Exploring being Black and LGBTQ+

Intersectionality matters: it’s hard being a heterosexual, white man.  It’s harder being black and harder still if you happen also to have been born a woman and/or LGBTQ+.  The statistics speak for themselves: 

  • 51% of BAME LGBT people reported having experienced racism in the LGBT+ community; this number rises to 61% for black LGBT people.  
  • 1 in 5 BAME LGBT people have experienced unequal treatment from healthcare staff because they are LGBT, compared to 1 in 8 for LGBT people in general.
  • 12% of BAME LGBT employees had lost a job because of being LGBT compared to 3% of LGBT staff
  • 10% of BAME LGBT staff have been physically attacked because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the workplace, compared to 3% of white LGBT staff.

Recognising the peculiarly British roots of African homophobia

It is important to recognise that homophobia is largely not native to Africa but instead stems from the attempted cultural genocide and colonial export of homophobia by the British Empire in the 19th century.

Bulldozing the playing field

How then do we begin to address the uneven playing field of life, to challenge prejudice against people both because of their ethnicity and their sexual and/or gender identity?  A good place to start is to understand better the reality of what LGBTQ+ black people are like.  This article by BAME LGBTQ+ rights activists dispels 15 common myths about LGBTQ people of colour.


Celebrating black LGBTQ+ success

It is equally important to celebrate the success achieved by so many black people who also identify as LGBTQ+.  Despite widespread and intersectional social prejudice, many people are simply irrepressible, such as these black LGBTQ+ heroes.

The active pursuit of equality

Equality for black people, LGBTQ+ people, women and other minorities will not happen simply through goodwill and education.  All that is necessary for the violently repressive status quo to triumph is for good people to do nothing.  We must all be courageous, speaking out and joining together to persistently and forcibly challenge privilege, discrimination and the often subtle and near-invisible barriers to the success of repressed groups of all kinds wherever we become aware of them.

We cannot pretend this is someone else’s fight: we are all involved whether we would want to be or not, and by dint of existentialism if we do nothing we choose to side with the violent repression hidden all around us that quietly but efficiently destroys black and LGBTQ+ lives with impunity.

For more information about what Stonewall are doing to pursue LGBTQ+ and black equality, check out their website.

Assistant Librarian (Promotions) at the University Library. An enthusiastic advocate of libraries, diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice for all, inside and outside the workplace.

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