Canadian Gay & Lesbian Communities
van der Meide, Wayne (2001). The Intersection of Sexual Orientation & Race: Considering the Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered (GLBT) People of Colour & Two-Spirited People. (A Research Paper prepared for EGALE Canada) (Full Text) Excerpts.
van der Meide, Wayne (2001). Carrefour De L’orientation Sexuelle Et De L’Origine Ethnique. : Comprendre La Vie Des Personnes Gaies, Lesbiennes, Bisexuelles, Transsexuelles Et Transgenres (GLBTT) De Couleur Ainsi Que Bi-Spirituelles. (Document de recherche préparé pour ÉGALE Canada) Rapport complet.
van der Meide, Wayne (2001). La Intersección de la Orientación Sexual y la Raza: Considerando las Experiencias de Personas Gays, Lesbianas, Bisexuales y Transgénero (“GLBT”) de Color y de Personas de Doble Espíritu. (Documento de Investigación Preparado por EGALE Canadá.) Informe completo.
van der Meide, Wayne (2002). Carrefour de l’orientation sexuelle et de la race, de la religion, de l’origine ethnique et de la langue d’origine: etat de la recherche. PDF Download.
Broodram C (2003). Building the Links: The Intersection of Race and Sexual Orientation. Prepared
by: Chris Boodram, With contributions from Wayne van der Meide, Kim
Vance, John Fisher, Fiona Meyer Cook, Anthony Mohamed, and Lisa
Lachance (collectively the Egale Canada Building the Links organising
committee). (A Research Paper prepared for EGALE
Text) Not available in French or Spanish.
Note: The study by van de Meide (2001) was the first part of a process. The second part was described as follows: "The second stage of EGALE’s project will be a consultation in Toronto on February 16 and 17, 2002. This two-day conference is intended to be an opportunity for interested parties to examine issues related to the intersections of race and sexual orientation. As well, we hope it will be an opportunity for discussing what EGALE could do in terms of both its organizational makeup or mandate to work better as an ally with the diverse communities that it serves." (Lisa Lachance, On behalf of the Project Advisory Committee, 2001) (Related Press Release, 2002).
Caucus for Two-Spirited and Queers of Colour, Egale Canada: "The
conference entitled Rainbow Visions: Building a Pan-Canadian Queer Agenda
that was organized by Egale in May 2003 is historically significant for
many reasons. One reason is the formation of a focus group that was created
by a number of conference participants, who recognized the need to formally
address issues that consistently emerged throughout the conference proceedings.
These participants, who identify with various ethnic communities, realized
the imperative to assemble such a group in order to highlight these issues,
discuss them, and evaluate their significance and relevance to queer people
of colour in an effort to articulate the limitations of the conference
for this segment of the queer community in Canada..."
"How can EGALE help in dealing with the fact of systemic racism? First, by recognising that gay communities are not all white. Secondly, EGALE needs to begin a dialogue with organisers within the black community." (P. 2)
"Not all gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and two-spirited (“GLBT & two-spirited”) people are affected by oppression and/or discrimination in the same way and to the same degree. Although all GLBT & Two-Spirited people experience homophobia and heterosexism to varying degrees, it cannot reasonably be claimed that they share one common identity." (P.7)
"Lesbians have never had and do not have the economic or cultural power that gay men have possessed and still do possess. All lesbians experience not only lesbophobia, but sexism as well. Consequently, their oppression is double that of gay white men. Also, if they are a lesbian of colour (black or aboriginal etc.) then their oppression is more multi-layered." (P. 7)
"Oppression and relative disadvantage often cannot be effectively challenged unless their complex and interrelated causes and effects are examined holistically from multiple perspectives. The implications of ignoring these complexities are very real for people who experience multidimensional oppression." (p. 7)
"Clearly, it is both more productive and analytically sound to avoid simplistic assumptions about the level of homophobia within people of colour and First Nations’ communities. More important are the ways homophobia affects GLBT people of colour & Two-Spirited people. As the responses in this survey clearly indicate, the impact can be devastating. This impact is compounded because often GLBT people of colour & Two-Spirited people face an impossible choice between the safety of their communities against racism and embracing their full identity, including their homosexuality. " (P. 13)
"It is often assumed that people who experience one form of oppression and discrimination are less likely to incorporate or inflict discrimination upon others. Sadly, this is not an accurate generalisation. Racism within dominant Western and white gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities does exist. It ranges from being physically excluded from certain dance clubs and bars to receiving poor service in restaurants and shops that primarily serve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered clientele." (P. !6)
"Several of the participants described their experience in relation to the larger Western white gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community in terms of feelings of ‘alienation’. As one woman put it: ‘…there is very little inclusion or reflection of who we are sometimes in general LGBT spaces…I would say that it is more like “alienation”.’" (P. 14)
