Bisexuals of Colour
I co-hosted a Bi’s of Colour workshop at BiCon 2010, which was attended by ten people. I was heartened at the turnout, as it was twice the number of people of colour I’d ever seen at a bisexual event before. The attendees were able to speak freely about their hopes and their frustrations. As bisexuals of colour we often face triple oppression: racism and biphobia within lesbian gay and trans spaces; racism, and ignorance within bisexual spaces; and negative attitudes towards anyone who isn’t heterosexual in BME communities.
It was saddening to hear that two people in the session had wanted to leave BiCon because they found it so unwelcoming. However the general feel of the session was that everyone was glad that they were present, and grateful for the extra support from others who were just like us.
The following points came out of the workshop.
- The Bi’s of colour session to be repeated at every BiCon
- Zero tolerance to racism at BiCon (similar to Boundaries and Harassment in the BiCon handbook)
- Workshop organisers need to be aware of racial balance of sessions. Ensure that everyone gets an opportunity to take part in the session.
- Be aware that not everyone has English as a first language, so in discussions appreciate that you will hear different voices that you may not be used to.
- Ethnicity and Race are an access issue. Think about your assumptions. How one speaks may cut people out of conversations and discussions. Pop culture references may not mean a thing to someone not raised in your culture.
- Instead of complaining about the lack of diversity, think about how you can make the existing resources better for people of colour.
- Put some of your energy into supporting groups that already support LGBT people of colour, such as ‘Everyone In’ (Scotland) or ‘Black Queer Brighton’.
- On email lists, make use of Bcc (blind carbon copy) as confidentiality is important to those not out to everyone. This is general good practice, but something that a lot of people don’t think about.
- If you are going to discuss diversity, address racism that exists in all of our bisexual communities.
And a final word from Jacqui:
Bi’s of colour will never check people’s skin tones at the door. We will never turn someone away if they are ‘not dark enough’. If you describe yourself as a black or minority ethnic (BME) person of colour, then you are welcome to come join us at BiCon next year!