How White LGBTQ People Can Be More Inclusive of People of Color

As a minority group that regularly battles prejudice, violence, and ignorance from governments, hate groups, and the like, LGBTQ people know what it’s like to be discriminated against. That’s why the gay community tends to pride itself on being anti-discriminatory and accepting of people from all walks of life.

Unfortunately, the gay community is not devoid of casual racism. Even though, in theory, people should know better, certain forms of racism in the LGBTQ community have become so normalized that they get brushed off as minor.

Before I go on, let me define the kind of racism I’m talking about to avoid confusion. Racism, in an institutional sense, is race-based discrimination from a position of power or privilege.

This means that a gay person with white privilege can be racist toward gay people of color and people of color in general.

I’m not talking about mustache twirling, KKK-grade, Hitler level racism that’s so obvious anyone with any sense of human decency would banish it from their mind. I’m talking about the “little” things, like the fetishization of black men by gay white men, the stigmatization of Asian men by gay men of other races, mainstream LGBTQ campaigns with little racial awareness, and racial “preferences” that can be innocuous, but at times reflect an underlying prejudice. As normalized as they are, they suck for LGBTQ people of color who are not well represented in either their own racial communities or the mainstream LGBTQ community. The lack of acceptance from either group puts a strain on how safe LGBTQ people of color feel in a lot of the spaces they occupy. So if you’re white and LGBTQ and you want to make sure that LGBTQ spaces are as safe and inclusive for everyone as possible, here are some steps you can take to support people of color and be more racially aware.

1. Be Aware of Intersectionality

Be aware that your experience of being LGBTQ and white is not representative of being lesbian and Asian or gay and latin@, or queer and black.

Awareness of intersectionality means recognizing that LGBTQ people of color can be discriminated against not as people of color or as LGBTQ people, but as both simultaneously. For example, if you’re a gay white woman and you’re already aware of how your gender and sexuality intersect, remember that race is yet another intersection, and not a negligible one. In most cases race is highly visible, apparent from birth, and connected to cultural identity and family affiliation.

2. Don’t Think That Being LGBTQ Lets You Off the Hook for Being Racist

Keeping intersectionality in mind, understand that just because you’ve faced discrimination doesn’t mean you understand every form of discrimination or are immune from being discriminatory yourself. We all have some form of privilege, and acknowledging your privilege when it comes to race means acknowledging the unconscious ways in which you can also be racist. In the past, when I called out someone (who happened to be gay) for being racially oblivious, his response was that, as a gay person, he can understand what it’s like to be discriminated against for being black.

Here’s why I disagree with a statement like that: if a person who has directly experienced racism is telling you that you’re being racially oblivious and you dismiss everything they say because “I’ve been discriminated against too,” you’re devaluing the experiences of people of color just as much as the institutions that continue to exclude them.

When LGBTQ people of color call out other people in the community for being racist, they don’t want you to tear your clothes apart and fall to your knees weeping with white guilt. What they want you to do is check yourself, listen to what they have to say, and be more aware of experiences besides your own. Seeing casual racism in the LGBTQ community isn’t about demonizing white people or making people paranoid about causing offense. It’s about making sure we’re all self-aware enough to check our cultural blind spots and truly listen to and value other people’s experiences.

3. Know Casual Racism When You See It

What does casual racism look like in LGBTQ spaces? A lot like casual racism everywhere else.

Casual racism thinks mixed race people are “exotic,” penis size is determined by race according to “some studies” that probably don’t exist, black women are aggressive, and just about every other common racial stereotype under the sun. Really, stereotypes fuel casual racism in all its forms.

Casual racism also thinks that LGBTQ people have transcended all responsibility for dealing with racial issues. For example, if you’re a queer person of color who wants to vocalize a racial concern in a predominantly white queer space and casual racism rears its head, you could be accused of being divisive (extra irony points if you were pointing out divisiveness that actually exists).

Sometimes casual racism masquerades as inclusion or open mindedness. For example, there are some gay people who go out of their way to date someone of another race just to say they’ve done it. Such gays then receive the Congratulatory Cookie of Open Mindedness from people of color for letting us sleep with them. But not really, because dating someone because of their race is as ridiculous as rejecting someone because of their race. The same applies to predominately white gay groups that go out of their way to snag token people of color (oblivious to the fact that these spaces don’t always feel inclusive to the people of color in question). Tokenism may seem progressive on its surface, but it’s really just another form of othering.

So if you see casual racism, remember it. And talk about it. Notice if you’re ever guilty of it and, if you are, take responsibility for it.

I would say explain it to other white LGBTQ people, but it’s frustrating when it takes a white person saying the same thing people of color have been saying for ages to convince other white people to change their actions. Instead, tell them to take the race related concerns of LGBTQ people of color seriously – as in listen to us.

As LGBTQ people, we get silenced all the time, told we’re too sensitive, told not to flaunt our sexuality. Sexual minorities of color can find themselves silenced further when their concerns about race are dismissed by the predominantly white, mainstream LGBTQ community.

Let’s keep working to change that.

