Okay, so what is intersectionality and how can I be intersectional?
Intersectionality is a term used to show how different aspects of people’s identities such as; race, gender, class, sexual orientation, religion, ability, age, language, culture, (the list could go on) do not and cannot exist separately.
When we’re talking about LGBTQ+ issues, this is so important. The LGBTQ+ movement often over-represents white people. Now, this isn’t to say white people don’t have a space, because they do.
BUT, we have to remember that queerness exists in all contexts, all over the world in all different shapes, sizes and colours. Everyone experiences queerness differently and no one person’s experience is the same and we need to see this more!
When we see just one representation of LGBTQ+ identities, it erases the diversity within this community. In the UK, we need to see more queer people of colour being given a platform.
This is so important – because if you are queer, and a person of colour, you have to battle racism on one hand, and homophobia on the other. This is not an issue white people experience, and it’s vital that white people within the LGBTQ+ community recognise this, and start addressing it now.
This is why intersectionality is important. Intersectionality helps us understand the different intersecting systems of privilege and oppression that exist.
Let’s unpack these two terms…
Privilege means you benefit from a system which doesn’t oppress you because of your skin colour, your gender, your sexuality, your class position etc. So, a heterosexual, cis-gendered, white man benefits from this system than a lesbian cis-gendered white woman – but she benefits more from the system than a transgender woman from a minority background.
Oppression is the opposite of privilege. It means you are unfairly and disproportionality targeted because of your skin colour, your gender, your sexuality, your class position etc. So, a homosexual, transwoman of colour faces many more obstacles within these systems of privilege and oppression.
Intersectionality allows us to see the connections between fights. LGBTQI+ issues aren’t separate from Black Lives Matter issues, which can’t be fought without feminism. If you’re a queer, black woman, you don’t identify with one. You identify with all three.
Intersectionality and checking your privilege isn’t about individual people. It’s about the institutions of oppression; racism, classism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia etc.
These systems of oppression have been upheld by those who don’t want them to change. They do this by using the age-old tactic of Divide and Conquer.
This is why intersectionality matters. By understanding these forms of oppression, recognising your privilege, and understanding that all struggles are connected means we can no longer be divided and conquered.
That’s pretty radical, if you ask me.