The Intersection of LGBTQ+ and POC

Close up portrait of young queer person against pink background,Port Elizabeth,South Africa

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Most everyone is aware of the discrimination that LGBTQ+ people and people of color face. However, many people don't realize the compounded life challenges a person faces when they are both LGBTQ+ and POC. That's because they deal with the societal challenges of being LGBTQ+ and the challenges of being of color. They may be subjected to both homophobia and racism simultaneously or at different times throughout life.

Though conversations about the experiences of people who occupy both of these minorities aren't widespread, it's surprisingly common for people to fall under both identity umbrellas: 42% of people in the United States who identify as LGBTQ+ are also POC. That's nearly half of the LGBTQ+ population.

Ahead, learn about what it means to be both LGBTQ+ and a person of color and how you can consider a new way of thinking that can support people who are LGBTQ+ and POC.

What Is LGBTQ+?

This acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer or questioning. The plus sign at the end is a signifier for the additional identities that also fall under the umbrella. Those include intersex, asexual, two-spirit, non-binary, and more. LGBTQ+ people are people who either are not heterosexual, people who are not cisgender, or both.

What Is POC?

POC stands for people of color, and a person of color isn't White or isn't only White. They can be of any racial background outside of Caucasian, such as Black, Latino, or Asian. A person of color can also be multiracial, and their background can include White lineage and lineage(s) from other races.

A person of color may be identifiable as coming from their lineage, or they may be racially ambiguous, which is often the case for those who are multiracial.

What Is a Multiple Minority?

A multiple minority is a person who falls under more than one umbrella minority category. LGBTQ+ and POC together are one example. Other examples of people who would be considered a multiple minority are someone who is Black and disabled, or a person who is disabled and queer (even if they're White).

The term multiple minority is most commonly used to describe people who are more than one of the following: LGBTQ+, POC, or disabled.

The Life Experiences of LGBTQ+ POC

Now that you understand what it means to be of color and LGBTQ+, you may be wondering how this affects a person. Let's examine the various ways in which being these multiple minorities often impacts a person's life.

Living as a Multiple Minority

The two biggest challenges of being both LGBTQ+ and a person of color are being subjected to racism and homophobia. It can seem more complex than the usual forms of discrimination because either can happen within your own culture, rather than only being discriminated against from other cultures.

Research shows that people who are LGBTQ+ and POC experience more microaggressions than their single-minority counterparts.

Additionally, youth who are LGBTQ+ and POC face many additional challenges over youth who are only LGBTQ+ or POC. They are statistically less likely to be out to their families, more likely to have low self-esteem, more likely to be depressed, and have an elevated HIV risk.

Racism in LGBTQ Culture

People who are LGBTQ+ and of color may not find the LGBTQ+ community as welcoming as one would anticipate. White supremacy does exist in some LGBTQ+ areas of society. Even in queer, liberal havens such as San Francisco, racism within the LGBTQ+ community is a problem.

LBGTQ+ POC community members in San Francisco note that they are less likely to have health insurance or access to health care, are more likely to experience homelessness, and encounter racism on dating apps.

Homophobia in POC Communities

In the same vein as POC who are LGBTQ+ can experience racism within the queer community, people of color may experience homophobia within their racial communities. For example, statistically, more Black people consider homosexuality "wrong" than White people do.

Additionally, there is reportedly less homophobia in second-generation families than in the first generation. For the offspring of parents who were immigrants, this may be particularly challenging as the LGBTQ+ person of color has to deal with their parents' homophobia in addition to any difficulties they may face by living in a new country.

The Need for Resilience

Because of how much homophobia and racism LGBTQ+ people of color face, they are often referred to as resilient. Children of color may experience racism from an early age in school, and those who are also LGBTQ+ can be victims of homophobia as well.

The stress of being a multiple minority continues through adulthood, and LGBTQ+ people of color may find less community strength than their White counterparts.

One study notes that "results suggest that minority stress and community resilience processes may differ for White and POC sexual minority men." Therefore, it is often up to individuals to be resilient on their own, rather than rely on their community.

When Personal Is Political

Another facet of living as an LGBTQ+ person of color is that there may be stress stemming from the idea that an individual represents a demographic, and LGBTQ+ POC represent multiple demographics.

The adage that "the personal is political" comes from the idea that we are subjected to the greater systems at large and our relationship to the powers that be in the actions we take in our personal and private lives.

However, over time the statement has also grown to mean that our actions are meaningful on a larger scale. What we do as individuals can be scrutinized by the public, often based on our demographics. This may be incredibly stressful for people who represent multiple demographics to others.

How to Support LGBTQ+ POC

Being a person of color who is also LGBTQ+ may not be unusual, but it definitely can be a challenge. Now that you know about the stresses of being a multiple minority, you might want to take action to support people who are more marginalized than yourself. Let's look at an easy and effective way to go about that.

Intersectionality

The idea of intersectionality is about looking at different areas of identity and examining how they overlap. Don't worry; it's not nearly as complex as it sounds, and we'll already be talking about it a good bit.

The Center for Intersectional Justice defines intersectionality as "fighting discrimination within discrimination, tackling inequalities within inequalities, and protecting minorities within minorities." That means that when you look at racism, you also look at those who may experience homophobia, too, or when you look at homelessness, you don't just focus on the experiences of White unhoused people, but those of unhoused people of color too.

To be more intersectional, the main thing you need to do is shift focus from one area of a problem and instead look at the bigger picture. For a feminist issue, that means not only looking at how a problem impacts White women but also going deeper to find out how it impacts women of color.

Intersectionality is a lens through which you can view the world, making you a more conscientious person. It also makes you a kinder, and more caring person, because you'll be paying more attention to the various ways that other people are discriminated against and working to stop them within your world.

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7 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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