What are some other ways we can help make spaces more inclusive of LGBTQ people of color? Please share in the comments below!

Originally published on Everyday Feminist. Republished WITH PERMISSION MOTHERF*CKERS.

About the author: Jarune Uwujaren is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism. A Nigerian-American recent graduate who’s stumbling towards a career in writing, Jarune can currently be found drifting around the DC metro area with a phone or a laptop nearby. When not writing for fun or profit, Jarune enjoys food, fresh air, good books, drawing, poetry, and sci-fi.

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  1. As a white queer person, I think that instead of my queerness allowing me to understand what its like to be discriminated against for being a person of color, it allows me to know just how much I can’t understand it. I think about well-meaning straight and how even the best of them can’t quite conceptualize what it means to be queer, and know that as much as some of the struggles faced by POC are the same as those faced by queer folk, there will always be huge differences and everyone needs to respect that.

    This is a really great article, and it’s always good to get the reminder to check your privilege and not be a dick.

  2. Righty, I have a question. I’m part of an LGBTQ group at a university in the UK. What can we do to make PoC feel more comfortable coming along?

    • I was just about to post a question similar to this! I’m part of a LGBTQ+ group at a UK university and we would love to receive some suggestions about how we can better support LGBT people of colour. :)

      • Never commented before but i thought id drop a line or two or 649. I graduated from uni (in the UK) about a year ago and during my time there i never went to a single LGBTQ event. Not because i didn’t want to but every time i almost did only two thoughts ran through my head:
        1) I don’t even know if being ‘my kind’ of bisexual counts (all id ever heard, read or seen about bisexuality equated to – YOU’RE A GREEDY SLUT) Every bisexual woman on tv, in fiction etc was for lack of another word – pliable. I am a black, bisexual woman who is aggressive/masculine with BOTH women and men. Bi-women are so persistently represented in such a singular way that for many years i thought the only explanation was that i was actually a man.
        Hetero normative thinking dictates that masculinity in women – and therefore any deviation from gender norms – is so repulsive that to be desired by heterosexual males AND be queer you have be bisexual in a ‘i want to have sex with you oh holy man-god and possibly another woman if it so pleases you’ way and you f*ckin well better be feminine cuz men don’t like a manly broad. Which is utter bullocks but that’s another comment for another day. While within the queer supposedly progressive ‘community’ – quotes intended – women always assume I’m a lesbian and I always proudly correct them i wont tolerate this covert ‘bi shaming’ which is everywhere in queer culture. I’ve actually heard the words ‘you don’t look bi’ from the mouths of lesbian women. Seriously.
        This is by no means a slur towards fem women (i think feminine women are the closet nature has ever gotten to creating perfection) it’s just to illustrate that even in queer spaces i still have to justify myself or earn my ‘queer credentials’.

        2) WHAT IF IM THE ONLY BLACK FACE THERE. Being the only WOC in any non familiar space immediately heightens all your senses and puts you on guard. It’s a very strong feeling of being doubly ‘other’.
        I did however attend non queer African society events because frankly it seemed easier. We all wanted to get to know other black people but it wasn’t just to share our similarities but to share our differences too. What we did at the start of term (after fresher’s week so people wouldn’t have to miss ‘normal’ events was a ‘bring the best African dish’ night which was always successful. We got to taste and experience our cultural differences (Africa encompasses over 50 countries so there were many) with people who shared the undeniable similarity of being black, being black and living in the west and even simple things like having afro hair. That’s one of the best things about good communities, being able to feel like you belong while still being an individual.

        So maybe you could organise something like that, you can call it ‘tasting the rainbow’ and when you advertise with leaflets, posters etc please for the love of bacon include some sort of imagery of people with different skintones. You don’t need to use pictures of actual humans in case some people aren’t out yet (which is quite common with WOC) even if you just paint some stick people it will help. It also helps to have a more personal online presence, somewhere with words written by members with the best of all icebreakers – self deprecating British humour – it’s easier to talk yourself into going if you can say “see they seem nice and they’re actually EXPECTING to see a an African/Asian/Latina/Caribbean person”

  3. I am sharing this article with everyone I know. The casual racism existent in Dublin is scary. Last Halloween a white gay man dressed in blackface at a popular gay club and when people called him on it(including PoC) he refused to acknowledge the inherent racism and so many people defended him! An ex of mine once told me she had ‘jungle fever’, I at first didn’t understand her and when I finally realised what she meant I just sat there, open-mouthed. They are only two examples of so so many incidents. Thanks for publishing this!

    • Samezies. Sports teams at my University in Scotland host Cowboys and Indians parties all the time. The amount of people in war bonnets and brown face makes me sad/ill. When I bring it up no one seems to mind or see the problem. Casual racism is everywhere here.

    • One of my cousins (I’m from the American Midwest) dressed up as Fat Albert. Which would have been fine, but she used blackface. Thing is she younger than ten, so her parent probably did it for her. American racism is still SO prevalent. The idea of “you’re white, so act like it” or “I listen to black artists but don’t really like black people” are the most common I have seen. Racism does run both ways, but in America there is such a cultural divide, and those who bridge the divide are made fun of or looked down upon by the more isolated, small community/family members raised with the divide in place.

