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September 14, 2012

IconRacism? Homophobia? The issues facing those in a minority in a minority, in a minority…

When Stonewall and Runnymede last week (September, 2012) published their report ‘One minority at a time’ it came at an interesting time in terms of visible diversity in Britain.

The purpose of the report is to highlight the inadequacies of British public services in their treatment of black or minority ethnic groups who identify as Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual – ‘the multi-minority’.

The public services discussed are our health care providers, our judicial system and the police force tasked with our protection. The report recognises that whilst improvements have been made in the handling of race discrimination, work is still needed in dealings with the LGBT community and those who fall within this multi-minority category.

Health Care

An interesting quotation from the report was one respondent that stated the would not be happy to out himself to his GP whilst a member of his family had access to the records.  I can see why that might be a valid concern. I, myself, come from a mixed ethnic background and long ago recognised the two do rarely mix. We all know how quickly news moves across small communities! That homophobia may come from a person from a minority background should not dilute the severity of the issue.

‘I find that I try to avoid black doctors, which is terrible but the homophobia you can see straight away.  I have had comment where, for example, a doctor will say ‘well you know that’s not right, I will pray for you.’ And I just don’t need that.  If I have to go and see my GP I will avoid the black woman because I know that she is going to be much more judgemental about everything than the white doctor, yet, she doesn’t do it to my partner.’ (One minority at a Time; September 2012).

There were also, somewhat predictably, some comments on smear tests. Whether it be the intrusive questions or the fact that nurses are still making jokes about the size of the speculum. My experience is that this is not race specific, all nurses ask the same questions prior to a smear test… frankly if I have to hear the half gasp of indignity as I tell them that I do not use protection but that I am sexually active I will strangle someone. Yes, the questions are intrusive. Yes, they are personal but this is your health, either you are willing to be open about your sexual orientation or not. Their lack of tact should not infringe the level of care that you receive. And since yes, we all do need to take smear tests irrespective of sexual orientation or race I will live with it, for the sake of living.

But…

I think it is important to mention that the research conducted was based on ‘over 50 responses’, now I’m no expert but if I went out and spoke to 50 random peooke on the street I’m pretty sure I could find a trend that Elvis is still alive.

Not to take anything away from the report but I think many of the points hold true to anyone that identifies as lesbian, gay or bisexual, particularly that you are straight until proven otherwise.

It is also worth noting that medical records are strictly confidential and the majority data is either protected by the Data Protection Act or the various codes of which each sector holds.  If these are in fear of being breached then we have more to worry about than discrimination.

Hierarchy of minorities

Do black and ethnic minority groups have a different take on homophobia? No doubt about it. You are dealing with small communities which thrive on a shared bond, small communities that are already marginalized, where if you act differently it can be perceived as a loss of ‘cultural’ identity.

It is a lose-lose situation – you cannot get the support you need from the state because service providers make assumptions and you cannot get the support from family for fear of homophobia. Recognition that these two aspects, whilst not mutually exclusive, do not necessarily co-exist is critical in understanding that ‘culturally appropriate services’ are not always appropriate.

But hold on, why is this issue of prejudice race specific? Intolerance is everywhere. Instead of trying to separate how we treat people based on race, how about we learn to not make assumptions about sexual orientation? How about we put the training in so that that everyone is treated with the same level of respect? People are complex creatures. That is true for every man and woman alive. That most organisations, including those in public services, strive so hard to standardize and simplify their methods of communicating with people seems to me to be the wrong approach.

So….

I think that the key point in the report is the need for a diverse range of role models. Of course, how you encourage visibility of such role models is another issue. Like every advancement in equality, we need strong leaders and people that are willing to stand up for their beliefs.

The irony is, this comes at a time when the Cabinet is reshuffling itself back into the Old Boys club. For the few LB women in the media there is a distinct lack of diverse representation. If we are not shown to be ethnically diverse how do we expect to encourage awareness and understanding let alone acceptance?

For all the critics that would stand up and say we are an equal nation I would ask them to read this report, read the news and really look at the world that we live in. Much work is still needed in the training of our public servants and whilst the battle for equal marriage is the forefront of our minds let it not distract us from the inequalities we face on a daily basis.

Whilst this report does go some way to recognise a hidden minority that are underrepresented we should not be tempted to segment our community.  We use the rainbow flag for a reason; we use it to show that we come in every shape, colour and creed and yet are united and most certainly proud.

1 Response to Racism? Homophobia? The issues facing those in a minority in a minority, in a minority…

  1. Nic says:

    Hi Katie Kane,

    Speaking as a BlackLes minority, I’m not sure you’ve hit the nail on the head. It seems to me that you’re demonstrating a lack of understanding of what it is like to be a racial minority and perhaps that isn’t allowing you to fully grasp and debunk the deeper, more complex consequences of this intersectionality. You’re close, but not there yet. Your argument seems to be rooted in assumptions but these assumptions are broad and generalizing still. It’s in opposition to the report

    But…

    it’s also far from the middle (reality).

    Nic

Katie Kane

Video

Do we still need pride?

Lesbilicious at Brighton Pride 2012 asking lots of people their opinions on whether or not we need pride.

September 2, 2012