Get SMART with iCHAT’s #FirstPerson stories highlight personal experiences and articles from the LBGT / QPOC young adult community.
#FirstPerson Story as shared by E, a 19-year-old who is a QPOC (Queer Person of Color):
Let me introduce myself, my name is E, yes that’s right just E. I am 19, brown and queer. Every morning I am faced with the fact that just by existing I face obstacles most of my other peers never have to go through. Queer People of Color (QPOC) face many struggles. We can encounter challenges, feeling as if we are “other” within the Queer community AND within communities of color, yet these differences can be totally separate from each other. On the other hand these “issues” or feelings of “otherness” may also intersect at some points, creating new, isolated differences.
Forced to Choose Between Identities
QPOC frequently feel as if they must choose between their ethnic community and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans (LGBT) community because they experience discrimination within both. For both religious and cultural reasons, ethnic minorities can be less accepting of sexual orientations other than heterosexuals and the coming out process of QPOC often differs greatly from most LGBT people. The families of QPOC face unique challenges as well, with language and cultural barriers keeping many from the support and resources they might need. Even within the LGBT community, which should be most accepting of QPOC based on shared sexual orientation, QPOC often feel marginalized. It is not uncommon for QPOC to report feeling invisible within the one community they wish to be a part of. In fact, for many who identify as QPOC a racist society, ostracism from the GLBT community and feelings of being alone.
At its most extreme form, this discrimination may contribute to increased risk of HIV infection among young gay men of color, some of whom may engage in high-risk behavior in order to feel accepted by the predominately white gay community. For others, these feelings may lead to other risk-taking behaviors i.e. substance abuse (drugs, alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs), suicide, self-harm, homelessness, depression, etc. All of these behaviors can stem from lowered self-esteem, ostracism and the feeling of being alone.
How to Support QPOC Youth
Young QPOC are often at great risk for many of these feelings and behaviors and so it is imperative that these youth receive immediate support. Some things that individuals or groups can do to support these young people include:
- Providing special services such as support groups or counseling for youth who identify as QPOC
- Creating safe space in agencies, schools and homes for young QPOC
- Vigilantly redress prejudice and homophobia whenever it arises
- Educating our communities (both LGBT and communities of color) about issues that pertain to QPOC
- Advocating for the health of QPOC patients