An article written by Elisabeth Grima.
Being an activist requires a person to put themselves in the public eye, to be subject to questions about their experiences and opinions, and to be a voice for those who are in the same boat. It is not an easy task, especially if you’re a minority activist, as you will be the centre of attention when your topic gets discussed. Putting yourself out there to receive both support and hate can be daunting. With activists forming part of very small minorities, the pressure is doubled. In Malta there is a noticeable lack of intersex and disabled LGBTIQ+ activists amongst other minority identities. What is the reason behind this? Do LGBTIQ+ organisations not encourage minorities to speak up and share their experiences? Are there other factors stopping minorities from becoming activists?
In recent years, LGBTIQ+ organisations in Malta have broadened their composition to include several intersectional identities within the LGBTIQ+ sphere. Besides the diversity of activists, there has also been a wider representation and awareness on other intersectionalities that are not yet represented, through platforms such as social media and books. Local organisations work hard to give a voice to minority LGBTIQ+ identities in hopes that they come out publicly, but their efforts are at times in vain. As mentioned previously, it is more difficult for very small minorities, especially when they might be victims of stigma or not accepted by those around them.
Double discrimination might be the result of someone who puts themselves out there as an activist with multiple minority identities. This can also be the case for LGBTIQ+ activists who are of colour, of different religions, or migrants. LGBTIQ+ organisations understand that at times it is more difficult for some people to advocate for their own needs, and so they strive to be their voice through awareness and representation. Organisations do encourage minorities to speak up and share first-hand experiences to keep on being more inclusive and to understand their needs even better.
Whilst LGBTIQ+ organisations want to give a voice to previously unheard identities, these minorities often find it very challenging to do so. Public exposure can bring with it negative reactions, so people need to be sure of it before entering the public sphere. Thankfully, LGBTIQ+ organisations in Malta intend to keep promoting diversity and intersectionality even for those individuals who are not yet represented locally, in an attempt to cater for the needs of those who cannot speak for themselves as well as for the rest of the LGBTIQ+ community.
Grima, E. (2021) LGBTIQ+ Activism in Malta: Is It Still Necessary? The Activists’ Perspective. University of Malta.