The history of the Asian, African and Caribbean communities in the United Kingdom

The history of the Asian, African and Caribbean communities in the United Kingdom 

HOMOPHOBIA IN THE ASIAN, AFRICAN AND CARIBBEAN COMMUNITIES

Men were more likely than women to cite homophobia as the main type of discrimination that they had experienced (29% of men compared to 17% of women), whereas women were more likely to cite racism (55% of women compared to 35% of men). This links up with an earlier point that male respondents are less likely to come out to families, friends and work colleagues, which may be due to a fear of experiencing further homophobia. 

DISCRIMINATION

More than half the sample, 57%, had experienced homophobia from the Asian African and Caribbean communities. People of mixed heritage backgrounds (80%) and Black respondents (61%) were more likely than Asian people (48%) to say this. This ties in with the fact that Black and mixed heritage respondents were also more likely to be open about their sexuality.

Most of the experiences included name-calling, verbal abuse and general homophobic comments. A significant proportion (19% of those experiencing homophobia from the Asian African and Caribbean communities) said that homosexuality was taboo in their communities. Some people mentioned that there was an ongoing ignorance within the communities that Asian African and Caribbean people could be gay, but, as indicated in the previous section this ignorance is demonstrated by white LGB communities and mainstream society too.

NAME-CALLING/VERBAL ABUSE:

Lesbian of mixed heritage, 30-39 years
When I came out to my friend at college he said God would punish me. I have also been spat at by a stranger whilst walking with my girlfriend. 

Caribbean Gay man, 30-39 years
I could write a book. Names like battyman and faggot have been shouted at me in the streets. In face-to-face settings, it’s a lot more middle class and insidious, ‘Are you married yet? Look at my sons wedding pictures, he has a baby daughter now you know!’ 

HOMOSEXUALITY IS UNMENTIONABLE:

African Gay man, 20-29 years
Homosexuality is a taboo… I am always ostracised as soon as people from Asian, African and Caribbean backgrounds know about my sexuality.

 

Caribbean Bisexual female, 20-29 years
They tell you it is wrong from a Biblical perspective. 

DISCRIMINATION

Respondents’ comments support a need to address homophobia in Asian African and Caribbean communities. However, any campaign would also need to address that white heterosexuals can be homophobic too – and that homophobia is not just a problem within the Asian African and Caribbean communities. However these communities have traditionally been faith-based and religion still plays a large part in their lives. Many religions, including Islam and Christianity consider homosexuality taboo.

In order to break down barriers, BLGB workers need to build links with sympathetic individuals in religious communities so that they can raise awareness of the specific needs of the BLGB communities and the discrimination that they encounter. In doing this they could: 

Address why Asian African and Caribbean communities consider homosexuality a taboo and how this belief has developed; 

Highlight the varied and rich histories of the BLGB communities; 

Build links with the discrimination faced by Asian African and Caribbean communities and the BLGB experience of homophobia. 

USE OF SERVICES 

RESPONDENTS WERE ASKED ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES OF USING A WIDE RANGE OF SERVICES: 

Mainstream services. 

Lesbian Gay and Bisexual services. 

Black Lesbian Gay and Bisexual services. 

The majority of respondents had used mainstream services, including health services, counselling, and advice services.

Most of the respondents did not use services targeted at the LGB community, (or those targeted specifically at BLGB people), preferring to use mainstream ones.

The LGB media (such as The Pink, Diva, G3 and internet services such as Queercompany and Gingerbeer) were used by 34% of the respondents, with 79% finding them useful. 

USE OF SERVICES

People stated why they already prefer to use BLGB services or would use BLGB services if they were available:

BECAUSE IT GIVES ONE A SENSE OF COMMUNITY:

Indian Gay man, 20-29 years
It is useful to share thoughts with other like-minded individuals. The Asian community not only has the social phobia associated with being gay but I also have to deal with peer pressure, which in most cases is harder to deal with. Some other communities may not understand what kind of pressure it is. 

BECAUSE IT SUPPORTS ONES SENSE OF IDENTITY:

Indian Bisexual man, under 20 years
Because you feel you are not the only one with the same problem 

African Caribbean Lesbian, 40-49 years
I feel more comfortable with a group or service that understands my sexuality and my culture/colour BECAUSE OF ACISM/DISCRIMINATION: 

Lesbian, ethnicity not specified, 40-49 years
Because I don’t have to explain obvious things and I don’t have to deal with racism.

Lesbian of mixed heritage, 30-39 years
Black Lesbians and Gay men’s needs are distinct from their white counterparts as we suffer discrimination in a twofold manner (homophobia/racism).

 

RE – Edited by Black Members Rep Proud

Training by GALLOP 

EDITED BY JAY IN 2012

 


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ISSUES FOR BME LGBT people part 2

DISCRIMINATION 

Respondents were questioned about their experiences of different types of discrimination: racism, sexism or homophobia.

RACISM IN THE LESBIAN, GAY AND BISEXUAL COMMUNITIES

More than half the sample, 57%, said that they had experienced racism from the white LGB communities. A number of respondents said that the LGB community was no different from mainstream communities when it came to racism. The types of experiences varied

FACED WITH INDIFFERENCE OR AN UNWELCOMING RESPONSE:

African Caribbean Lesbian, 30-39 years
We went to a women’s holiday centre in Yorkshire. I thought it would be welcoming but the reception was cool. I felt that only white check shirt wearing lesbians were really welcome – the whole weekend felt more of a toleration of us rather than the warm welcome we had expected. 

