Racism in the Rainbow

A petition has surfaced online condemning racist performances at LGBTQ venues.

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, a famous LGBTQ nightclub which has regular drag performances, will be allowing Charlie Hides on stage to perform in what some are saying is a racist blackface act.

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Activist, Chardine Taylor-Stone who started the online petition argues Hides acting as Laquisha Jonz “is a racist act based on misogynist stereotypes of Black working class women, it is out-dated, offensive, shameful and has no place in the LGBT Community.” The petition has gained nearly 1000 signatures in 24hours.

A public post on Laquisha Jonz Facebook, shows her and her fans do not see the problem or the offence caused, by white men blacking up in the name of comedy. A Creative Director at Otto Communications & PR stated “Overly saturating our world with politically correctness is killing creativity.”

Political correctness should be celebrated not seen as a chore, it protects the most marginalised society.  In this case Black Women who face overt and racial micro-aggressions daily.  Frankly when Laquisha Jonz returns to being Charlie Hides they do not have to deal with the constant discrimination.

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What is immediately apparent when reading the numerous comments is, the lack of understanding of the origins of Blackface comedy.

Blackface for years has caused the Black Community to feel as if their culture is being mocked and ridiculed. The act of white actors blacking up started off in the 19th century, they would play minstrel caricatures in order to  degrade Black  people, their imitations would be laced with negative connotations deeming  Black people as socially and racially inferior. Blackface has aided to the many racist serotypes of the Black Community, causing many negative perceptions world wide of the Black Race due to high consumption of American media.

 

Charlie Hides is a well-known figure in the LGBT drag community. They play a number of entertaining acts and has amassed a dedicated and loyal following over the years. Hides has to understand they have a certain level of influence and power to perpetuate ideas whether they are positive or negative. The whole idea of wanting to spread love by literally being in drag to drag black womanhood through the mud is somewhat ignorant.

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This whole incident reminded me of Prez Hiltions tweet, “Inside every gay man is a fierce Black Women” Bridget’s Minamore’s response to this was perfect, “When you call black women ‘fierce’, you are dehumanising us to a stereotype that has dangerous consequences; we become not only less than human, but also less than woman.”  Laquisha Jonz is a racist caricature dehumanising Black Women just to gain a few laughs. It further has untold consequences of the seeds of discrimination which is being planted in the minds of the audience. The thought of shared experiences between white gay men and black women is dangerous,  robing Black Women of their voices as it is now deemed alright, and accurate when their stories are being told through a gay white male actor who has a penchant for bad weaves.

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Minamore, also discussed how  the stereotyping of women of colour causes racism whether it is done intentionally or not, “Most racism I see is as simple as someone who is yet to acknowledge the harm casual words [act, behavior] and phrases can cause in keeping the oppression of non-white people going …casually referring to…stereotypes causes real harm to the communities of women of colour, and acknowledging this is the first step in helping to end the injustice we face.”

Although Charlie Hides has ignored a request for a comment, The Royal Vauxhall Tavern have made clear they are standing by the Drag performer and will continue to allow them to perform as Laquisha. The CEO,  James Lindsey stated “RVT has played and will continue to play a catalyst role within LGBT community which provides a diverse programme of entertainment and does not support racist or derogatory artists or entertainment programmes in the way in which Chardine Taylor-Stone portrays.” Michal, one half of the dynamic duo of Kings College London,  Queer Talk has commented on the incident “It’s really disappointing to see the Royal Vauxhall Tavern’s response. The white members of the LGBT “community” need to step up and do something about the racism that is so incredibly blatant. Blackface is never okay, mocking black women is both misogynist and racist and the fact that our concerns aren’t being listened to is precisely why many Black LGBT people avoid mainstream queer spaces.”

It seems as if racial incidents in the LGBT community are happening more often than the mainstream movement would like to admit. There is a clear racial divide as many queer people of colour belieFS-Mag1.pngve the movement as a whole has a racial hierarchy when it comes to which voices are heard within the community.

Fran Cowling, LGBTQ Officer was extremely bewildered by how those with privilege in the LGBTQ movement dismiss the voices of people of colour

A very real and common example of marginalisation and prejudice within our LGBTQ community is racism. The appropriation of Black women and Black identity and culture, IS racist, and is especially popular with white gay men and others. As a direct result of this Black LGBTQ people often don’t partake within the LGBTQ community and spaces. This in addition to the everyday racism they face from the rest of society can build up and leave Black LGBTQ people alone, vulnerable and with no safe space of their own.”

Earlier this year, the gay men’s charity GMFA survey  found, 80% of Black men, 79% of Asian men, 75% of South Asian men, and 64% of mixed race men have personally experienced racism on the UK gay scene.

As a straight Black Woman , I am incredibly upset by the mainstream LGBT community failure to tackle thd deep rooted racism in the movement, yes because at times it portrays my womanhood as a joke but also on a more terirarty level, as it is causing my Black/POC LGBT friends to feel alienated from the movement.

I am seeing more and more QTPOC groups, who wish to create a safe space from homophobia and racism. The lack of statistics and data on all the different Black  intersections of the LGBTQ community makes it truly difficult to analyse the problem and make a clear plan of what needs to be done. Stonewall should be doing more  research and campaigns  of how racist behaviour in the LGBT community can be devastating  for people of colour who have double or even triple burden in today’s society.

I think this is the time for Charlie Hides and The Royal Vauxhall Tavern to realise they are  facilitating racism and to make the right decision to draw the curtains on Laquisha Jonz. 

You can find the petition here.

Written by Bee Tajudeen 

@BeeTajudeen