The theme of Sydney’s 2019 Mardi Gras is FEARLESSNESS. I was curious as to what this word meant for Ethnic LGBTIQA+ people. Personally, fear has played a large part in my narrative. It was fear that kept me in the closet for so long. Fear that caused my parent’s to react the way they did. Fear that held me back from bringing my friends into my identity as a lesbian. These fears were based on legitimate concerns. Fear of being ostracised, shamed, shunned, alone. These fears were heightened by the fact that as an ethnic person, my ethnic community was my safety net – the familiarity of my Indian culture is what I clung on to as I tried to navigate the cultural shock of immigrating to Australia as a teenager. This deepened when I was a young adult, as I connected more with my parents and the family values instilled me which were coming from a very community orientated Indian family perspective. The fear of losing my ethnic community, my family, my grandparents because of my sexuality was all encompassing that it kept me hidden for a long time.
Then, something changed. I began to confide in people, first my cousin, then sisters, then friends, and finally my parents. And yes, it was tough, demoralising and took a huge toll on my mental health, but for the first time I shared those fears. I was motivated by love, love of not wanting to be anything less than I am, love of not wanting to lose my family that gave me the strength to be fearless and bring them all on my journey. That is what fearlessness means to me, to have the courage to be who I am and to love who I am. I fully acknowledge the privilege I have in being able to do that – living in a country where being queer is not criminalised, having access to employment to enable me to be financially independent in case things went really bad, having a support network, having access to medical help, the list is endless. The main point I want to highlight is that through all of this is that I was not afraid of who I am, I was afraid of how others would treat me for being a queer person of colour. Fearlessness for me is holding my head high and loving myself.
On Monday Feb 11 2019, Ethnic LGBT+ had the amazing opportunity to meet with a group of LGBTIQA+ people of colour, to ask them what fearlessness meant to them. Here are some of the responses:
“Fearlessness to me means being able to stand up for those who don’t feel safe enough to, to create spaces for their thoughts and opinions.”
“Fearlessness to me means breaking down our colonised understandings of gender and sexuality. It means to embrace and acknowledge all the understandings of self that came before.”
“I am fearless because I normalise my queerness when it is being questioned.”
“Fearlessness to me means being able to bring my family into who I am as a queer person.”
“I am fearless because I showed up today.”
What does fearlessness mean to you as a queer person of colour?