In the area of sexual attraction and intimate interpersonal relationships, GLBT people of colour & Two-Spirited people often must contend with being either invisible or hyper-visible as reflections of racially exotic objectifications." (p. 15)
"These feelings of alienation arise from many complex and interrelated causes which range from an inability by the larger dominant Western white community to appreciate racism and simple cultural differences to the overwhelming emphasis on Western and white ideals of beauty in the media and in interpersonal relationships. In the area of sexual attraction and intimate interpersonal relationships, GLBT people of colour & Two-Spirited people often must contend with being either invisible or hyper-visible as reflections of racially exotic objectifications. When combined, these attitudes and behaviours conspire to prevent GLBT people of colour & Two-Spirited people from discovering and embracing their full identities. What was clear from research participants is that overcoming low self-esteem is especially difficult for GLBT people of colour & Two-Spirited people. Low self-esteem in turn manifests itself in destructive behaviour. For example, as one man who works with gay men from Southern Asia and of South Asian ethnic heritage explained: ‘It is easy for many South Asian men to say yes to a white man who wants to have sex, even if that white man demands unsafe sex. white men are considered a prize of sorts. This incorporation of low self-esteem is also reflected among First Nations people. Perhaps even more offensive is the fact that many gay white men, in particular, are aware—whether consciously or not—of the power they derive from the internalised racism of many gay men of colour. As one research participant put it, ‘there is an assumption that I must be attracted to the North American ideal of gay male beauty (tall, heavily muscular and young Caucasian men) and that anything I may say to the contrary is just political correctness.’" (P. 14-15)
"There is very little funding to support services and organisations geared to providing support and serving the particular needs of GLBT people of colour & Two-Spirited people. The funding there is, is too little. As a result, these services and organisations must try to survive based on volunteer support, which is difficult over the long term. This vacuum needs to be filled by people who can work full-time. There is no access to funding to facilitate self-governance of people of colour. Creating organisations for themselves is therefore difficult… After years of speaking about diversity, what little diversity there is has been inserted into a heavily consumerist culture. The result is that there is only the façade of inclusivity." (P. 17)
"[A] Canadian expert in income tax law has argued that the re-definition of spouse in the Canadian Income Tax Act to include people in same-sex relationships results in a net loss of after tax income for those couples with low incomes but it results in a net increase for couples in which a wealthy partner financially supports his/her same-sex spouse. Therefore, although an exclusively opposite-sex definition of spouse in laws oppresses all GLBT people insofar as they fundamentally deny the validity of those relationships, the simple redefinition of spouse may do little, or may even magnify the oppression experienced by many GLBT and two-spirited people. Given the relative economic disadvantages experienced by women and people of colour, to name just two, the mandatory inclusion of same-sex couples as spousal units within the income tax system will likely have a more adverse impact upon women and people of colour. As one expert in human rights noted: ‘those whom marriage is most likely to benefit are those who are already fairly high up in the hierarchy of privilege that pervades society at large.’ (P. 9) - (See: "Gay rights" for "gay whites"? - A Law Paper)
"Substantial efforts must be made to challenge the oppression of GLBT people of colour & Two-Spirited people, as people, not a collection of separated issues. This, of course, necessitates that all aspects of their identity and all sources of the oppression they face be considered and challenged. Until this happens, GLBT people of colour & Two-Spirited people will only have partial access to equality, they will have gained nothing more than the status of equality, without being equal." (P. 19)
"Recommendation: EGALE affirms the position adopted by the Sexual Orientation, Multiple Discrimination and Related Intolerance Caucus at the Second WCAR PrepCom that "human identity cannot be compartmentalized, and those who experience discrimination based upon multiple oppressions are not fully protected from racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance until all aspects of their personhood are explicitly protected from discrimination." For the reasons outlined in this research report, EGALE Canada strongly supports the explicit recognition in the WCAR Declaration and Program of Action that experiences of racism are exacerbated by, and cannot be separated from, discrimination experienced on other grounds, including sexual orientation." (P. 20)
Note (August, 2003): A Google.com Search Using the first part of the study's title "The Intersection of Sexual Orientation" and the author last name "Meide" - "The Intersection of Sexual Orientation" Meide - produced only two references that were not from EGALE or the author's second study noted below. The indication is that this document has been generally ignored in Canada or elsewhere in the world.
