuals of Colour”. I was later told that there is indeed a black bisexual in the book, but it still hurt me to see this shoe-horning of a silenced group at the last minute when they realised the whole project was a #Blizzard.