I have made a handbook for Black people who want to better support other Black people. We are not a monolith: some of us need more help than others, and some of us need very different kinds of help. This handbook is a conversation starter – some ideas to consider if you want to ensure ALL Black Lives Matter, not just the ones currently trending. A Trans and disabled Black person is going to have different needs than a young cisgender Black person living in a predominately Whyte country. We Black people are all individuals and our identities don’t stop after others see the colour of our skin. Included in the handbook is a list of resources for more information on each of the points.
This handbook is also useful for Whyte people and Non-Black Indigenous people or Non-Black People of Colour. I hope you can learn about the complexities of living as a Black person, and all the battles we have to fight on multiple fronts. I hope you can gain an increase in empathy and understanding, because we need as much help as we can get.
Below is a zine I made several years ago about loneliness and how marginalised people are affected in a profound way by it. The zine is free, but if you’d like to put something in my tip jar you can do it HERE
I was recently interviewed for a project that amplifies the voices and experiences of Black People and People of Colour who live with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). The interview is up on YouTube, and will also appear on Spotify too.
It was a real pleasure to talk openly about my frustrations and difficulties, as well as the positives that come from living with DID. I also speak about fatphobia, racism, ableism, and how all of these impact one another. I ultimately see it as a positive piece, as Black people in the UK are rarely heard when it comes to physical and mental health, even though we are disproportionately affected by it.
After the great session at WorldCon on Speculative poetry, I was reminded of something I wrote a few years back – set in Chislehurst Caves, just outside London. Caves feature in my work an awful lot: I’m sure there’s something psychological about that, but I’ve never found any relatable meaning in my research.
This is a long rhyming poem, but one I love to reread often. I hope everyone (over the age of 18) enjoys it too!
If you’ve had to use mental health services in the UK, you’ll probably know this already. I have several mental health diagnoses: depression has given me a whole heap of trouble, despite the fact it’s one of the minor mental health ailments I live with.
In January 2018 my doctor sent me to Casualty after I told her I was suicidal. I was referred to the Home Treatment team, and that was where the nightmare really began. Over the course of a week, I was seen by 5 different people, most of whom hadn’t read any of my notes, so I had to start from the beginning with them. Each one said they would return, or that I’d see a maximum of 2 people from the team. That didn’t happen obviously. What really made this all even more horrible was when I was seen by a black woman who ended up being very biphobic and queerphobic, and could hardly look at me after I spoke to her about how biphobia affected my life in a negative way. To get this behaviour from a professional in my own home felt truly awful.
I was also encouraged to attend a support group at a day centre. Again I was met with bigoted and racist views from a Clinical Psychologist who ran the group. I finally wrote a complaint letter in February. I met with 2 of the senior staff (one glared at me the whole time). They said they would review how things were done, but nobody apologised. In fact it was December 2018 before I got an apology from the head psychiatrist. She told me she would get an Occupational Therapist and a Psychologist to contact me after the Christmas period. I heard nothing until 4 months later, I phoned the mental health centre to discharge myself. I had barely ended the call when I got an incoming call from the Occupational Therapist apologising for the long wait. “Maybe you’ll think about staying with us,” she said. “I’ve been thinking about this for 4 months, and the answer is no,” I replied.
I love the NHS, but when it comes to mental health, things are chronically bad. There is no consistency of service, no awareness of multiple marginalisation, no LGBT+ training. The only thing in abundance is the volume of lies I’ve been told. There are no other services for suicidal adults in my part of London. I can’t get seen by another borough on the NHS. I have precisely zero options when it comes to this. Being suicidal is bad, but the way I’ve been treated has magnified that into being intolerable. These people are supposed to help, but they’ve made things far worse for me, and what tops it off is that the next time I’m suicidal, I’m supposed to go to Casualty where the only thing they can do is refer me to the same people who treated me like shit.
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.
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
Mimi Launder is looking for opinions from bisexual People of Colour on this character being written out of the live-action version of Mulan. Please answer these questions below, and email them to Mimi.Launder@independent.co.uk
If you feel happy to comment or know much about the film:
1: How did you feel when you heard Li Shang, a bi icon, was erased from Mulan live action remake?
2: What are your thoughts on Disney’s decision and do you think it says anything about Disney’s attitudes to LGBT+ characters?
On bi erasure more generally: 3: How and in what ways does bi erasure impact your life? 4: Do you think the conversation on bi erasure/bisexuality excludes or ignores bi people of colour? 5: How important do you think it is to increase the representation of bisexual (and all LGBT+) people of colour in the media? Why is that important to you personally?