  4. Congratulatory Cookie of Open Mindedness sound delicious. They’re probably made with the tears of feminists and have high cholesterol.

  5. I never know how to respond when people make casually racist remarks. I cringe and try to change the subject, but I feel like I should directly challenge them but I don’t know how. I feel like I’m not qualified to comment. I hate it.

    • Hey! I felt that way too a couple years ago. I got some peer to peer training on situations like this one. Here are a couple of things that might help. I find that asking questions is a good place to start. Things like “I don’t understand what you mean by that, could you explain it to me?” or “Is that what that word/phrase/concept really means? I always thought it meant x” or “huh, that’s weird I always thought of that kind of thinking/speaking/acting reinforced stereotypes that aren’t really true.”

      This gives the chance for someone to explain their thinking, and sometimes just hearing yourself out loud is enough to correct the situation. Sometimes it’s not but it’s a place to start.

      I’ve found that if you can call them on being racist without using the word racist or race then it usually goes much better, they can sort of gracefully bow out without losing to much face. Although when I’m tired I have just yelled “that’s racist and not okay.” at people.

      • Yes I never know whether to say something either.

        Similarly what could I say to people who casually use the words gay in a negative way or faggot? I know that most of these people are pro LGBT generally but there is also a culture of saying that sort of thing here. Sometimes I feel weird calling out people I don’t know that well, like my teammates.

        • Yeah usually the same tactic works. Sometimes when my normally lovely male bodied friends throw around the f word I just look confused. Then they get a chance to see your confusion and explain it. If that doesn’t work, try something like “Hey person using the F word did you know that it comes from the fact that LGBTQ people used to be used as kindling in France? How sickening is it that they were burned alive as punishment for being who they were?” The same idea here as with casual racism, you get the behavior to stop, and they get to look slightly less bigoted. For people who use gay the wrong way I’ve found something like this works okay “What does that word mean? I thought it meant an expression of ones sexuality and not x”

          Although 2 weeks ago some of my teammates were using Gay the wrong way I just yelled “Use a different word.” Calling people on their privilege is exhausting sometimes. I hope it helps!

          • Usually if you ask them to define the word you can gently correct them afterword on the proper usage of those words. Something like “what exactly do you mean when you use f word/gay? Is there a word that better fits what you’re trying to say?”

            Good luck!

        • When acquaintances use the word “gay” inappropriately around me, I pretend they’ve just told me some fascinating new piece of information. Example:
          Them: “Being an accountant is so gay!”
          Me (sounding fascinated): Oh, really? I wasn’t aware accountants were more likely to be attracted to their same gender than the rest of the population! Huh. I wonder why that happens? *stares pensively off into space*.

          By about the third or fourth time, they usually stop saying it in front of you (or stop hanging out with you, which works also)

      • Also, with people who aren’t total strangers, it can work to say, “Eek, that really makes you sound like a racist.” (True, sometimes “work” means “mean make them kind of blow you off but also not explode or anything and maybe it sinks in a bit?”) Because honestly, I’m not even that interested in creating dialogue most of the time, I’m interested in changing behavior. Just don’t say or do racist things. Good enough.

        With people who I have no reason to maintain any kind of relationship with but where it’s still not practical to cause a scene (friends of friends, etc.), I tend to just turn on my heel and leave the room the minute some dumb shit comes out of their mouth.

        (This comment makes it sound like my daily life is full of racists and it isn’t, especially! but as a confrontation-averse sort of person I have mulled my strategy over a bit.)

    • I really like what CeliaC’s written here. Is there an AS article (or more than one) that already exists about how to challenge microaggressions and harmful displays of unchecked privilege when they occur? Could there be one? I would benefit from that.

  6. Thank you for writing this awesome piece. Hits close to home on many levels.
    As a gay Latina, yes, I’ve encountered/faced discrimination ever since I could remember. Toda mi vida, my entire life.

    It’s tough to be disrespected, denied certain rights, looked down on simply because the color of my skin.
    It’s even more hurtful when other LGBT people discriminate on us (gay people of color)

    I really do believe if we treat everyone with the same dignity and respect we’d like to be treated, it would be a whole lot better for us all.

    I live by that and it works for me. -Alicia R.

    • I second that. The discrimination within the Latino community toward LGBTQ individuals, especially in regards to Religious beliefs, it is easy to feel out of place. And within the LGBTQ community it’s difficult to assimilate into the upper-middle class white perception that is presented in television/movies/etc. I myself live in Los Angeles and do not feel entirely comfortable within the “West Hollywood” lifestyle yet, I am not completely accepted within what I feel to by ‘my’ community, East Los Angeles. Complex stuff!

      • of course your experience is absolutely your own and you must raise it, but I don’t like when people make sweeping generalizations with regard to either the Latino community or other communities of color about being so far behind on LGBTQI. That seems like a false (and vaguely racist) trope itself. Personally, it would be a cold day in hell before my mother, sister, or most others I know would discriminate on our issues. So it’s complicated, as are most human beings.

