As a woman of colour, I feel we are extremely lacking in representation within the music industry, something that is in dire need of aid. In fact, women of colour, especially those of darker pigments, go overlooked and under-represented across all industries. Together we have got to start doing better to bring visibility so that the next generation of female creatives and business individuals see the potential in their possibilities – highlighting just how much they can obtain and to make an example for the rest of society to understand that we are here too and we deserve the same rights as non-POC and those who continue to go underrepresented.
Through my own personal experiences as a bisexual woman in the music industry today, I have learned that it is common for bisexual women to be fetishised within the music scene. There seems to be a misconception that being a bisexual woman means that you are open to sharing your partners for entertainment – a toxic, overgeneralisation for an entire sexuality and those who identify as such. Personally, this is not how I view myself, nor how I act within my own relationships.
Aside from the objectification of bisexual women, we as a society need to address our discriminatory views on bisexual men too. I once had my own personal negative views that I carried towards bisexual men, their acceptance, and existence within the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve had a lot of learning and unlearning to do to be able to grow to understand how I fed into this narrative that doesn’t support or encourage men to have the same experiences as myself to come out. They do not have representation, or a community to support them on the scale they need.
As nervous as I was, I feel privileged to say that I have been accepted with love and support from the majority or both my friends and family since coming out, but this is very different to the experiences of so many of my peers and other people of colour in the LGBTQ+ community. Being aware of this prior to my coming out publicly, I’ve been furiously compelled to work with more members of my community to help create safe spaces for those who do not have the same privileges I have, ones who live without acceptance and fair treatment.
Coming from a strong Arab/Afro-Caribbean background, there is just such an abundance of traditions in place that support misogynistic views that shape the treatment and societal roles for women. For example, a woman’s place being in the kitchen, or that mean are always meant to be the provider bread winner. These outdated views raise us to believe that these deals are the formula to a happy relationship and happy life.
When I started having emotional and intimate feelings towards both men and women, I felt so conflicted. I kept feeling that what I was doing was ‘wrong’ or that I would be going to hell for feelings that were completely out of my control.
I would go out of my way to denounce these feelings in a negative way, hoping that it would rid of ‘devilish’ thoughts. I know now, as an openly out bisexual woman, this was just an affectation. I realised and accepted that I was feeling what I was feeling for a reason and, because the intent of these feelings were always pure and always from a good place, there was no way they could fit with the old views of being bad or impure. I broke myself out of how I was taught to view the world and created an accepted who I was.
After leaving the UK and migrating to America, I was more exposed to people from a mosaic of backgrounds and preferences, and so it was more common to be encouraged to find my own voice and my own identity, away from any influence of the traditions and environment I was raised in. I found a family I chose on my own, that allowed me to live my truth, privately. I have them to thank for the safe spaces they provided me, allowing me to exist without feeling the pressure of labelling myself what I am or who I am to love, before I really knew who I was a person.
Being able to be out and open in my choices of love as a woman of colour is extremely important to me because doing so helps fight for the rights of my fellow POC peers in the LGBTQ+ community. Though we have so far to go, I am a firm believer that if those of us with a platform continue to use our voices and privileges to push the rights of those under-represented, we can start to diminish the stigma and societal oppressions that prevent us from all living in a safe space with our own basic human rights.
I think transparency is a key factor in healing this world of it prejudices, but it starts from within first and I feel that I’m embarking on a new chapter in my life that embraces it all to the fullest. I am me. I am my truth.
Taliwhoah is a singer and songwriter based in Los Angeles. Her new single, Love Cycle, is out now on Rostrum Records