Fusion is a new project working across Greater Manchester for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) Black and Asian Minoritised Ethnic (BAME) young people. Fusion has several areas it hopes to develop over the three years. The first is working with BAME LGBT young people from Greater Manchester, providing safe and supportive spaces both online and physically throughout the city where young people can meet, socialise and access peer support. Fusion aims to connect BAME LGBT young people from across the region and increase their social and support networks. Over the 3 years the group will undertake a number of projects exploring identity, culture, history and self-care.
The project also aims to help create allies in BAME communities. An ally is someone who understands and supports a cause or a friend, who sticks up for the rights of a group of people that they aren’t necessarily part of. We want Fusion to create supportive friends, peers, families, youth spaces and communities so that young BAME LGBT people feel more able to be themselves across different areas of their lives. Work to create dialogue and understanding about LGBT issues in BAME communities is something the project aims to develop. Project worker Chloe is also one of two organisers for Rainbow Noir; a group for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) people of colour in Manchester for over 18s and hopes that throughout the project, older members of Rainbow Noir may be able to help mentor the younger group and act as positive and affirming role models.
BAME LGBT people are less likely to access mixed, mainstream provisions, there are a number of reasons for this but they’re often overlooked. Intersectionality is the practise of examining how biological, social and cultural factors intersect with one another and can often lead to inequality being faced by individuals or groups of people. A recent video posted by Akilah Hughes on YouTube entitled Intersectional Feminism and Pizza helps break it down in a fun, accessible (and edible) way:
In the video Akilah tells us to imagine a world that’s made for burgers; everything in the world is made to cater to, fit and support burgers. BURGERS RULE!
But you’re a pizza
There are other pizzas in the world, plenty in fact, so you’re not alone but still you find that things aren’t easy because the world is made to support burgers. However the burger world has come accept that cheese pizzas are ok and so they have some rights.
But you’re a pizza with extra toppings; jalapenos, chicken, mushrooms, maybe even a stuffed crust. Now these toppings can in some pizza spaces serve to separate you because other cheese pizzas don’t have lived experience of having extra toppings and therefore don’t consider what life might be like for you, don’t think about extra toppings when designing services or think about how in many case life can be pretty hard or unfair for pizzas with extra toppings.
Are you following? It’s a wordy metaphor but the video is super cool and explains intersectionality really well! The crux of intersectionality is that we need to be aware that not all people experience the world the same and some people are part of several minoritised groups; e.g. Black, Asian, LGBT, disabled, single parents. When you are part of a few it can further increase the chances of you feeling left out or isolated and fewer people are likely to understand your lived experiences or have similar ones.
We know it’s important that people in all spaces are aware of and make the effort to understand that people have lots of different pizza toppings…or to bring it back to us; sections of their identity that shape our lives differently. In an ideal world everyone would think this way but the reality is that there are many who don’t and unfortunately there are always going to be people that either aren’t able or aren’t willing to put in the work; to understanding experiences outside of their own. This is why creating spaces for folks who experience being a minority is so important. These spaces provide safe environments for people to be themselves, to not have to worry about not fitting in, being the only one or upsetting or alienating people with talk of their experiences. Groups based on commonality, in a world where you aren’t the majority or treated equally can be really empowering and full of kinship, support and understanding. BAME LGBT people are less likely to access mixed, mainstream LGBT groups and provisions for a number of reasons, including some of those listed above and so this is why we feel the Fusion project is so important!
So!…how do I get involved?
If you’re a young person you can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to be added to the online group. You can also get someone to do this on your behalf and so if you have a trusted adult or friend who can email for you then that’s an option too! If you’re an adult, parent, carer, youth worker, teacher who would like to know more about the project or who would like advice on supporting a young person you too can email email@example.com to discuss how to support the young person you’re enquiring on behalf of. From there we can arrange a time to meet or a phone call.