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Leefstyl | Lifestyle > Gay > Rubrieke | Columns > Christina Engela: Fundamentally Speaking

Who Are We? Why Are We Here?

Christina Engela - 2010-10-27

I sat down this morning wondering what our community is all about. I'm thinking about the Pink Community of course. Pink, because of the confusing array of acronyms we apply to describe ourselves, that almost always put some sub-groups before others, and invariably leave someone out. Pink, because of our association with the feminine, with the notion that we break the boundaries set for us by society, and because it flies in the face of some beliefs that pink represents weakness and inferiority – an idea some are growing to realise is not the case at all.

Who does our community include? Well, anyone who breaks the stereotype, any person who does not feel the terms straight and cisgender describe them. Anyone who does not fit into the neat, ordered little pigeonholes designated for them by a straight, patriarchal society that decrees males shall behave like this, and females shall know their place, and behave like this, and be subservient to the male. It includes anyone who does not feel comfortable with these designated roles and refuses to accept having them forced on them, being more inclined to fight for their freedom and equality.

The Pink Community is a persecuted and marginalised community which faces difficulties not only in the sense of gaining civil rights around the world, but also in terms of gaining equal treatment and respect as human beings in the home, school and the workplace. The Pink Community does not have room for divisions and for those who create the impression that certain sub-groups within the community have a greater need for civil rights and equality than the others. It does not have room for groups and individual leadership figures who fight for their own group's rights and equality while downplaying or even sabotaging the rights gains of other groups within the community.

Many refer to our combined movement as the Gay Community – but we are not the Gay Community, because we're not all gay. Some of us are bi, trans or intersex. And some of us are combinations of the above. Our defining characteristic is our diversity – and non-conformity. To push some of our number aside and advance solely the cause of others because of this diversity, doesn't make sense from the point of view of cohesion, equality and community building.

Regardless of all this, we stand together because we have common differences from the straight "hetero-normative" society we live in. We stand together because we have common needs, such as the need for legal protection from bigotry and homophobic and transphobic (let's call them xenophobic) attacks and persecution. We have common needs for social and civil and legal equality. The tiny differences which exist between us do not justify our turning our backs on the broader Pink Community to reduce our overall number and weaken the timbre of our collective voice as a political entity fighting for our human rights and equality.

Some groups and individuals do just that. They focus solely on one particular interest group, most typically their own, and then not only promote just their interests while ignoring the interests of the others but also attack and even sabotage the efforts of the other groups to their own advantage.

This is not the behaviour of an ally. This is not the behaviour of a friend.

It costs nothing for a GLB group to include trans people and intersex people in the fight to gain equality for our whole community. It costs nothing for a trans group to include GLB people in their fight for equality of the broader community. After all, how many people who identify as gay or bi are also transgender or intersex? How many transgender or intersex people identify as bi or gay?

I hope this simple example will clear up this little misunderstanding between these groups (they know who they are) and encourage them to stand together and act in mutual support in future, instead of acting like a bunch of spoilt brat children fighting over who gets to go first.

If they do not listen, we as one community should give them a smack on the bottom and encourage them to hold hands and take us through the door of freedom and equality together.