Friday, February 22, 2013

Everywhere we turn, there is a struggle.

Has it ever occurred to you how people and the media generalize communities into a single, condensed concept? That when discussing a group of people, there is a  tendency to view them as a whole, as a united front, especially those that fight oppression which is so openly targeted toward them? This exact image is what I find so many people to have when thinking of the LGBTQ+ community, as if those letters don't represent different identities which face various, unique obstacles in society, as well as the host of other identities a person can have. It's as if they cannot seem to grasp the idea that even within the queer community, there are divisions, separations, anger, hate, racism, sexism, classism, and oppression, and it's not complete acceptance of one another. Which leads me to talk about a topic that it so important in each of our lives and directly impacts us, and that is intersectionality.

Intersectionality is used to describe the multiple identities that each person has and the many ways that they mix, make us who we are, and cause the world we live in to treat us. For example, my identities include being male, white, straight, cisgendered, middle class, South African, and an atheist, and the way that I and society interact is due to how each of my identities is perceived and received, and in how they together create my collective experience in the world. This can be very different than the experience of someone who is a person of color, bisexual, religious, American, non-cisgendered, and lower class and ultimately it is how they all together represent a person that sums up their experiences.

Last week I came across this article which discusses this topic and talks about how one's multiple identities can affect their life:

In the article, an important point is made that there are multiple issues which pervade our society that are even within the queer community, particularly racism, which creates divisions in the community as people of color are treated as "outsiders." This kind of division is what I'm trying to convey when tackling the mainstream notion that "since queer people are oppressed, they must be more accepting of others," which is far from the truth. There are still the levels of oppression faced by a queer person of color that a white queer individual will never face, and we need to get rid of the notion that just because someone faces a certain type of oppression means they can understand all forms of oppression.

As the article claims, "Gay Will Never Be the New Black" and the ways oppression operate in society toward each group is different and creates separations among the people in the LGBTQ+ community. Until we all can come to understand the roles that our multiple identities play in our lives and the lives of the people around us, and until we can recognize that oppression is prevalent in all areas of society, there will continue to be struggles for equality and respect everywhere we turn.

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