The Swedish Black Queer Movement

The Swedish Black Queer Movement
07/08/2017 Juliet Atto
In Lifestyle & Culture

Black queer people have throughout history, and still, today, stood on the barricades for both the black and the queer struggle. We scream at the top of our lungs for black people, other people of colour and our non-black queer siblings – but who screams for us? Often we are left to fend for ourselves with little to no help from the hetero- and cis-normative black community and the white-normative and antiblack LGBTQ community. This has lead us to create our very own movement and spaces so our stories can be told and our voices can be heard.

The past two to three years in Sweden has seen Afro-Swedish organising reach new heights and we have created a community for ourselves outside of the white-normative mainstream Swedish society. We are, however, not a homogeneous group and we of course experience discrimination in various degrees depending on our gender identity, sexuality, class, skin tone, facial features, religion and more. Therefore, to better raise the specific issues people within the black community, movements within the movement have been created. One of these movements is the black queer movement. It all started with Black Coffee HBTQ (LGBTQ), which Samuel Girma, Grace Jobe, Justine Balagade and myself founded in august 2015 right after the Stockholm Pride Festival. There we proudly and historically chanted “we’re loud! we’re here! We’re black and we’re queer!” as we were the first all-black section in a Swedish Pride Parade. All four of us who founded Black Coffee HBTQ have moved on and Samuel and I have created Black Queers Sweden, the first independent organisation and movement by and for black LGBTQ+ people.  With separatist gatherings, seminars and panel discussions around the country and a growing social media presence, our narratives are taking center stage. More black queer people dare to “come out” and we have found friendships and siblinghood amongst each other.

The #BlackLivesMatter movement is praised by black people and non-black people around the world and it is a movement for all black people. However, few people know that the movement was created by three black queer women, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. The focus has instead been on the most privileged within our community; straight black cis-men. This is not only an American phenomenon but also something that occurs here in Sweden. Even though the black anti-racist movement is meant to break these sexist, patriarchal and LGBTQ-phobic structures, we often uphold them and make the same mistakes as the black liberation movements before us. Straight black cis-men are announced as the leaders although the ground they stand on is built by black, mainly dark skinned, women, trans and queer people.

With an independent, feminist and anti-racist organisation and movement like Black Queers Sweden, the black queer movement in Sweden has now moved forward and continues to prove itself to be a force to be reckoned with in the mainstream black and queer communities. Pride may be once a year, but we live in our black and queer bodies every day. We are only getting started and have a long way to go, but the groundwork has been set. Us black queers are showing Sweden that we can stand on our own feet and are leaders of our own right, no longer to be silenced and no longer to be sidelined.


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