By Mia McKenzie
Queer POC community can be severely dysfunctional. That’s true of all
kinds of community, really, but in queer communities dysfunction can
reach an exceptionally high level of holy shit. To help with this, I’ve
compiled this short list of things we can all do to kick the dysfunction
down a notch.
Don’t Take Sides When You Really Have No Idea What’s Going On
Unless you were there and saw and heard everything that happened, you don’t know
anything. Just because one of the people in a disagreement is your
friend doesn’t mean that person is right (or innocent). Loyalty is
important, but try to be loyal to your friends without making judgments
about people who have issues with your friends.
Chill. You Are Not the Queer Behavior Police
Queer POC community is, I think, at least in part, about rejecting
mainstream (heteronormative, sexist, racist, homophobic, etc.) social
systems that don’t help people feel free. Still, often, we mimic those
same busted systems when navigating our own communities and
relationships. What this often ends up looking like is queers telling
other queers how to do queerness: what to wear, who to date, what to
read, what to think, in order to be authentically queer. In other words,
“Here are the boxes you must fit into in order to avoid fitting into
boxes.” Y’all see the problem here, right? Stop. That’s ridiculous.
Don’t Be A Self-Righteous Dick
The bible says, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
And then it goes on to condone lots of rape and killing. So, it’s mostly
bullshit. Still, the initial idea is a good one. Translation: Don’t be a
dick. Don’t be unkind to people who have not been unkind to you. Don’t
talk shit about people who don’t talk shit about you. (You could even
take it a step further and not talk shit about people who do
talk shit about you, but, hey, you gotta walk before you can run,
right?) We all have our triggers. We all have past hurts. But they do
not give us license to be reckless, thoughtless, trauma-monsters raining
down self-righteous asshole-ness under the heading of, “I must do
whatever I have to do to feel safe!” If feeling safe requires
unfortunately high levels of dickishness on your part, consider tweaking
your coping mechanisms.
Stop Saving Face
This is good advice in QPOC community and everywhere else. Because we
are so often led around by our egos, we often put a lot of energy into
saving face. Rejection is hard, but it’s a necessary part of life and if
we accept and even embrace it, it can help us grow. But if we always
respond to rejection by pretending we didn’t care anyway (As in: I just
got fired, but I really didn’t want that job anyway and I was totally
thinking about quitting because they’re kinda racist and stuff, or, I
just got dumped but I didn’t really like that person anyhow and I was
planning on breaking up with them), then we really don’t get to take
advantage of what rejection offers us—an opportunity to really consider
what we might have done that didn’t work, so that we can avoid making
the same mistakes over and over again. It’s not always somebody else’s
fault. It’s not always somebody else’s loss. Sometimes it’s you.
Sometimes it’s your loss. Saving face and letting your ego dictate how
you respond to rejection only muddies the waters of self-reflection.
Hold Your Homies Accountable
Again, just because someone is your friend doesn’t mean they’re
right. In fact, just because someone is your friend doesn’t mean they
don’t sometimes do extremely fucked-up shit. If you know that your
friends are doing fucked-up shit, call them out. Hold them accountable.
They don’t get a pass to act a fool and hurt people because y’all grew
up together, or they saved your life that time you almost choked on your
In ’N Out burger, or even because they are always there for you. And
being “neutral” in the face of your friends’ bad behavior can be
tantamount to condoning it. So, don’t. Hold your friends accountable,
and give them room to do the same for you.
Together, we can end QPOC community dysfunction in our lifetimes!
**Mia McKenzie is the creator of Black Girl Dangerous and the
Black Girl Dangerous Photography Project. She is a writer (winner of the
Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award, winner of the Astraea
Foundation’s Writers Fund Award), a reader, a photographer, an activist,
and a nerd.