2SBIPOC Corner

Pride PEI 2S-BIPOC Advisory Committee

Nearing the end of 2019, the 2Spirit Black and Indigenous People of Colour (2SBIPOC) Advisory Committee for Pride PEI met for the first time. We are a five-person committee, made up of folks from various backgrounds. Individually, we all applied to take part in advising the Pride board on how to improve the organization and work on making it safer for 2SBIPOC community members. The purpose of the 2S-BIPOC Advisory Committee is to provide direction, advice, and recommendations to the Pride PEI Board of Directors on how Pride PEI can actively engage, include, and support the safety of its 2S-BIPOC membership to ensure the organization meets, and surpasses, its mission, “to uplift and centre the voices of our most marginalized members”. We look forward to being integral in the future of Pride PEI and look forward to making it an organization that is welcoming to all people.

Testimonials Compiled by the Pride PEI 2S-BIPOC Advisory Committee

While a major aspect of this committee is to carve out spaces within the LGBTQ+ community that are safer for 2SBIPOC community members, before we can fully do that there must be a deeper understanding of the experiences of our 2SBIPOC peers. An aspect of this includes reaching out to our S2BIPOC queer friends outside of the advisory committee to hear from them what their experiences in PEI are walking the intersections of sexuality, gender, and race.

Below are some of the responses we received:

Below are a few questions we asked a member of the community to answer. He wished to remain anonymous.

  1. Can you speak to your experience as a person of colour or being read as a POC within the queer community?

I’ve always been aware of my place in the world as a black man. It’s hard to be black and it’s even more hard to be black and be a part of the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve never felt ashamed though, to be gay. Like I have always been proud to be me and I’ve always been accepted as me. But I do think that some people let black gay boys “pass” because they’re stereotyped as feminine. Which can be a bad thing in some cases but sometimes, it gives you perspective on what non-queer people perceive us as.

  1. How do you feel about the current queer community on PEI?

I don’t have an in depth understanding of the queer community because I only came out a year ago, but from what I can see, people are trying to do their best to make it a more inclusive space. Coming from a point in My life where I’ve seen how the black community bands together, it’s cool to know that the queer community on Price Edward Island is doing the work to be better.

  1. Do you feel the whiteness of the current queer community on PEI has affected your involvement?

Yes, but not in a negative way. It’s made me notice that I can be a voice for people if they need me to be. I know that it’s hard, especially for people of colour to always stand by and watch the “white world” pass by. But I know that there’s so much work to be done and I want to be more involved in that work.

  1. Have you ever felt the need to sacrifice your ethnic culture to be queer?

Not for me specifically because I’m not very in tune with my family’s culture. However I do know that many people do feel the need to drop their culture to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community because of either internalized homophobia or blatant homophobia within that specific culture. But I do know that I have pretended to be not gay so that I could keep my family from dealing with the reprecussions. Some people just feel the need to hide the fact that they are queer to keep the peace from the pressure of outside people.

  1. How do you identify (pronouns, within the queer community and ethnically)?

I am a gay black man and my pronouns are he/him.

  1. Things you wish you could tell yourself when you were 10.

I wish I could tell myself that just because people treat you differently doesn’t mean that they’ll always treat you differently. Life takes time for people to understand that difference is important and necessary.

-Anonymous, Black Gay Man

While being born and raised on PEI has allowed me to walk around with a lot of privilege in many different spaces, being a woman of colour, even in “safer” spaces, can still be challenging because I am the only visible minority around. While I still attend queer events, and I love the growth of the visibility of the queer community here on PEI, I don’t always feel truly comfortable in majority white spaces. But I do look forward to seeing what kind of 2SBIPOC spaces we can create on PEI and how we can continue to make Pride PEI an organization for all.

-Anonymous, Afro-Latinx Queer Woman

I was always under the impression that being mixed meant that I was “less” of a person of colour. That because I was half white I couldn’t lay claim to the part of me that wasn’t white, which is the only part of me that other people seem to see. I’ve since gotten the chance to grow and mature and realize that my identity is mine. No-one else can tell me what I can and can’t do, who I am or who I’m not. I can be strong but that doesn’t mean that I have to sacrifice who I am or the ways I was raised to fit into a societal box. I love being pan and I love being mixed.

-Karissa, Biracial Pansexual Woman

“An experience that I have regularly is that I’m perceived as white so people feel (white folks in particular) that it’s a safe space to make racist or prejudiced comments in my presence or directly to me. It’s hurtful, but I don’t always feel safe enough to say anything, especially when they are directing racist comments about indigenous people. Because I’m very much coded white and I grew up off reserve, I deal with imposter syndrome because of it.”

– Anonymous. Queer Indigenous Woman

“My name is Bianca García and I am from the Dominican Republic. I am Afro-Caribbean and bisexuall. I came out in 2019 after a great rebellion with myself, I was afraid to tell the world what I feel as a woman, but at the same time it was a moment of relief and a lot of tranquility. I was born in a country where being a woman is very difficult and more if you are queer. My friends are always joking with me, saying that I liked girls but I always denied. It is a country where the queer community is affected and attacked every day and I did not have the courage to tell my friends “Yes I like girls but I also like boys”. Love is love my friends! Currently, the Dominican Republic has changed a lot, it is more open to this reality, even from my circles of friends, there are about 6 that have come out as Queer as well. In 2013 I participated in World Youth in Brazil with Pope Francis. At the meeting he said in front of 3 million young people from around the world, “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to criticize them?”. As Catholic at that time and trying to figure out myself, it was a real surprise to discover a Pope who preaches that we must “integrate gays into society.” From that moment my life changed completely. I began to discover myself and it has been a beautiful transition. I am very proud of the PEI community that has accepted me as I am and respects me. I am Afro-Caribbean, Latin and I am very proud to be bixesual.”

-Bianca García, Afro-Caribbean, Latinx Bisexual Woman