Queer anarchists – challenging racism

Went to “Diverse City: Challenging racism in our communities” held by ACON’s Racial Harmony Working Group and QARC (queers against racists committee).

Sat next to QR peeps E (Asian), P and mathematician N.
The idea for the forum was to discuss racism incidents that keep occurring at gay venues, particularly by stage performers and staff who don’t serve Asians at bars.

A doco was shown about how local queers had had negative experiences when socialising and how they feel their body types will never measure up to the “ideal” and will always be rejected.

We were divided into five groups and as an icebreaker had to pick out a card from about 20 pictures laid out on the floor – mountain, polar bears, masks, people kissing, fences – and explain why we’d chosen it.
“I feel like I’m putting on a mask when i deal with certain people.”
“I feel like this whole issue is a huge mountain.”
“I wish we were all like a group of polar bears – all the same colour, no differences or prejudices.”

Then we discussed our experiences. A group of dyke porn publishers said they’d organised a gig where a performer had applied “black face” makeup and sung negro songs. “We said this was insensitive and she complained out us censoring her. Next time she performed at our gig, she didn’t do the songs, but her supporters in the audience wore offensive Swastika armbands to protest against our “censorship”. We’re just wondering where and how do you draw the line? Why couldn’t they see it was offensive?”
-“I think only black people should sing negro songs cos they share the whole slave legacy – it’s their history.”

Then an Asian actor said he often applies for acting jobs that advertise for a “25-year-old male” to “deliberately fuck with the system”. When he turns up, they say: “But you’re Asian” and he challenges them saying: “But Australia is a multicultural society – deal with it”, but doesn’t get any acting work.

Also, he doesn’t like it when he tells people he’s gay and Asian and they automatically start gushing with sympathy. “Why? I’m happy with being what I am. I work part-time in a sex shop and get heaps of sex. There’s no problem.” But he also advises Asian clients in another job and says he has to “wear a mask” then and feels he has to hide the fact he has “been in an open relationship for seven years with a man”.

Had a break, then went back into our groups and split into smaller groups of three to discuss what we could do to overcome racism in the community.
Person 1: “I’m fucking sick of all the prejudice.”
Person 2: “Can you please stop using the F word so often?”
Person 3: “Are you serious?”
2: “Well, partly. Mostly not.”
3: “I have a friend who’s geeky – like you -and he hates the F word too. Maybe it’s a thing about geeks. He teaches physics.”
2: “It might be a stereotype thing.”
3: “There are some positives to stereotypes.”
2: “Yeah. I was always viewed as being nerdy, but when I came out as being gay, I could take on the witty and stylish aspects of the stereotype. They seemed to override the nerdy image.”
3: “I’m geeky and I play on the positive aspects of that stereotype. Maybe there are some positive aspects to the Asian stereotype. [Turns to Person 1 who’s Asian] Do you work hard?”
1: “I fuck like a rabbit.”
3: “Are there any positive stereotypes about Asian rabbits? [Long pause as we all think about it]. What about cooking? Can you use that?”
1: “Nah, I’m a crap cook. I mainly get approached for drugs.”
3: “Why?”
1: “All the drug dealers are Asian in TV crime shows. The stereotype that really cheeses me off is that we all have close extended families – not all of us do. I don’t. Everyone assumes that.”

Then workshop facilitators from the five groups reported back on our top three suggestions. Our group’s were: rating niteclubs on whether the staff or performers are racist or welcoming; media monitoring of press reports and responding to negative reports; and alternative porn featuring a variety of skin colours/body shapes/ethnic cultures.

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