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The Voices of Those Who Are In Subcultures

If I could take all my parts with me when I go somewhere, and not have to say to one of them, “No, you stay home tonight, you won’t be welcome,” because Im going to an all white party where I can be gay, but not Black. Or I’m going to a Black poetry reading, and half the poets are antihomosexual, or thousands of situations where something of what I am cannot come with me. The day all the different parts of me can come along, we would have what I would call a revolution. ~Pat Parker

The above quote represents my experience and the experience of people who share my identity. Don’t believe me?

The Black Pride Survey 2000 proves what many of “us” have known forever— that marginalization—racism in the white LGBTQ community and homophobia in the black community and the over all nature of intolerance— is viewed as an issue by queer communities of color. The implication of this is that if homophobia and racism are both seen as problems, then queer communities of color has an opportunity to resists the oppression they perceive from the two communities in which their identities—being of color and gay— are entangled with. This resistance often turns into the creation of subcultures.

 The term “subculture” has also contemporarily been used to refer to the direct practices of subcultural manufacturing. In this conceptualization of subculture, one seeks to understand the things that are created by marginal communities that produce, circulate, and consume various cultural forms within its own boundaries. Subcultures that are displeased with the larger population can manifest their resistance to the larger culture by creating their own “unpopular” culture, making everyday decisions as a collective subculture that will give the group amplified power and agency, where there was little or none before. To fully understand subcultures I look towards the voices of those who most marginalized in society.

Kokumo, a beautiful transgender women of color who has many experiences with discrimination in chicago’s “gayberhood.” She states: “The vast majority of youth who go to Boystown feel as though it is not for them. The Center on Halsted is a place where grants matter more than the youth. The minute you go into the Center on Halsted, you’re policed. I always tell myself never to feel at home, I cannot feel more comfortable around my oppressors than I do around people who look life me, and therefore I am always looking to create community around those who are likeminded. Biodun is another youth who has literally stopped going to certain parts of the city due to the policing of black youth that go there. He states: When you walk in Boystown they will tell you to keep moving or they will lock you up. After hearing those things I do not go to Boystown anymore. The police see a group of black youth and they think we’re up to no good. It makes me feel insulted

These are only two of many instances in which black youth turn to subcultures to retreat from the marginalization that they experience in society. If black youth continue to be silenced in society, this retreating into subcultures will only last so long. And eventually, Black Youth will push back. The voices of those who are marginalized cannot be silenced forever.