Original Article: bit.ly/1DRZkQC
Challenging the invisibility of minorities within minorities and developing specific services addressing particular needs is critical. As quoted within the report: when you lay blue upon yellow, you create a completely unique colour of green.
‘The ways in which we learn about and understand ourselves are significantly shaped by the world we see around us, and as such cultural representations are incredibly important,’ says Jon Ward, currently researching visual representations of the black male body at the University of East Anglia.
‘Looking at the ways in which BME MSM (men who have sex with men) are depicted in Western culture, these lives either go unseen or are reduced to rigid stereotypes; nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in the realm of pornography. Various academic studies have shown that specific BME identities are repeatedly and overwhelmingly shown in certain ways; for example, men of East Asian origin are normally represented as young, subservient bottoms, whereas black men are overtly aggressive, hyper-macho tops.’
Ward goes on to state how this reduction of the BME MSM to invisibility or a problematic stereotype can have serious implications for accessing specific health services. According to the PHE report, black MSM are 15 times more likely to be HIV positive compared to the general population and the group has significantly higher rates of suicide, self-harm and mental ill health.
One of the key issues emerging from the report was that ‘the personal testimonies of BME gay and bisexual men remain untold and would greatly assist in demystifying homosexuality within the BME community’. Using this point as a foundation block for this feature, we’ve invited four men to give their experience of both being gay and belonging to an ethnic minority in the UK.
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