For QTIPOC cuties, finding community is an amazing and empowering experience
There are a lot reasons why being a Queer, Trans, Intersex Person of Colour (QTIPOC) is beautiful and amazing. The communities that exist are especially wonderful and empowering, and an amazing support. Unfortunately for some, it can feel lonely before you find these communities.
Growing up, you might rarely see yourself reflected in movies, TV, politics or books – and it’s even less likely these stories do justice to the complexity of what it’s like to be QTIPOC. The people of colour you see are cis and hetero, and the queer people are always white. Perhaps you’ve felt like there are times when it feels like there’s no one else like you in the world.
Finding other QTIPOC is important because we often become each other’s chosen family. It’s so important to have chosen family when some of us don’t really have good relationships with our biological family. Meeting other people with similar stories, who may also have families that struggle to accept them is a huge step to realising your identity is not wrong and you’re not alone in the ways you might feel.
Your white and straight friends can be good allies, and they might well be some of your best friends. They can listen to what you’re going through and support you. But there are some things that only other QTIPOC will ever be able to fully understand, like the experience of juggling multiple identities at the same time – especially when those identities don’t mesh super well together. For instance, only QTIPOC know that you won’t ever be able to pick one or the other. It’s not as easy as that!
Even if you haven’t met them yet, there’s a whole community of QTIPOC out there who have your back. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. You deserve to feel good! And if you’re doing well, pay it forward and buy another QTIPOC a meal if they aren’t having a good time or get them a cute gift to remind them you care. If the roles are ever reversed, you’ll appreciate someone doing the same for you.
Finding physical spaces where QTIPOC come together like (in)visible project events or the QTIPOC space at Minus18 parties can help link you up with community and chosen family.
If you’re living outside of a major city, finding those spaces online, like the Facebook group ‘qtipoc qtpies’, can be really helpful too. For many of us, online communities are a huge help in building connections with people from across the world when feeling lonely. Places like forums, social media, websites and other online groups can introduce you to people and conversations that can be especially useful when you don’t necessarily have heaps of QTIPOC friends yet.
Older QTIPOC as community
Growing up, it seemed to me like all the older queers had it figured out already. Either they have jobs, skills in art or music, or they know what they want to do when they leave school. It can make you feel like you’re not doing as much as you should be doing or that you’re behind the crowd.
Turns out, no one really knows what they’re doing, and there definitely isn’t a manual to help figure it out. Having older people around who are QTIPOC can be really helpful spiritually, because their life and their experience show us that an awesome future is possible.
Older QTIPOC have been through similar experiences, and will often have life advice that isn’t the black and white thinking that some others might provide. They understand that you can’t just cancel your family, and that genuine progress takes time and commitment. Sure, some of the language they use is bound to be a bit different, but that's because we’re from different generations.
In the same way they might not feel comfortable with the word "queer", they might use words that sound weird to us. Just remember that real community shouldn’t be ageist and thrives in its diversity, so including people of all ages, abilities, races and genders sustains growth.
They don’t even need to be that much older than you. A few years is a lot of time in the QTIPOC world. If there is someone who shares a similar experience to you and is where you wanna be when you’re older, get in touch with them. See if they’d be cool meeting up with you and being asked for advice. Usually, if they have time, an older person will be happy to get a coffee with someone a bit younger or have a phone chat, and they can probably point you in the right direction for getting more help.
This article was first published in the OMG I'm QTIPOC! resource, now available to purchase online.
OMG I'm QTIPOC was co-created with Drummond St, and The Drum.