BIPoC Discrimination Seen Within Vancouver LGBTQ2+ Community

Written on 08/02/2021
Staff Columnist

Vancouver was painted all the colours of the rainbow flag this weekend as people celebrated LGBTQ2+ pride. Although the British Columbia city has been considered a liberal and forward place, some members of the queer community feel that racism is an added layer of judgement they face  — CBC News reported.

"It's white people who are the gatekeepers. They decide what's acceptable or not," said Sasha Mark, a Cree-Métis stand-up comedian and member of Vancouver's gay community.

"When we think of like nightclubs and clubs and spaces, a lot of folks feel really left out. And then also on the online world, especially on the queer dating apps, there is just a lot of blatant racism on those," he added.

Mark referenced Grindr — a popular LGBTQ2+ dating app that allows users to search for a mate based on race. He believes this enables people to be racist anonymously.

"It's just like an online place where people can say, you know, that I'm only attracted to these races — no femmes, no fat, no Asians... this is some of the language that is used online," said Mark.

A transgender activist named Norma Lize told CBC News that she too has faced a lot of online racism and fetishizing. In 2018, she moved to Vancouver from Lebanon as a refugee.

"You are something that, oh my gosh, we only think about in our dreams or in our fantasies," said Lize.

Mark said that being alienated or over-sexualized because of race can lead to long-lasting damage for Black, Indigenous, people of colour (BIPoC).

"It can leave you feeling insecure about, you know, who you are and your identity, and especially when it's so pervasive within the community," he said.

The coordinator of the Muslim queer group called Salaam, Imtiaz Popat, said the Vancouver LGBTQ2+ community and allies do not partake in discrimination, but it's still a problem.

"You have a situation where you can have abusive relationships because one has more power than the other, or you can have date rape, or you have missing men happening all over the place and murdered," said Popat.

"It's mostly people who are racialized or Indigenous or Black who are the ones who will end up missing," Popat continued, pointing out the historically tumultuous relationship between the police and the LGBTQ2+ community.

Marks hopes to see apps that offer safe spaces for queer people, minus the racial preferences or disparaging one another.

"The solution is for people to really have good conversations with themselves about racism," he said. "People need to really look into themselves and be like, 'Okay, I have racial bias, what are my racial biases and how do I act on them and why do I do this?'"

(Image Credit: Getty Images)