On Queer Politics and Community
BY CHANNY NGUYEN
The corporate-sponsored gentrification of Pride has led to increased feelings of alienation and disillusionment in LGBTQIA communities and queer people are reminded once more that Pride was a protest. But what exactly are we protesting? Is it really such a surprise that a liberation movement, once absorbed into the system is sanitised, depoliticised, and turned into a parade-spectacle of homocapitalism, awash with rainbow stamps of approval by queer-friendly mortgages, deodorant, and hamburgers? Now that less of us are out of the closet, those with the financial mobility become just another marketable demographic – I guess that is the real meaning behind ‘equality’ in capitalism. Diversify the market, expand your capital base. In the neoliberal state, the prescriptive solution is inclusion. Queer the military, queer marriage and queer your corporation. Enhance harmful structures and institutions with membership, superficial reform and diverse participation. Now we challenge white supremacy in the queer community with token people of colour. How many QTIPOC can we use to enhance our image and deflect from critical self-reflection?
Depoliticisation breeds demobilisation and individualisation of responsibility. We are the products that we buy, the votes that we cast and our chosen charity donations. Our civic responsibility ends there. A package of easy morality brought to you by local and transnational NGOs and their professionalised career activists – at a 9-5 desk job doing admin treating the communities they nurture as ‘clients’ and ‘patients’. And it is to those people we are led to for support, when austerity cuts and structural inequalities affect our communities, deflecting the state’s responsibility towards its citizens – processing what should be birth rights (sustenance, access to housing, education, healthcare etc) as acts of charity.
Brighton QTIPOC Narratives Collective started as a space for queer people of colour to gather and process their place in a whitewashed, normative world and is steadily constructing a social imaginary based on communal spirit and collective responsibility amidst the incessant messages of self-help, self-care, and self-inadequacy issued by neoliberalism’s pundits.
‘Organising’ like an Ecosystem
BY VEN PALDANO
Being the new kids on the block, we did not expect to be grappling so soon with how to convert radical politics and ‘wokeness’ into a movement hell-bent on collapsing systems of domination, like capitalism, heteropatriarchy and white supremacy.
It has been quite a journey since forming our collective in April; the events and collaborations have made many of us question the meaning of ‘community organising’ and if a wad of cash is truly a necessity. All too often we can be hypnotised by messages of slick homogenised marketing, into believing that only corporate-type ventures have the stamina to create change.
In reality, it takes our focus away from spreading a message and allowing us to share responsibility to enact the changes we want to see. Maybe the solution is much simpler than ‘the man’ would have us believe; possibly to learn from nature and how it handles its own communities as ecosystems. Organising as an ecosystem where every being is relevant and equal, in order to create a fluid dynamic centred on wellbeing.
Resisting Tokenism and Assimilationist Practices
BY LAZY RAINE
There are many barriers in grassroots organising, especially for QTIPOC. A huge barrier is funding. Although money is a difficult topic in community organising, it’s no secret that living is expensive, and accessibility, in particular, costs. Adequately serving your communities means not just meeting their varied needs, but truly enriching their lives; this usually necessitates funding.
Obtaining funds is something QTIPOC frequently struggle with, for a multitude of reasons and we often feel we need to turn to monied governing bodies, bodies which are overwhelmingly white. This can ultimately mean having to shrink yourself so as not to upset their (don’t panic! Only racist in private) decision makers.
Liberal groups with somewhat similar aims have offered funding/space to sell our zine. But these offers routinely turn out to simply be an exercise in tokenisation or an effort to advance their own position as pioneers in social thought, rather than helping members of our community. Protracted contact with more powerful others, reveals disingenuous efforts to use us as a ‘brown-but-silent-and-compliant’ image booster.
There is the illusion of being valued, but the illusion is all that is being offered, and we are expected to be grateful. In reality, there is a huge space between speaking and being heard. Permitting people of colour to speak but not valuing our words is a pacification tool. We do not just need to talk. We need what we say to count; to matter and move and be heard. That will never happen while we are viewed as a convenient tick on a checklist and not treated as people who are trying to create and change; whilst fighting to keep our own heads above water and mend those of us who are breaking.
We are not a queer, genderfucking, brown face to tick all of those diversity boxes. Our work is important, whether or not we receive recognition from white society. It takes a lot of our labour, but we are capable of networking and building sustainable movements. We do ourselves a disservice when we bend beyond recognition for others. Ultimately, it is our own community connections and determination to thrive for ourselves and our siblings that sustains our activism.
QTIPOC Narratives Collective demands more than performative allyship, we do not dance for dollars, or smile on cue, we do not exist to boost other’s social currency; we are beautifully and exclusively ours.
LGBTQIA – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual
An umbrella term for any non-heteronormative group is queer, depending on self-identification.
Queer, Trans, Intersex People of Colour