African man, sexuality not specified, 20-29 years
People have the tendency to make you feel ‘outside’, when the community should be inclusive.

BEING DEALT WITH IN A STEREOTYPICAL WAY:

African Caribbean Gay man, 40-49 years
I have been sought out in a club and asked where drugs are available. 

DISCRIMINATION – THE LOW DOWN

Mauritius Lesbian, 30-39 years
Most lesbian clubs are geared to white people. If there are more than 10 black lesbians the security becomes more visible. Certain music is not played, as they don’t want to attract black lesbians. Went to one bar near closing time, a member of staff said the bar was closed but they had just let some other people in.

NAME-CALLING AND VERBAL ABUSE:

Black Gay man, 20-29 years
Someone I liked in a club said they didn’t want to talk to me because I was black. 

Indian Lesbian, 20-29 years
At LGB conferences/workshops someone always brings up how homophobic Islam is. People feel justified in being racist because they are gay and believe that all black people are homophobic. 

BEING TREATED AS A SEX OBJECT OR EXOTICALLY:

African Gay man, 30-39 years
White gay men treat me with contempt; I’m either a sex object or I’m invisible. 

LACK OF AWARENESS OF LGBT BME NEEDS:

Lesbian of mixed heritage, 30-39 years
Lack of facilities/entertainment venues/acknowledgement of our differences – assumptions that we are all the same. 

African Caribbean Lesbian 40-49 years
Generally white lesbians do not see a difference in our needs and so do not cater for us either socially (venues, music, food, events) or politically (need for our own spaces, support groups etc) 

RECOMMENDATIONS

LGB projects and venues should address racism through training and awareness raising of both staff and users. Issues such as the following need to be challenged and addressed: 

Cultural/Religious Traditions/Islamaphobia 

Racism/Discrimination 

Assumptions and Stereotyping


Training by GALLOP and survey details by GALLOP

EDITED down BY JAY IN 2012

issues for BME lgb people

 

 

IDENTITY AND COMING OUT 

Indian Gay man, 20-29 years
I am not open about my sexuality at home with my parents or other members of my family, as the topic tends to be Taboo, something that is not spoken of. Although I have come out to my parents, they seem to be in denial.

Asian respondents also cited a lack of parental understanding of sexuality issues in general, as a reason for not coming out to their families.

Indian Lesbian, 20-29 years
My parents would not understand. I think they may know but I would not explicitly tell them, unless I had too.

REACTIONS TO COMING OUT

Those respondents that did come out to family, friends and colleagues generally found the reaction to be positive or neutral, but this was mainly because respondents tended to be open to people whom they judged would react in this way.

Caribbean Asian Lesbian, 30-39 years
When I came out to my parents there was lots of disbelief. Dad always thought I would get married, but is now resigned to it. Mum knows and accepts me for whom I am. 

Gay man of mixed heritage, 20-29 years
I tell people if I feel comfortable with them and if it is relevant to our acquaintance. I’ve never told anybody who reacted in a very negative way but I basically know how they will react before I tell them. 

African man, sexuality not specified, under 20 years
I don’t talk about sexuality. In past my mother used to pray for me – now she is happier because I am less flamboyant about my sexuality.

IDENTITY AND COMING OUT RECOMMENDATIONS

There is a need to set up external support mechanisms for the BLGB communities. The Naz Project co-ordinates a support group, KISS, for South Asian and Middle Eastern, lesbian and bisexual women. The group ran in Hammersmith and Fulham for a year before it went London wide in March 1999. The group has over 140 women on its mailing list and the monthly KISS meetings held at The Glass Bar attract on average between 35/40 women.

Asian female respondents spoke about why they enjoyed attending the KISS group, the benefits they received from attending and how the group could be developed further.

Pakistani Lesbian 20-29 years
It is comforting to know that KISS exists. 

Caribbean Asian Lesbian, 30-39 years
KISS is brilliant for meeting Asian women, feeling safe. It’s not cruisey/scene based and I can talk about issues. 

Indian female, sexuality not specified, 20-29 years
The KISS group is very important. But it is not funded; volunteers run it. It could do with telephone/volunteer led Counseling. Financial and formal support would help so that Asian women coming out could talk to Asian female counsellors. 

The above responses point to a need for support groups to be set up where LBGT BME people can explore and address the coming out. 

IDENTITY AND COMING OUT THE LOW DOWN

Experience and begin to come to terms with sexuality issues in relation to their families and friends.

Research should be undertaken to evaluate its impact.

Black Minority Ethnic (BME), BLGB and LGB organizations need to consider developing support groups for the BLGB communities. 

Links between schools and LGB youth workers/Organizations need to be developed. 

All senior teachers need to be committed to tackling homophobia in schools. 

LGB agencies/Schools need to look at how the Citizenship Curriculum can be used to explore homophobia and sexuality issues in schools.

RE – Edited by Black Members Rep Proud

Training material above and survey by GALLOP 

EDITED BY JAY IN 2012