        And WeHo’s a bit overdone anyway. Nice place to visit but not to live, or so it seems to me.

  7. Thank you so much for writing this article.

    I went to a university were the majority of the population was white and Christian. You could imagine there weren’t many out LGBTQ people. When I came out, it was confusing for many people because they could not wrap their minds around the fact that I was Asian and gay. Apparently, Asian people can’t be gay. Obviously that was not true. This belief also stems from the homophobic Asian community, and EVERY single Asian person I know who came out to their family has been disowned.

    The main reason I came out was to create visibility for LGBTQ people and queer Asians. I wanted people to see that happiness was possible and that they have the support of others in the LGBTQ community.

    To answer your question about how to be more inclusive to QPOC, start by creating dialogue. In my opinion, it’s ok to ask about other people’s experience. Though you may never fully understand what being a POC is like, by asking you show that you sincerely want to understand and that you care. Showing that you care about them is one of the best ways to show inclusivity. Also be mindful, if they do not want to talk about it, don’t force them too. Simply let them know that they have your support and that you care about inclusivity.

  8. Its so easy and readable and just so fucking easy to understand and reference.

    Its heartbreakingly refreshing.

  9. Perfect! I’d like to add that it doesn’t just stop with these 3 pointers, but hopefully it can begin a process of continual examination and persistent empathy. & people of color can have privilege too, so we need to check it & critique that as well. Like I’m just coming to the realization that I have passing privilege being perceived as ‘ethnically ambiguous’ & I’m actually on the ‘lighter’ side of brown. So now I’m trying to unpack what that means to me.

  10. I can slightly relate to this. I’m an African American lesbian with a white girl friend but I’m accepted more by the white community more than the people of my color or other lesbians like me. They seem to taunt me more than anything for it oddly.
    ( Also I have an extremely “white” personality and voice and I don’t really consider myself “black” but I doubt that should give them any reason to treat me the way they do)

    • Yes, work on that issue first because that may be why they are having a hard time accepting you. Particuarly if you feel like you are not “black” like them. It may come off like you think you are better than them because of your “white personality”. Whatever that is.

      • P.S….outlets like AfroPunk is proof that alternative lifestyles for black people do exist. Maybe you just haven’t come across the diversity you need just yet. So please don’t write off all black people as unaccepting because you may be into different music, movies, hobbies, etc. The world is huge and you’d be surprise how much you actually have in common with others out there.

    • I used to have a very narrow definition of “blackness” and given I listened to alternative music shared interest that stereotypically went along with the white people (I did live in a really white suburb…oh) I felt that I didn’t get along with other black people. I then actually you talked to some black people like people/human/non-stereotypes and realized that like every fucking person on the planet each group has all kinds of people.

      I fell into a lot of black/POC spaces which I had to look hard for like POC cosplayers/anime, Afropunk, POC atheist/skeptic and my whole fucking life made sense. I didn’t have to sacrifice or hide my “blackness” to make the other white people feel more at ease with me being in their really white , punk, atheist spaces. At the moment I’m looking for QPOC because I’m running into the same problem of white queers being really annoying when it comes to race and intersectionality.

      Point: there are different ways to be “black” be it a black panther or a black becky you are still black and there is nothing wrong with any of it.

    • This is something I’ve been thinking though, is there such thing as a “black personality” or “white personality” beyond harmful racial stereotypes? I’m inclined to think not.

  11. Just curious: if I’m a QPoC and I tend to find another QPoC group more attractive than others, is that tokenism? I wonder if terms like tokenism work for PoC members too. I ask this because I have found that a lot of people have their preferences based on where they grew up or the feedback from family about what is attractive and what is not. I certainly have preferences in what someone who is attractive looks like – and some of those features are not stereotypical ‘white’ features.
    As much as I generally agree with the article, I think that vilifying any form of ethnic-preference is unfair. We are products of our upbringing, whatever the influences were. If I find an average person of one ethnicity more attractive than the average person of another, I don’t think that’s necessarily a racially-based decision.

    • While it may not be a conscious decision to be attracted to one particular race, I think it’s still important to examine it. Just because it’s what you (I’m using the plural, indefinite “you” here) were taught growing up doesn’t make it more okay. I used to think I was only into a couple of “types” of people; it took some years to unlearn all that.

      • Well, then all attraction is therefore biased in those ways. I’m not saying that I am restrictive in what race I am attracted to, but let’s face it, even beyond skin-type, different people have different features (nose-shape, eye-shape, eye colour etc.) and some of those are more attractive to you (plural form) than others. Not all of that is because of a racial stereotype, but not all of us can pin out preferences on purely one aspect. To break that down and dismiss it (or even call it something to ‘unlearn’) is to dismiss our humour, morality and other aspects of our personality too.

