One experience of being part of the BIPOC LGBTQ+ community.
I have wanted to share this story for some time but felt uncomfortable for putting it out there for fear of embarrassment, and judgement from my friends, family and peers, but I’ve realised recently that my fear of being judged isn’t nearly as important as the truth of my experience being shared.
This desire to share was brought to light after watching a film recommended by my cousin called ‘The Watermelon Woman’ — directed by Cheryl Dunye. It’s about an aspiring black lesbian filmmaker who is searching for information on a black actress from the 1940’s (spoiler alert) and discovers through her research that this actress was in a lesbian relationship with the director of the movie.
The film goes on to research this more, and also why there is such a lack of historical information on the BIPOC LGBTQ+ community working in the creative field.
(This is a major spoiler alert. So if you intend on watching the film, I wouldn’t read on past this point until you do.)
What inspired me to want to share my personal experience is that the film highlighted how difficult it was to find historical information on the BIPOC LGBTQ+ community, so much so that the story itself was in-fact fictional. I was led to believe that ‘The Watermelon Woman’ was an actual woman who existed as a part of our lived history, but the film reveals at the end that she is made-up because there is so little history on BIPOC members of the LGBTQ+ community available.
This shocked and surprised me, and also drew me out of my self-conscious bubble to share my experience because I want future generations of the BIPOC LGBTQ+ community to reflect back and know that there are people in their history living comfortably within their sexuality and sexual identity — and that there is no reason to feel afraid or embarrassed about exploring your sexuality, and expressing your sexual identity — Whatever that is.
I only learnt in recent years that a sexual identity called ‘pansexuality’ even existed.
I had, from being a teenager, identified as being bisexual — because that was the only word available for me to use. But alongside men and women I have also had intimate, romantic and sexual experiences with people who identified as being transgender, and two-spirit – so finding out there was a sexual identity that didn’t discern between genders was liberating for me.
Attraction is always about individual expression. The biological form that that individual shows up in, is irrelevant to me.
I fall for people’s energy.
The way they move and speak, and carry themselves.
The confidence they have in their actions and their ability to move through life.
Physical appearance and gender have always felt secondary to that. I simply feel pulled, and passionately drawn towards particular individuals, and I don’t read into that feeling much beyond that.
Being married and in a committed relationship means that I don’t pull on sexual attractions outside of my relationship, but I still experience them, and I think being married — and still feeling attractions towards other people — has raised internal self-reflection around why attraction still happens and what these feelings mean when they arise.
I’ve asked myself questions like:
‘Why do I still identify as being part of the LGBTQ+ community if I’m contently married to a cis-gendered man? Wouldn’t it be easier to just tell people I’m straight?’
Well, I think I still express my sexual identity as a matter of principle, because being pansexual is still true for me.
Even though I am content in my relationship, I still experience feelings of attraction to people of all forms and gender identity. I don’t act on those impulses, but they’re still present, and so to call myself a heterosexual woman, even though I am in a heterosexual relationship, would be a lie.
Being mixed race and pansexual.
This is my experience. I was born a mixed race cis-gendered woman. I was born pansexual. I did not choose my colour. I do not choose who I feel sexually attracted to. These are qualities of my expression that I cannot change or control. Nor would I want to. I am here to be the expression of who I am in life— both in appearance and in character.
What feels natural for me to do is what feels natural for me to do, and I am no longer willing to put myself through feeling like I need to hide, shrink, deny or lie about who I am in order to alleviate anyone’s conditioned discomfort around me and who I am.
Brené Brown spoke to this so beautifully in one of her videos about fitting in.
I can’t remember her exact wording, but to paraphrase it she said something along the lines of — I can no longer deny my true self in order to fit in. Because in denying myself I may fit in with you, and your idea of who I should be, but I will have betrayed myself, and that is a betrayal I am no longer willing to accept or tolerate.
In my experience, I have found that being in the BIPOC community added another layer of conditional bullshit onto being pansexual. Being mixed race has meant that I have felt this unspoken expectation to fit in with the white male perspective of how society should be. By being mixed race I am already considered different from the majority, and so add being pansexual on top of that – it’s just another form of ‘different’ that the mainstream patriarchal heterosexual euro-centric view of society has to come to terms with. Being that my survival has been dependent on social systems, in the past, it was easier for me to try and fit in than it was to be the unique individual that I am – and to accept that I may stand out from what is considered to be the ‘norm’.
I also found the BIPOC Community to be less accepting of my pansexual identification— I assume it’s because there are so few available historical references and known BIPOC LGBTQ+ role models in history that it’s difficult for people from these communities to see outside of the conditioned social parameters that being white, straight and cis-gendered is the ‘norm’ that we should all be striving to work towards.
As I’ve come to realise, nature doesn’t function in that way.
There is no ‘norm’ or ‘standard’ of how we all should look, act and be.
There is who we are and there is what feels natural for us to do.
All else we perceive around that is created by thought.
Expectations and judgements are not solid.
The lens through which we view reality is tangible and malleable — infinitely.
Our expectations, conditioning and judgements are never fixed in place by nature. Therefore we do not need to live by them when we see that they are not supportive of life expressing itself as a whole.
Life is what it is.
Nature is what it is.
People are who they are, and love who they love.
Our perceptions of that will be what they will be, but as individuals, we don’t have to live by the perceptions, judgements or expectations of others.
We are free to be the expression of life that we are — beyond any expectations of who we think we should be.
Lots of love, Shaneen.