However, an article in XTRA (Toronto, Feb 2002: Extending a hand: EGALE tackles how to include queers of colour N/A) did speak of his study but did not mention its title nor where the study could be located online. Excerpts: "Canada’s largest gay and lesbian lobby group — best known for fighting for gay marriage and hate crime legislation — wants to be more welcoming to queers of colour.. Egale Canada will be holding a two-day consultation this month in Toronto to explore ways in which the organization can become more diverse and address how racism affects gays and lesbians internationally and in local gay communities. As a basis, the meeting will use a report produced for Egale last year by Toronto lawyer Wayne van der Meide on the experiences of gay, lesbian, bi and trans people of colour and native (two spirited) peoples in Canada... Van der Meide’s report looked at the ways in which gay men and lesbians of colour have to deal with both homophobia and racism inside and outside the GLBT community. Van der Meide says he was taken aback by the extent of the discrimination he found... Fisher says that Egale has had to work to overcome a lack of diversity within the organization in the past.. “In the early ’90s, Egale was dominated by men. But our current policies require gender parity. Ten years ago, Egale was people exclusively in Ottawa. Now our policies require geographic diversity. We’ve done outreach to the transgendered community. Now there’s two members on the board... “If I’m brown and gay, I have some additional identity, in addition to being gay,” says van der Meide. “Gay is thrown around as some kind of universal when it’s not.” Being biracial as well as gay is an identity van der Meide has struggled with in his life. He says mainstream gay political organizations are still very white, very male, and very middle class. He says whites in the gay community need to realize that race isn’t an identity “in addition to” being gay..."
Information about Wayne van der Meide.
"The Crude Simplicity of Fixed Status-based Identity Categories: A person’s identity varies depending upon the interaction of a wide range of factors. These include, but are certainly not limited to a person’s race, religion, ethnicity, gender, heritage language, class, sexual orientation, national origin etc. The relative privilege or disadvantage of individuals and groups of people are also influenced by systemic biases and social prejudices related to these factors. It is not surprising, therefore, that categories of “identity markers” based on these factors — such as, “lesbian”, “black/African Canadian”, “immigrant” — have become the basis for much of the social, political, legal and academic work related to understanding and responding to systemic oppression and direct discrimination. Many if not most social change movements today are geared around one particular identity marker. These political strategies are commonly referred to as “identity politics”. However, the process of categorising people and political goals by particular identity markers represents a significant over-simplification of people’s identities, their unique experiences and the complex nature of systemic oppression and privilege." (P. 4)
"Nevertheless, the implications of the simple elimination of the distinction between opposite-sex and same-sex couples are complex and even conflicting. For example, Claire F.L. Young, an expert in Canadian income tax has noted that the extension will result in same-sex couples who are relatively poor being burdened with higher taxes than they would have been were they treated as individuals. Therefore, although an exclusively opposite-sex definition of spouse in laws oppresses all GLBT people insofar as it denies the validity of same-sex conjugal relationships, the simple redefinition of “spouse” may do little, or may even magnify the oppression experienced by many GLBTST people. In her recent book, Are We “Persons” Yet: Law and Sexuality in Canada, Kathleen Lahey lays out one of the most comprehensive and thought provoking analyses of the potential socio-economic implications of inclusion of same-sex couples as ‘spousal’ units. And although she ultimately supports the pursuit of formal equality, she is also clear it is not only the benefits of inclusion that will be unevenly distributed, but also the costs of exclusion:..." (P. 6) - (See: "Gay rights" for "gay whites"? - A Law Paper)
"Coming Out: Whether GLBT people of colour “come out” or not, racism invariably precedes heterosexism as a source of oppression. As Isabelle Gunning put it: “most of us grew up understanding that we were black, and that bad things could happen to us because of that, long before we discovered that we were lesbian or gay.”30 This reality often makes the process of “coming out” itself more difficult: ... Among so-called “developed” western nations, it is often assumed that non-Western/non-white communities and cultures are more homophobic than the dominant Western/white communities. This assumption is often based upon unexamined and simplistic racist and ethnophobic assumptions about the lack of sophistication or the cultural and religious backwardness of non-Western/white cultures." (P. 9)