        • I see this issue often within my group of friends (predominately gay-identified white men using Grindr)and I see that there’s a lot of debate as to what attraction is, and how it’s ok to state your preferences, if the preferences can be stated at all. There’s a lot of profiles that say things like “white only” or “looking for Asians and Latinos.”
          I think it’s fair to know that you prefer certain features, but not make a big deal about them, or state them to others in a way that dismisses the complexities of race and physical attraction, or physical attraction in general. I don’t think it’s something that needs to be “unlearned,” but would second the idea of examining why those preferences exist. If it’s just physical, fine. If it’s “I like black people better because *insert stereotype, idealogical reason, etc. here*…that would be the problem, yes?

  12. I still remember a moment when I was shocked to discover that I was surprisingly racist for being a queer person. It’s amazing how much subtle cultural racism I accidentally picked up in the mainly white suburbs of the Midwest where I grew up. I still struggle with this a lot of times, but I’m working on it. One thing that helps me is to constantly question my motives any time I’m tempted to make any comment that regards race. I try to ask myself, “Is what I’m about to say something that will build others up or tear them down? Is this something that would offend me if it was a comparable comment about queerness?”

    And, as always, it helps to do far more listening than I do talking about these things. And I mean LISTENING. Not just hearing.

  13. 4. You don’t own the movement. You don’t own the movement. You don’t own the movement. You don’t own the movement. You don’t own the movement.

    Say it over and over.

    In my personal history, the sense of entitlement over LGBTQ issues from White queers, being made to be the token, and just good old fashioned casual racism are the reasons why I tend to side eye invitations to non POC events.

    Get out of your comfort zone and *actually* attend QPOC events…easy peasy

    • I agree. I agree. I agree. :)

      So here’s a conundrum, then, that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, since becoming the editor of my city’s only LGBT-specific publication. Maybe you (or anyone else on this site) can help?

      The city I live in is overwhelmingly white – and the (growing) Hispanic, African American, Hmong, Asian, etc. populations tend to be overlooked/ignored/patted on the head a whole lot by the folks (mostly white) in charge, as well as a lot of the privileged “progressives” who call this place home.

      As one of those privileged (white, cis-gendered, queer) progressives, I want very much to do whatever I can to help change this weird dynamic. To check my shit, to really listen.

      I would love to include more stories from QPoC in our magazine, for instance (we focus on personal narratives, role modeling, community building), but keep running into this incredibly complex set of problems. A lot of QPoC are very hesitant to appear in the magazine in the first place. I don’t pretend to have a handle on the various, specific reasons, but from what little knowledge I have it seems to be everything from not feeling particularly welcome in an overwhelmingly white space, to fear of recriminations from the minority community at large.

      How do we work to make this better? I recognize that I can’t do it by myself, because that’s just another white person trying to take charge of minority issues. I’m just trying to find ways to do better outreach, I guess? To find ways to back up those folks within their communities who are already doing good work? Encourage those who might be inclined to do so? Or am I looking at this in the wrong way entirely? I agree that attending more QPoC events will help, and it’s something I intend to do more of, but what then?

      I’m honestly open to all input.

      • well, I think Lindsay’s posts below are good. Why not talk to people as people? I’m not trying to start anything but there’s something off-putting about this post – you are describing relating to fellow community members as an “incredibly complex problem,” due to “various specific reasons.” I’m sure you don’t want to sound like it, but it strikes a tone of looking for absolution for your own apathy – look at this huge mountain that I can never climb, etc. It sounds like an attempt to dissemble. If you’re an editor of a magazine that’s more control than most people of color can usually ever earn (they are usually selected as contributors but rarely editors because that implies real agency over a publication’s POV). And yet you sound overwhelmed by the gift and opportunity that is your new authority. It’s unfortunate, really. There are no cliff’s notes to solving the problem – save digging deep, and showing consideration and compassion.

        • thanks for the compliment :)

          for what it’s worth, i absolutely get where emily’s coming from, particularly as regards “just another white person trying to take charge of minority issues.” i think that’s why listening is so important. i’m not a WOC; i am in a relationship with one, however, and i could never have known, three years ago, just how ignorant i was. i didn’t even know what questions to ask. i mean, sure, i’d read peggy mcintosh and bell hooks, you know, all the usual. but all those little microaggressions sure feel different when you’re seeing them through the eyes of someone you love.

          i really lucked out. i fell in love and, as a partial consequence, i learned an enormous amount about my world that i’d been blind to before. it’s a different challenge to translate those learnings into an institutional setting.

          one thing my alma mater does really well is collaboration among student groups. our rainbow alliance and the BSA have put on joint panels about homophobia; RA has set up picnics and coffeehouses with some of the religious groups on campus; stuff like that. for a magazine, perhaps there’s a similar step to be taken – are there any publications in your city aimed at POC? could you reach out to them? or do you know QPOC in other cities who would be willing to contribute to get the ball rolling?

        • Well, Melanie, I’m going to admit that your response kind of stings. But it is what it is. Maybe I am approaching this all wrong. I always treat people as people, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve got a lot of my own biases and misguided ideas about things, usually that I don’t even realize are there until something specific brings it up.

