In Our Own Voices: Serving the needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender
People of Color, our Friends and Families.
Healthy Relationship Guidelines For
Lesbian, Gay Bisexual And Transgender People of Color.
Relationships between and amongst lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of color can be profoundly intimate, healing and empowering. However, because the oppression experienced by each of us is so hurtful to so many areas of our lives, our relationships also have the potential to be tumultuous, abusive and damaging. The following is a list of guidelines to assist us in maintaining healthy relationships and protect us from perpetuating the very oppression we united against in the first place.
Decide for yourself what your sexual orientation and ethnicity mean to you, or acknowledge
that you are still figuring that out and share that with your partner.
Discuss with your partner what it means to them to be who they are from the standpoint of both sexual orientation and race.
Allow anyone else to define for you what it means to be who you are. There is more than one way to be a person of color and there are as many ways to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender as there are people.
Tell your partner how to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender or judge how they behave as a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person of color.
Decide for yourself what you want in a partner and how you want to be treated at home and in public. This means deciding whether you want a partner who shares your sexual orientation (or race) or if they can be bisexual, curious, white etc. This also includes deciding how you want to be spoken to and what kind of language is acceptable in joking and serious moments. This also means deciding whether, to whom and to what extent you want to be out as individuals and as a couple.
Criticize your partner for who and how they are. This means no comments or putdowns about them not being out, or being too "butch" or too "ghetto" etc. You can choose whether or not to stay in a relationship with someone however; the choice to put him or her down because of who they are and how they behave is always a bad one.
Discuss how differences in education, income, age, race, appearance, ability etc. impact your relationship and come up with healthy ways of dealing with differences and power imbalances.
Just close your eyes and hope for the best. The best way to prevent differences from having a negative impact on the relationship is to look honestly at privileges and disadvantages and decide as a couple how to support each other.
Set aside time to work on the relationship and time to have fun with your partner. It can't be all business and bills or the relationship will lose its spark, but doing some work on the details of the relationship will make the fun part cleaner.
Have friends and interests outside the relationship. This will round out your life and provide a valuable resource during difficult times in the relationship. Talk to your partner about your needs regarding time and intimacy with friends and whether or not your romantic partnership is to be an exclusive one.
Try to do it all alone. Seeking counseling is often a good way to have an objective third party with no vested interest give you input on how to improve things.
In Our Own Voices, Inc. — Serving the needs of LGBT people of color, our friends and families. 33 Central Avenue, AIbany, NY 12210 518.432.4188
LGBT Domestic Violence Support Line 518.432.4341
This project was supported by a grant administered by the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services.
Points of view in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the Division of Criminal Justice Services. © In Our Own Voices, Inc., 2004