In My Skin: Being A Queer POC
So, here’s the tea: in 2020 the beautiful and powerful Jaida Essence Hall was crowned Queen of the twelfth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Her charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent were on another level of excellence.
I needed a minute after this historic moment, but RuPaul wasn’t done there. The 2021 winning Queen of season 13 was revealed as Symone. So, in the space of just 12 months, we have two game-changing role-models.
Beautiful. Strong. Bold. Proudly queer. Proudly black. Proudly fabulous queens. Jada Essence Hall and Symone will go down in history as iconic winners.
You can feel the change in the air. The increasing amount of strong, queer POC representation is something we need to celebrate. Seeing the impact of people who are equally as proud of their skin as they are of their sexuality is something to behold – standing up to society and proudly declaring:
”I am queer, black & fabulous!”
Television shows like Pose, Twenties and RuPaul’s Drag Race are giving queer people of colour a platform to share their own stories with the world. Paris is Burning was one of the first films to give trans people of colour a platform to speak their truth while the rest of the world a window into their reality.
Being a queer person of colour brings a multitude of head f**ks to an already complicated world. I have so much respect and admiration for everyone in my fellow queer family. For people of colour, being queer is an even more difficult battle to overcome.
We are often having to battle our own cultural stigmas and deep-rooted historical homophobia. This stems from colonial laws against homosexuality, which our forefathers had embedded in their minds. Not to mention religious interrogations from childhood – being told your true self is wrong by our religious leaders because it doesn’t align with societal norms.
We were raised to look up to a system that perpetuates racism. The system tries to change, yet still seems to need a lot of improvement. How messed up is that?
When we finally feel courageous enough to come out, we are hit with more negativity. A second layer of racism, stereotyping and segregation from inside our own LGBTQ+ family.
As we progress through this journey, learning to love yourself comes with so many trials and tribulations. It’s crucial to remember how fabulous you are throughout the good, the bad and the ugly.
We also have a conversation around colourism. Prejudice towards people from their own ethnic group based on their skin tone. Nobody should ever feel less about themselves because of their skin tone. The world is beautiful because it is made of so many different hues, shades and colours.
Your soul and your energy are what define you, not your skin.
To some, this article may sound strongly one-sided (everyone is entitled to their opinion) but I felt it was important to highlight some of the trials the queer community of colour go through on their journey to acceptance.
I truly believe that there is a great destination for everyone if you only believe in yourself.
Understanding what you want out of life and fuelling your own growth by putting steps and measures in place to reach that destination is crucially important.
As queer people of colour learning to support and understand each other its vital to value ourselves and the different strands and shades of others. We may not all be the same, but we are all one family. We are all on the same journey of growth and acceptance. And we should never leave anyone behind.
A lot of my passion in life comes from wanting to show this world that a gay, dark-skinned black boy from East London, with Caribbean heritage and from a broken home, can be a success.
I can make my mark on society. We need to prove to this world that we can all make something of our lives and that we will not align to the stereotypes that society expects of us. Microaggressions based on negative stereotypes will no longer be tolerated or absorbed.
The journey of life can be lonely sometimes. As I try to navigate my path, I often think of what our forefathers went through to give us the freedoms we have today. Respecting the past is key to understanding our future. We need to make sure that the POC queer pioneers of the past are celebrated in our future.
I would love to see more spaces open to represent the different strands that make up our LGBTQ+ family. Yes, we have the odd club night here and there, but it is time for permanent venues for queer people of colour and allies to have safe spaces to be themselves, connect, share their stories make memories and find love.
We have come a long way in this journey of liberation and equality but for queer people of colour it feels like we still have so much further to go.
Our community needs more than an annual event or club nights every other month. Yes, they are great and should continue, but we need more. We need spaces that offer a safe environment any day of the week where people can be free, be accepted and be seen.
The recent issues surrounding London Pride have brought the conversation of equality amongst LGBTQ+ people to the forefront once again. The sense of invisibility and lack of representation is something that needs to be addressed. Queer people of colour want to feel that they are equal. They want to know that their voice will be heard.
Calling out feelings of oppression in our own community is important. If you don’t speak up, you can’t change it. We have a responsibility to make sure everyone in our community feels connected and feels like there is a space for them.
Coming into 2021 it was amazing to see so many creative voices sharing their ideas and projects with the world. Podcasts, Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK and magazines like Chapter Z are allowing queer people of colour to share their voice and bring a much-needed level of representation to our world.
I end this article with a final plea, speak up and let your voice be heard. Be a part of the conversation and together we can be a part of another historic moment.
If you were touched by this story, please check out some more of our personal coming out tales here.