          I’m trying to do better. And now that I’ve been given this position, I’d like to use it to highlight a more diverse cross section of the LGBTQA community. That’s why I asked. I’m not looking for Cliff’s Notes. I’m looking to listen to more people than I might get to meet in my regular day to day.

  14. The article seems to imply that white people are mostly making these blanket statements about race or perpetuating stereotypes. While I agree that white people do these things, that isn’t to say that other groups are incapable of perpetuating racism. Maybe it isn’t perceived as negatively because they also lack privilege in a western society? Tbh some of the most vocally racist/prejudice people I have met have not been white.

    • This article is not about ending prejudice between all racial groups, it’s about how white queers can be more inclusive of QPOC because white queers, especially cis white queers, tend to be face of LGBTQ* movements and spaces. QPOC can certainly be prejudiced toward other queer people, and that’s something that we need to work on as well, but This article is not about ending prejudice between all racial groups, it’s about how white queers can be more inclusive of QPOC because white queers, especially cis white queers, tend to be the dominant faces and voices of LGBTQ* movements and spaces. QPOC can certainly be prejudiced toward other queer people, and that’s something that we need to work on as well, but please don’t derail the original post to essentially imply that “but QPOC are just as bad as white queers!” Even if that’s not what you meant, your comment seems like it was heading in that direction, which. No.

    • Ignore the first version of my comment; I don’t know what happened there.

      This article is not about ending prejudice between all racial groups, it’s about how white queers can be more inclusive of QPOC because white queers, especially cis white queers, tend to be face of LGBTQ* movements and spaces. QPOC can certainly be prejudiced toward other queer people, and that’s something that we need to work on as well, but please don’t derail the original post to essentially imply that “but QPOC are just as bad as white queers!” Even if that’s not what you meant, your comment seems like it was heading in that direction, which. No. White queers need to stop contributing to the systemic oppression that is racism against QPOC (because that’s what racism actually is, not just stereotyping or generalizing about other racial groups).

    • it does not sound like you understand what racism is. the word racism refers to the constructed notion that non-white people are inferior, less than human, and deserve to be dominated by white people. in order to maintain this ideological hierarchy, these lies are built into the institutions that run our society. see “institutionalized racism.” racism occurs when folks are denied access to wealth, education, housing, employment, etc. because of the fact that they are non-white. this was defined at the beginning of the article.

      prejudice, on the other hand, is equal opportunity. i, for example, really don’t like most white people that i encounter on the day to day and assume that they will be ignorant and say dumb shit to me. i am prejudiced against white people. i am not, on the other hand, racist towards white people because as a brown person i do not have the societal capital to deny white people access to the shit that they want and need to live their lives just because i think they act like assholes.

      if, on the off chance, you were not trying to bring up reverse racism as a derailing cry and you were trying to talk about some sophisticated shit like colorism then kudos. too bad for your argument that this shit is also a product of racism that non-white folks internalize. it perpetuates racism, yes, but is still sourced from white folks. the same goes for discrimination btwn diff. groups, like (some) asian folks discriminating against black folks and bullshit like that. racial hierarchies are insidious.

      tl, dr. if you’re going to post some shit that sounds like you’re tryna get white folks off the hook for being racist check yourself and read a book too.

      • lol, you have a huge chip on your shoulder. Also, you have perfected the art of writing a condescending comment, it’s well known that using condescending and/or demeaning tones always helps get your point across better, and never shuts down the opposition to your argument (see, I can do it too!).
        Not that you care, but I agree reverse racism does not exist. However, I’m glad to know that if it did exist you would be the first to use it –> “ i, for example, really don’t like most white people that i encounter on the day to day and assume that they will be ignorant and say dumb shit to me. i am prejudiced against white people.”

        • if you’re going to argue with my words, engage with them. don’t attack my tone. my response was researched, thought-out and educated. i’m sorry if i can’t be troubled to be nice enough to be deemed worth to be listening to. (cite:

          and how are you really going to say that you don’t believe in reverse racism and then accuse me of being a potential reverse racist were that possibility to exist?!! that doesn’t make any sense. this entire response is predicated on the existence of the white supremacist patriarchy. you are not listening.

          ugh. if you want to explain what you meant when you say that the most racist people you’ve known are POC then be my frigging guest. i am legitimately curious. but nowhere yet have you made any statement that makes it clear.

          • ” if you want to explain what you meant when you say that the most racist people you’ve known are POC then be my frigging guest. i am legitimately curious. but nowhere yet have you made any statement that makes it clear.”

            You’re right, racist was the wrong word. I should have only said, ” Tbh some of the most vocally PREJUDICE people I have met have not been white.”

            Case in point, you:

            “i, for example, really don’t like most white people that i encounter on the day to day and assume that they will be ignorant and say dumb shit to me. i am prejudiced against white people”

            You are definitely not the only person I’ve heard similar things from. Sometimes directed at whites sometimes not, but the person who says it is rarely white, at least in my experience. Just wondering, how is my comment regarding the tone of your initial response “predicated on the existence of the white supremacist patriarchy” ? So the concept of writing a civil response is derived from white supremacist patriarchy?

