What is intersectionality?
We can think about intersectionality in many different ways. Many people have spoken and written on the subject. Another angry woman writes that being a person with an intersectional identity is like standing in the middle of the road being hit by cars from many sides. Roshan das Nair speaks about his birthday party as being in the middle of many different circles of friends and family who seldom overlap. In many ways we ALL feel like both of these descriptions at different times. We all have different aspects of our identities. We all have different sides of ourselves. But we are not all protected by UK law in the same way.
A gay man has to deal with homophobia. A black man has to deal with racism. But a black gay man will have to deal with homophobia and racism (often at the same time). It is often the case that he will face racism inside the LGBT community and homophobia in the black community.
Similarly, a disabled lesbian Muslim will have to deal with ableism, homophobia, Islamophobia, racism and sexism. She might find physical barriers to accessing LGBT venues, but even when she can get into the building she might still face racism and Islamophobia from the white LGBT community.
Having an intersectional identity often generates a feeling that someone does not completely belong in one group or another, and can lead to isolation, depression and other mental health issues.
Including Intersectional Identities
The exclusion and erasure of intersectional people from our communities is reflected in service provision. Often LGBT-focused organisations have little knowledge of, for example, race issues. This can lead to racism attitudes and practices carried by staff and other service users remaining unchecked, thus creating an unsafe space for a minority ethnic LGBT person who wants to access the services.
Our intersectional work is aimed at helping organisations become more inclusive of all their service users and respect every part of their identity. We work with a variety of organisations with diverse expertise, exchange awareness-raising sessions, and speak to intersectional service users. This extensive partnership work reveals that there are many ways to be inclusive without spending any extra money and that learning to be inclusive of people with complex identities benefits every service user.
Our Intersectional Projects
Disabled LGBT people out to access more inclusive services
Scotland’s Minority Ethnic LGBT Project