I have experienced a general ignorance about racial and Indigenous issue in queer and femme communities, and an expectation that anti-racist activism be considered secondary to feminist, anti-homophobic and anti-femmephobic activism, when queer femmes of colour often experience our identities to be one holistic piece. It is an impossible request for a femme of colour to separate her experiences as a person of colour from her experiences as a femme or her experiences as a queer, and it is unreasonable to ask us to prioritise racism last simply because it is not something that affects white femmes. Significantly, this attitude promotes the idea that femme is an identity that cannot co-exist with an identity of colour, that one must choose between being a person of colour and being a femme, or that being femme is a “white thing”. This drives femmes of colour away from femme community, from femme organisations, and possibly away from femme itself as an identity and a self-label. If femme communities and organisations are to acknowledge and embrace the diversity that exists amongst femmes, we must make an effort to be deliberately inclusive, to work to have femme viewed as something other than a white identity, and to acknowledge that working against racism should be something done by everyone.
As a femme of colour who is read as white, I’ve experienced a lot of white queers simply misracialising me. Queers who know quite well that I’m Indigenous will ignore this fact, either through their own white privilege, through refusal to correct their ignorance of Indigenous issues, or through a kind of blindness where they cannot see past my skin. While recent years have seen an attempt by many Australian queer communities to address issues of internalised racism and become more inclusive of racially diverse members, they often still remain white centric and exclusionary to people of colour. The only answer to this is for every member of these communities to actively address inclusivity as a priority, to work at addressing their own internalised prejudices and biases, and to aim for a diverse community as an ultimate goal. I strongly encourage everyone here to take the time to read a little of the awareness-raising work being written by some of the amazing femmes of colour and other queer women of colour, even if most of it is coming out of the US, where there is a far more established femme of colour community than there is here. Hopefully we’ll start to see some homegrown voices soon.
- From Feministe, June 15