"Racism within GLBT Communities: As Hutchinson has observed: “The coming out process…does not automatically ‘liberate’ people of colour, who, by revealing their sexual orientation and attempting to integrate themselves within white gay and lesbian communities, may encounter racial hierarchy.” ‘Coming out’ as a GLBT or Two-spirited person, however potentially liberating a process that may be, cannot erase the realities of racism and ethnocentrism. These oppressive forces are not limited to heterosexual people... In the area of sexual attraction and intimate interpersonal relationships, GLBT people of colour & Two-spirited people often must contend with the unfortunate paradox of being either invisible, or hyper-visible as racially exotic objectification’s. As Steven Saylor has put it, “the premium placed on young white boys…is really high. The cachet they carry is apparently what everyone is looking for.” On the other end of the spectrum, Julien and Mercer observe that: “in the gay subculture ...[b]lack men...[are] confined to a narrow repertoire of types - the super-sexual stud and the sexual savage on the one hand, and the delicate and exotic ‘Oriental’ on the other.”" (P. 10-11)
"Conflicts Between Group Identities: People who experience multiple forms of oppression often face a conflict of identities. This conflict is probably most pronounced for people who have strong cultural, ethnic and religious affiliations to non-western/white communities. These people are often pressured to form uneasy and partial alliances with communities constructed in opposition, thereby splitting their very existence into incomplete pieces... Many GLBTST people who are not white/western describe their experience in relation to the larger western/white GLBT community in terms of feelings of “alienation”. Many GLBTST people who are not white/western describe their experience in relation to the larger western/white GLBT community in terms of feelings of “alienation”." (P. 12-13)
"Conclusion to Part II: No one can be completely described, categorised or captured by reference to one or even many ‘fixed identities.’ Hyphenation (gay-male-South Asian-Indo-Caribbean-Dutch- mixed-race-progressive-professional) simply can never capture the complexity of people’s identity... People’s identities are often relational, not inherent. I am not a person of colour because of my race. Race itself is not a biological fact but a social construct. I am a person of colour because I am not ‘white’ in a society premised upon the constructed superiority of ‘whiteness.’" (P. 14)
"Research Gaps/Spaces - Areas Requiring Further Enquiry - Social-Scientific Research Required - Political-Scientific Research Required - Economic" (P. 17-20)
Concluding Remarks & Cautions about Future Research: As such, it is critical that as much as possible, members of targeted communities should be enlisted to design and conduct research projects. As Barbara Smith noted: "Ironically, the group of people who are (sic) least often consulted about their perspectives on this great divide are those who are most deeply affected by it: Black lesbian and gay activists. Contradictions that we have been grappling with for years, namely homophobia in the Black community, racism is the lesbian and gay community, and the need for both communities to work together as allied to defeat our real enemies, are suddenly on other people’s minds. Because Black lesbians and gays are not though of as leaders of either movement, however, this debate has been largely framed by those who have frighteningly little and inaccurate information." I would qualify this sentiment by noting that GLBT people of colour, religious, ethnic and linguistic minorities and aboriginal often are not leaders within their respective communities. The recruitment of these people as policy researchers and developers could help in changing this phenomenon." (P. 21)
Information about Wayne van der Meide.
Everyone's trying to help (About the Author) N/A: (Alternate Link) Wayne van der Meide: Growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Some comments on Trinidad.
UBC Law Theses and Dissertation Abstracts: "Who Guards the Borders of 'Gay'? : An Examination of the Implications of the Extension of 'Spousal' Status to Queer People Who Experience Multiple Oppression - by Wayne Van Der Meide (LL.M. 2001).
van der Meide, Wayne (The Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 2000). Legislating Equality: A Review of Laws Affecting Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered People in the United States. PDF Download N/A. (Alternate Link) All NGLTF Documents/Reports.
van der Meide, Wayne (1999) 'The Recognition of Same-Sex "Spousal"
Relationships in Immigration Law: Resisting the hypothesis that we are
not (also) women, poor people, people of colour, 'ethnics'...' (Panel 3:
Sexuality and Legal Identity. (1999
Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities: Canadian Law and Society
Association Conference, Faculty of Law, University of Sherbrooke.)
Calgary Article #2
of Canadian Information