Monday, March 24, 2014

Scholastic Research on the QPOC community

In the coming weeks, I'll be completing a grad school level research project as part of the NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program. My research topic is on how Queer People of Color navigate their identities in various social setting such as racial spaces, queer spaces, the classroom and professional settings.  Before I could conduct my own research, I had to find and review the literature that was already out there. What I found both surprised me and didn't surprise me.


This surprised me because I found all these articles on intersectionality, but all of it was in terms of race and gender. I found maybe one article that threw sexual orientation in the mix. And for gender identity, it was all binary. It didn't surprise me because when you think about it, queer people of color are often not the focus of any movement. They sit in a space that people tend to forget about. I've noticed that a lot of times it's an either/or type situation; never a both. The fight for "gay" rights focuses on white people and the fight against racism focuses on heterosexual people. With this being my observation, I'm not surprised that people aren't studying the QPOC community. 

This makes me really upset that I don't have the time to publish the research I'm doing this semester. I found two articles total that touched on the QPOC community and one was about a legal case. I'm super interested in how QPOC navigate their identities because there can be a lot of homophobia & heterosexism in the racial spaces and a lot of racism in queer spaces. Personally, I feel like I have to pick and choose my identities depending on the space I'm in. And even when doing so, I still feel like the identity I'm suppressing is even more visible because I'm constantly thinking about if I'm showing it. 

It gets lonely when you feel like you can't fully connect with a group of people. In one of my classes, we watched Marlon Riggs's "Black Is, Black Ain't." I first watched this documentary in my Black Queer Literature and Film class. After seeing it again and seeing some of the quotes made by many prominent black figures only made it clearer that there is still a ton of homophobia in the black community. I also read an article for my project that referenced the film and it gave some clarity to these statements. It said that there is a strong sense of homophobia (especially towards black gay males) because black men have to be hyper masculine; they've been emasculated for so much of history that anything deviating from this is wrong and detrimental to the cause. 

Agree or disagree if you may, this puts queer people of color in a sticky situation. They can't fully identify with their racial community nor can they fully identify with the queer community. This is why I'm doing the research I'm doing. Intersectionality, in my opinion, is the when two identities combine to create a new and unique experience for an individual. Queer people of color have to live with the intersections of race and sexual orientation and/or gender identity. I'm excited to see what I find and hopefully I'll be able to add to the literature out there so that further down the line, it's not as difficult for people to look up research on Queer people of color and people will want to.

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