Visibility as Privilege
Updated: Jan 5, 2021
Image Credit: Jim Davis
Lots of amazing things have happened in 2019 to make this a year to grow, challenge, increase visibility of all marginalized groups and to celebrate ourselves!
Queering Desi podcaster, Priya Arora, reminds me that “visibility is a privilege.” Visibility for my trans peers and gender non-conforming peers may not be privilege at all as clearly articulated here. What visibility means for me is the acknowledgement and respect of who you are. Visibility for me means society hears and sees me. Visibility for me means society may represent and reflect my identities back to me. To me, visibility means belongingness. And belongingness is power.
As a cis, queer, woman of color it is easy to see where I don’t fit in. Whenever someone points out verbally or nonverbally my marginalized identities, I tend to remember those moments more easily. When I focus on these oppressive moments, I know I cannot, as easily, see how much power I have through my privileges. And if I miss out on how powerful I am, I miss opportunities to effect change. While I, of course, worry about my safety sometimes, and the struggles my daughter will face by having two queer moms of color and growing up to be a person of color herself, I must also reflect daily on my many privileges. One of them being visibility, specifically in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY.
In my small neighborhood, I am visible because I feel acknowledged as a QPOC wherever I go: the public library, the grocery store, our daycare, the wine store, or the corner store. I consistently pass people on the street who reflect some of my marginalized identities. Not only are we not in danger because of our QPOC identity, we are celebrated because of it. I can speak freely about my identities without fear for my safety.
This privilege of visibility changes as we travel outside our neighborhood, some places are less safe and we are always aware of that. But by relishing the visibility we have already, we sit in a place of privilege and it is this power that pushes me to advocate for others’ safety.
In the next series of blog posts we will continue our conversations about identity, perceived identity, privilege, and the power we have to effect change around us. What does visibility mean to you?