Identity Limbo: The Mixed-Race Experience in the LGBTQIA+ Community

by Dan Chan 

Moving Through the Self (2021).jpg

Moving Through The Self  (2021)

My name is Dan and I am a mixed British Chinese, queer multidisciplinary artist and I work with textiles, digital and performance. I explore my identity by unpicking stereotypes about my race, queerness and the gender binary. To understand the mixed-race experience in the LGBTQIA+ community, we must first understand what it means to be a person of colour (POC) and queer* as separate entities. This intersection is something that impacts my daily life.

The main stereotype East Asian people face is the Model Minority, which assumes they are able to assimilate into Western society through merit and by having a passive demeanour. This is false as it is used to compare POC against each other, question their ability to ‘make it’ in the Western world and disregards institutional oppression [1]. By living in a white majority society, mixed-race East Asian people are expected to fit this stereotype due to their physical difference. It can be said to be unique to the mixed-race experience as it disregards other parts of their heritage, which can cause feelings of alienation.

When behaviours and attitudes exist in mainstream society, we can see them trickle into different groups. In the LGBTQIA+ community, racism is overtly present. For instance, a common theme on dating apps is white supremacy disguised as a personal preference [2], [3]. This explicit racism is something that is experienced by many POC, myself included, which can cause an individual to begin to base their self-worth on the acceptance of their race [4]. Perhaps this is the bogeyman of the queer dating scene.

In many experiences of people who are mixed race, the stereotypes that exist in society are the same in the LGBTQIA+ community. On the outside, it can be seen as an openminded wonderland filled with rainbows, however this is untrue. White queers may only encounter POC through porn, especially in areas where white people are the majority. The issue with this, is their perceptions of POC are based on fictional sex scenes, whereby white people are generally portrayed to be dominant and POC are submissive [5] [6]. For mixed-race people, we are expected to fit these stereotypes even though part of our racial background may be the same as the individual who believes they are more dominant.

As result of being othered in society and the LGBTQIA+ community, mixed-race people can find themselves in an identity limbo, where we are part of certain groups yet we feel excluded at the same time. Although I discuss the experience of mixed-race people, much of this can be said to be a similar experience for some POC who are not of mixed heritage.

In a world where it is increasingly queerphobic, transphobic and racist, especially with the rise of anti- Asian hate crimes with the COVID-19 pandemic, we must individually take steps to help ourselves combat feelings of otherness and step into our own power. For example, we can invite in self-love through positive affirmations, talk with those who share similar experiences as an emotional release or even something more superficial, like dressing for your true self and not what is expected by society.

*Note: I use the word ‘queer’ as it best describes my sexuality and gender, and it is used in a way to reclaim power back from the word as a slur.

Follow Dan on Instagram here: @danchanartist 

Visit their website here:@danchanartist



[1] ‘Asian Americans in the Law’ by Harvard Law School in ‘The Practice’ Volume 5, Issue 1 (November – December 2018)

[2] ‘Racial Discrimination on Gay and Bi Dating Apps is Rife, New Study Finds’ by Kelleher, Patrick. Pink News Article (November 2019). gay-bisexual-dating-apps-rife/

[3] ‘Gay Communities Are Rife with Racism. Removing Grindr’s Ethnicity Filters Won’t Fix That’ by Guobadia, Otamere. GQ Article (July 2020). racism

[4] ‘Sexual Racism in Gay Communities: Negotiating the Ethnosexual Marketplace’ by Plummer, Mary Dianne (2007). Page 41.

[5] ‘Sexual Racism in Gay Communities: Negotiating the Ethnosexual Marketplace’ by Plummer, Mary Dianne.Pages 43 – 44. (2007).

[6] Black Former Gay Porn Star Calls Out Systemic Racism in Sex Work and Pleads with Studios to Cut Ties with Racist Performers’ by Kelleher, Patrick. Pink News article (June 2020). sword-raging-stallion-tim-valenti/