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Life as a Queer Gypsy: Battling the inequalities within inequalities

Author: Katie

I’ll start with a short introduction to myself. I’m Katie, a 24 year old, queer individual with Gypsy hertitage. I say Gypsy heritage because I do not believe I have the ‘full’ Traveller upbringing or life, but it is in my blood and therefore, a part of me.

My mum was born on a Traveller camp and I have grown up seeing her battle with her identity. My siblings and I learnt very quickly that we should not share this side of our heritage, because ‘people will treat you differently’.

I think myself very fortunate that I was brought up in a positive, happy home where discrimination of any form was not tolerated. As a result of this, I think I was a bit naive in believing all children were raised like me.

I was around the age of 10 when I had my first experience of racism. I told a friend in primary school that I was a Gypsy and we didn't talk again. Learning first hand that people will see you differently for something you cannot control is difficult at any age.

After that, I didn’t really tell anyone. As an adult, I would feel the need to tell potential partners pretty early on when dating because I knew it could be a deal breaker. While at multiple workplaces, I’ve heard too many racial slurs to even count.

I found this really difficult to begin with. Hearing your colleagues refers to people in such degrading ways right in front of you. Of course, they never realised that I was a part of the group they were attacking.

Now, it just makes me angry. I’m past crying, I just get mad.

In 2020, we all experienced the huge public outcry after the unjust murder of George Floyd. The Black Lives Matter movement really took off after that moment and the news coverage was enormous.

The whole world seemed to be desperate for some kind of justice. Not just for this one murder, but for the years and years of dehumanising racism people of colour have faced all over the world.

Fast forward to 2021. Jimmy Carr releases his newest comedy material on Netflix titled Jimmy Carr: His Dark Material. Within this Jimmy makes a joke about finding the positives in the Holocaust. Don’t worry though, his joke wasn’t attacking the Jews.

No, he was only targeting the Gypsy, Traveller and Sinti community. A joke that received laughs from the audience. I can only imagine how different the response would have been had he said the positive part of the Holocaust was the millions upon millions of Jewish victims who were slaughtered.

That would have been different. Instead, he joked that it was brilliant news that over 500,000 Roma and Sinti victims were brutally murdered. Of course, there was total uproar from the community and external supporters.

But as expected, the outcry from the GRT community and supporters has completely blown over. We are still angry, but there have been no comments from Jimmy Carr or Netflix. The show is still being aired.

What’s most frustrating about this is that if this were an attack on another minority group it would have been taken seriously. Society just proves time and time again that they do not care enough about the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community to stand up.

They do, however, find the time to stand up for movements such as Black Lives Matter (BLM), and rightly so. Racism should not be tolerated, towards any group. But, us, as Gypsies, find ourselves once again being discriminated against.

This time in a world that actively shuns racism. We all shun racism, but society does not see us. They do not hear us. And when they do, they do not care enough to take any form of progressive action.

Meanwhile, a Traveller family within my home town of Medway, Kent are currently being forced off of land they own. Despite happily living there for 18 months and applying for planning permission multiple times, the local authority shows no attempt to consider their wishes.

It makes me so angry to see the inequalities within racism. We’ve really hit a wall where racism is socially unacceptable, but only when it attacks groups you feel are socially acceptable. When minority groups who we don’t feel are worthy are racially targeted, it’s okay.

We let it slide. In turn, leaving that group even more marginalised than they already were. I’m not sure I have the answer to such a massive problem, and one that’s been going on for far longer than we can imagine.

All I know is that I’m tired. I’m so tired of having to fight for any kind of space in this world. We should not have to fight to be who we are, nobody should. Black lives matter. Asian lives matter. Queer lives matter. We all matter.

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