            The amount of contempt that you derive from every-little-tiny-thing I’ve written (and I’m sure others) is frankly exhausting, I wish you the best of luck in life.

          • “In the instances when POC say shit like ‘Oh I can’t stand white folk’ or ‘Damn white people’, they aren’t saying ‘Oh I think they are inferior, I want to humiliate them, abuse them, enslave them and wipe out their people!’, they’re saying ‘Damn, after a couple hundred years of white people thinking I’m inferior, humiliating me, abusing me, enslaving me, and trying to wipe out my people, I don’t wanna deal with them.’ The context is completely different.”

            having to deal with people like you in real life is exhausting and at least on the internet i only have to do it when i choose. so peace out and treat the brown folks around you with some motherfucking respect for their sake, not yours.

    • Amen to what sally shears has to say.

      Racism is not just about individual prejudice, it’s about systematic oppression, which only white people have the social/cultural capital to enforce institutionally. Racism has a specific historical context – people of European descent creating a category known as “white” for themselves and assigned people of color to other categories, which were socially and politically subjugated to “white.” While individual people of color may excel within the system or act in prejudiced/discriminatory ways towards other people of color, it’s based in internalized racial oppression and white supremacy.

  15. i love this article. i love it right into tuesday.

    my pennies, some of which may be redundant:

    read Yo, Is This Racist? ( become aware of all the things you never knew were microaggressions (and sometimes huge effing macroaggressions). possibly develop a big ol’ internet crush on andrew ti.

    make friends with POC. (don’t do it just because they’re POC, either. but if all your friends are white, ask yourself why.) don’t make assumptions about where they hang out or what music they listen to or what food they like to eat. listen to what they tell you.

    don’t assume their skin color has something to do with it (whatever it is). don’t assume yours doesn’t.

    don’t make every conversation with them about you – how much you’re still learning, how guilty you feel at not being more inclusive, etc. maybe talk about, i don’t know, the simpsons. psh. be an interesting person and assume they are interesting as well.

    • Love Yo, Is This Racist?, thanks for the link! It is staggering how many casually racist things people say and do, seemingly without a second thought that, hey, that’s probably not cool.

      I am working diligently to check my own privileges on the daily and not engage in said microaggressions.

      • me too, kathryn, me too. you’re right–it’s astounding how many ways there are to make someone feel unwelcome. i hope i never stop learning.

  16. As others have said, this article is fantastic and much needed. Sometimes I feel like the only white queer person in my group of friends that doesn’t think making casually racist jokes is okay, and when I try to call people out on it I’m always made to feel like Captain Buzzkill.

    In a related vein, does anyone have any advice for how best to explain why using the word “ghetto” is racist? My white cis gay male friend uses it constantly, and when I tried to explain why he shouldn’t use it he insisted that it wasn’t a racialized term and that he grew up in “the ghetto” (a working-class white neighborhood.)

    • Oh man, “ghetto” is a tricky beast. I mean, the term stems from the systemic oppression (and eventual genocide) of Jewish populations in Europe. More recently, the term has come to be a super negative way of describing overwhelmingly black, working class neighborhoods. So here you have two, totally legitimate, totally horrible histories for the same word. Who gets to own it, then? Who gets to decide how it gets used in/appropriately?

      I am neither Jewish nor black, so I have no idea what the answer is.

      • Ugh, that word (ghetto) really gets me. I’m a mixed race (African/English) queer girl living in a predominantly White and Asian city actually, and I have a coworker who LOVES to use that word to describe me when she perceives my behaviour as being particularly “black”. I’ve called her on it before actually, but she laughed it off, not really thinking about when/why she’s employing that term.

  17. What I find MOST annoying/troublesome/hurtful in my everyday interactions with other LGTBQ folks is their willingness to use my perceived ‘blackness’ as a way to legitimize their own casual racism. I recently read a great article that struck a chord with me. It was centered around the controversy surrounding Azealia Banks and her use of the ‘f’word. Here’s the part that I found particularly poignant though:

    “White gay cis men have cultural access to the bodies of black women and black femmes, cultural access that black women and black femmes do not have in relation to white gay cis male bodies. This cultural access allows white gay cis men to caricature black femininities, through mannerisms and voice intonations, as rambunctiously depraved and outlandish. It is a form of ontological mockery that reinforces dehumanizing narratives and racist tropes about black femininities.”

    The full article can be read here:

    • CFC is everything. Love love love what they’re doing.

      That is such an excellent point regarding the one way cultural access re: white gay cismen and black women.

  18. I recently left college, as I was struggling to handle things there. On an almost daily basis, it was standard for the kids to say ‘am I black or something’? If they didn’t get included in the group discussion / get handed some food. The amount of racism or intolerance to the LGBT community was…. I just can’t explain. I’m not out and, haven’t even fully come out to myself, dealing with it now… But, even in front of teachers, gay jokes and comments were made. Discussions about who’s gay or who’s straight? Male students proclaiming ” I need a hair cut.. I look like a fucking lesbian”….

