OPINION | Intersectionality for Queer Students of Color

The more marginalized groups you’re in, the harder it is to find someone to relate to. While the internet exists, talking to others online and seeing other people like you get to express themselves and live their lives is painful. Even more painful is going online and seeing someone like you whose life got cut short.

On campus, especially as a new student, everything already feels new, and that can bring some fear with it. Along with that comes the realization that you are one of two or three students of color in a single classroom, and of those students, how many of them are queer? How many of them are neurodivergent, disabled, or chronically ill? How many of them have the same experience and ideals with religion? 

“When you don’t have your group, it can feel overwhelming because there’s a lot of people on campus that don’t share the same ideals or that are openly racist and/or homophobic,” said Alaia West, a queer biracial woman. “You can’t really express yourself as much because… you represent the whole community versus just representing yourself.”

Even finding someone who shares one marginalized identity can still end in strife. Within the queer community, many people—myself included—have felt like the people represented the most were overwhelmingly white people.

This picture is paired with the last link. The green states are states that ban the gay/trans panic defense in law. The yellow states are those states that have no laws against the gay/trans panic defense.

“People may be more accepting towards LGBT, but they’re not really as accepting towards race,” said Adriana Deya, a Puerto Rican lesbian and nursing major. “They will try to say that it’s their preference, but I feel like it could be some type of racism where they find out that you’re not actually white, [and] they suddenly see you as lesser than or just don’t wanna date you.”

Many times, it can feel like when people say they have a “preference”, what they really mean is that they have a requirement. On the other side of that, some white queers that do date queer POCs treat it like they should be earning a trophy for it or treat dating a POC as a sexuality in and of itself. Flaunting attraction to queer POCs can cross the line of appreciation into fetishization, so when most of the campus can feel dangerous, it leaves you feeling hesitant to make friends let alone date. 

When writing this, I hoped to share an experience that is often overlooked and find experiences similar to my own. The most telling aspect of this was being asked if I had to take pictures or if I had to put real names in this—for the latter, I do. There were experiences shared with me that I can’t repeat because of the fear of safety, of being outed to family and unfriendly strangers, and of lack of confidence in how ready they were to express themselves. 

Being in a room filled with mostly white people is not uncommon on campus, but that does not excuse the comments, nor the lack of defense. A student announcing to the entire class that, though their religion says that queer people will go to hell, they still choose to treat queer people like people should not be accepted. Telling a POC how they should feel about an event or experience should not be accepted. Most of all, seeing it or hearing it happen should not be accepted because the very same queer POC who see it happen may stay silent for their own safety. So the next time you hear something that sounds off, especially if you have the privilege to, please speak up for those who fear that they’ll be the next victim to pop up in the news.

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