‘We exist’! Manchester LGBT charity aim to end ‘erasure of identities’ for BAME people

Black LGBT people have a lack of visibility in mainstream society, but the LGBT Foundation is trying to bring them to the forefront with their Black History Month event, ‘Screening in Colour’.

Black History Month is held every October and it exists to celebrate black history and culture – which is often overlooked in our society, in media and education.

Chloe Cousins, from Rainbow Noir, a social and peer support group for LGBTQI People of Colour, said: “Perhaps one of the most common ways in the UK that LGBTQI PoC experience prejudice is the erasure of our interconnected identities.

“People often do not think that you can be LGBTQI and a person of colour and therefore services, groups, nights often do not acknowledge or address our needs.

“Being LGBT is often, perhaps subconsciously, associated with being white.

“There is also a lot of racism and Islamophobia within LGBT communities and spaces which most of the time is unchallenged.”

‘Screening In Colour’ was hosted last weekend by the LGBT Foundation and it was a mini-festival of films featuring LGBT, black, Asian, and minority ethnic people.

The festival was held to bring LGBTQI PoC to the forefront and show that they do exist, something that should be done not just in October but all year round.

The event comes not long after the controversy surrounding the film ‘Stonewall’, which did not represent the minorities who were at the forefront of the riots, instead being accused of being ‘whitewashed’ as it featured mostly straight, white, male actors.

Chloe said: “Screening in Colour created opportunities for people to see work by LGBTQI PoC, starring and about the lives of LGBTQI PoC, which is something that is quite rare or perhaps a little harder to stumble across.

“The event offered a space after to talk about and discuss the films and representation of LGBTQI PoC and what can be done about it.

“There was definitely lots of learning going on which I think was great.

“I also think it is important for organisations to mark and celebrate Black History Month so it was nice that LGBT Foundation put something on.”

The Rainbow Noir group exists to create a sense of community for LGBTQI PoC to meet up in Manchester and discuss issues they face on a day-to-day basis.

The sessions include LGBTQI PoC film nights, games nights and art based activities, which aim to reassure members of the group that they are not alone.

Chloe said: “I would say to anyone perhaps struggling with finding, accepting or being proud of who they are that they are not alone.

“I would say that LGBTQI PoC have existed all over the world since the dawn of time and that they should try not to let anyone or anything else dictate who they should be.

“I would also say seeking out support, spaces and groups (on or offline) that are for LGBTQI PoC might be a nice way to interact with other people and develop friendships.

“Other LGBTQI PoC I know definitely helped me to grow as a person, understand myself, and the world around me and to feel happy and confident with who I am.

“I also think reading articles by, and finding images of, LGBTQI PoC from around the globe is very self-affirming.”

Rainbow Noir believe that prejudice against LGBTQI PoC still exists today but it is belittled, and cast aside as being ‘over sensitive’.

Chloe said: “LGBTQI PoC still get refused entry into LGBT bars, they are subject to inappropriate comments and questions whilst out on ‘the scene’, authenticity is still challenged.

“Very few LGBT services have specific BAME (Black, Asian or Minority Ethnical) programmes or support – people think that because LGBT people can get legally married now and that because we are protected by law against discrimination that the fight is over.

“It is perhaps less likely to get beaten up in the street for being LGBT but there is still a long way to go for equality for LGBT people and especially LGBTQI PoC.”

If you want to meet in a safe space for LGBTQI PoC find out more by clicking here

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