    Something needs to change.

    • So long that “treat them like people” does not equate to the color-blind bullshit, you are good to go!

        • That equates to not denying white privilege and supremacy don’t exist, denying racism exists, and saying bullshit like “black, white, blue, or purple”. Insisting that everybody is treated the same, and that we live a country (the U.S./ western society) that is complete meritocracy where all you have to do is “pull yourself by your bootstraps” and denying that there are centuries old racist structural inequalities in this country that make it harder for people of color to get to the same place economically and socially as white people.

  19. This article is much needed on this website. I have encountered a lot of casual and overt racism from the LGBT community in general and on this website. For example, on Autostraddle, an entitled racist white female queer idiot thought she had the right to continuously argue with me, a black woman, about whether or not black face should be offensive to me as a black person or any black people at all. (With no help from any moderators even though she must have argued with and insulted every other black person in that thread and willfully refused to listen to the fact that every single black person told her it wasn’t her place to decide how black people feel about ANY form of anti-black racism.) Or when an Asian queer female idiot, again on Autostraddle, asserted that thanks to affirmative action, unqualified black and Latino students who didn’t work hard were getting handed college admissions when they were lazy and weren’t as qualified as White and Asian students. (Just goes to show that even POC aren’t a monolith and can and do discriminate against other POC).

    When I first came out and I was younger and very naive, I erroneously believed that the LGBT community was more open-minded and progressive about everything, including race, and soon found out that wasn’t true. And I just don’t have the ENERGY to teach every ignorant sheltered white person and I certainly no longer have the inclination to respond nicely or kindly to any blatant anti black racism that comes out of the mouths of white queers. I’ll know what I’m taking about when I correct whatever stupid or ignorant shit you say about black people or black women, but I’ve gone through this so many times with people who refused to learn about the nature of racism, or people who had the nerve to get rude or ignorant with me when I’m only responding to their racist bullshit that I just don’t have the energy to PATIENTLY explain anymore. Sometimes I just feel like saying shut the f*ck up or read a motherfucking book, and that’s exactly what I do. So the first thing I would say is that white queers can do to make a lot of POC queers feel more inclusive is respect our rights to be fucking human beings with the same access to all the emotions that human beings are allowed to express. I am more then allowed to express anger, exasperation, and annoyance with a racist, willfully ignorant, and offensive fuck, and if someone challenges ME about the “tone” I use to respond to something as odious as RACISM, when the other person is being a fucking RACIST, you might catch some shit too. Ask the dumb ass who kept arguing with me over black face and what I had the right to be offended by as a black person.

    • **applause**
      “if someone challenges ME about the “tone” I use to respond to something as odious as RACISM, when the other person is being a fucking RACIST, you might catch some shit too”

  20. I am also tired about hearing about how homophobic and violent the black community is from white queers, many of whom don’t even know black people on a personal level. Please shut the f*ck up. That is another thing that white LGBT people need to do be more inclusive : don’t talk shit about black people and the black community. There are homophobic blacks, but no more then any other racial group. What truly effects homophobia is religiosity. Just like fundamentalist white Christians, there are a good deal of fundamentalist black Christians, but since the black community is treated like a monolith, the ENTIRE black community is more homophobic on whole. ::EYEROLL:: On a personal level, most -isms will piss me off, but racism will take me to an ugly place and I notice a lot of other black queers feel the similarly. Most black queers I know in NYC live in black communities with STRAIGHT blacks, not gay enclaves, and gay people should be asking themselves why. You can see evidence of this dating back to the Harlem Renaissance. Black gays were generally living their lives in the black communities of Harlem, NOT the bohemian enclave of the West Village. Could it be that racism effects the economic circumstances of many LGBT blacks, and that they are priced out of gay enclaves? Could it be that black queers from lower social economic strata’s are not welcomed by white, middle class, and more affluent LGBTS? (Constantly calling black people from the hood “ghetto”) Or that even more affluent black LGBTS just feel uncomfortable being one of the extremely few token POC in a gay enclave and that they’re still going experience some dumb ass racist or offensive behavior or language from white gays? (Thinking ALL black people are from the hood? That we’re exotic, that we have attitudes, we’re uncivilized, uneducated, going to rob, beat, or rape you). Also, don’t tell black people what is or isn’t anti-black racism or what it looks like, because they will ALWAYS be able to spot it better then you. Stand up to other racist white people around you whether or not any of your people of color friends are around, don’t ever lie to yourself and pretend reverse racism exists, don’t engage in colorblind racism, don’t pretend racism doesn’t exist, don’t make a discussion concerning racism about you as a white person (ex: talking about not being able to find makeup for your pale white skin and comparing that to the dearth of makeup for black skin) and when black people are discussing racism LISTEN, rather then speak and assert your “expert” opinions about anti-black racism.

  21. This is an article I needed to read! I’ve been thinking a lot about intersectionality lately, and melting away stigma and walls without erasure of other cultures. Thank you for writing, I’ll keep this in mind.

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