OPINION: We Need More Queer BIPOC Representation In Music Today
No doubt about it – there’s a lack of queer BIPOC representation in mainstream music…
By Roney X
Brought to you by Fido
Click here to read this article in French/Cliquez ici pour lire l’article en français
Music has always been a huge escape for me. It’s contributed to the many passions I have in my life. It has been through this art form that I now know I’m meant to share it with the world! However, it hasn’t always been this easy – and it still isn’t. When you are an up-and-coming Black artist, you are faced with many different and difficult challenges. Try adding queer into the mix – comes with even more challenges.
As I’ve spoken to other queer-identifying BIPOC artists, topics that always seem to come up are the lack of opportunities and exposure we so desperately desire…and the need for inclusion once we are in those spaces. Also, why it is so hard for queer BIPOC to cross over into the mainstream realm. I want to be the voice for the underprivileged and those who feel discouraged within their artistic journeys.
When taking in the full scope of my career, I find that there is far more queer BIPOC representation in both dance and acting than in other art forms. With dance and acting you’re able to create different characters, allowing the audience or viewer to be really submerged in the work presented. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in all-Black dance and theatre ensembles, and have seen many BIPOC representations both live and on screen. But although there is representation, a struggle within the dance art form is the lack of funding for BIPOC dancers/choreographers/artistic directors etc.
The music industry has its own struggles. Trust me.
Trying to manoeuvre through the music industry as a solo queer Black artist is disheartening when the only queer North American representations shown are queer white artists. Queer white artists are more socially acceptable now; they appear to have more opportunities and are making waves in mainstream media. I make music for everyone and can’t stress enough how much I’m all for inclusivity. There are still barriers and odds against queer BIPOC artists. We have to work 10 times harder to be seen as valuable. We are not nearly as pushed into the spotlight or featured as often as queer white mainstream artists. We are all extremely talented artists striving for the same platforms and exposure, but that seems to come easier and be more palatable for not only white artists but queer white artists in particular. It’s hard for others to take seriously the music we make or our creativity. There are so many of us that deserve more than what we’re offered. We have to face so many obstacles before we can be seen or heard.
A recurring obstacle can be harsh critiques from our cisgendered straight counterparts in the same industry, who either don’t know what to do with artists who are queer BIPOC because they cannot relate, or who don’t fight hard enough to get us into the rooms of the important executives, labels, managers etc. In order to be taken seriously, we as queer BIPOC artists have to make “gender neutral” music so that everyone feels comfortable.
We would like more inclusive performance opportunities; why should we have to settle for only the occasional Pride events?
Again, I make it a point to make music for everyone; I don’t want anyone to ever feel left out. Throughout the years I’ve learned that it is very important to find support within our own communities first. The good thing that I am seeing now is a bit more representation in the music industry. But we still have a long way to go. If we continue to push through, support and uplift each other, we will definitely be able to garner mainstream success!
RONEY X is a Grenadian-born, Toronto-based singer-songwriter, rapper and performer. His professional acting and dance career has allowed him to perform on stages all over the world. His sound is R&B/soul, pop, and rap with an island flare. Be sure to follow him @roneyxmusic on all social media platforms and check out his debut EP Paradise, out now everywhere!