By Ariel Hall
New hashtags are circulating in the #Black Lives Matter movement to include Black lives that have been historically marginalized within the community: #Black LGBTQ Lives Matter.
“I hope when y’all are out here screaming ‘Black Lives Matter’ that you are talking about ALL black lives, and by all black lives, I mean black women, black men, gay black women, gay black men, black trans men, black trans women, etc.,” tweeted @Cuyler_Nichole on June 24. “Because I’m sure there are people out here screaming black lives matter but are discriminating our black brothers and sisters of the LGBTQ+ community … they matter too.”
Historically, LGBTQ+ members of the Black community have experienced ostracization, bullying, isolation and violence, according to studies. LGBTQ youth of color and transgender teenagers report the highest levels of rejection and isolation, in a poll of 12,000 respondents ages 13 to 17. The 2017 study drew from all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
“Only 11% of youth of color surveyed believe their racial or ethnic group is regarded positively in the U.S,” according to the 2017 LGBTQ Teen Survey, the largest of its kind, conducted by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation and the University of Connecticut.
“A black gay person who is a sexual conundrum to society is already long before the question of sexuality comes into it, menace and marked because he’s black or she’s black,” said James Baldwin, an gay African American novelist, on being black and gay in James Baldwin: The Last Interview.
“The sexual question comes after the question of color; it’s simply one more aspect of the danger in which all black people live,” he said.
Higher rates of bias
While members of the LGBTQ+ community experience higher rates of bias, violence and suicide, Black LGBTQ+ members experience even higher incidence, according to the U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS).
USTS respondents were more than twice as likely as the U.S. population to be living in poverty. But people of color — including Latino/a (43 percent), American Indian (41 percent), multiracial (40 percent) and Black (38 percent) — were more than three times as likely as the U.S. population (12 percent) to be living in poverty, the report said.
In 2016, when the survey was taken, unemployment among transgender people of color (20 percent) was four times higher than the U.S. unemployment rate (5 percent).
Human Rights Watch reports that most transgender deaths in 2018 were Black transgender.
A national survey by Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found 75 percent of transgender youth feel unsafe at school. Their grade-point averages were significantly lower, they were more likely to miss school out of fear and less likely to continue their education.
“RIP to Nigel Shelby. At 15 he took his own life due to constant horrific bullying for being gay,” hip-hop artist @Drebae tweeted on June 18. “His school IGNORED his cries for help. He deserved to be loved & appreciated. When you say ‘Black Lives Matter’ don’t forget the LGBT ones.”
Drebae also cited the stabbing death of Kirvan Fortuin in Cape Town, South Africa.
“Kirvan Fortuin was a 28 year old professional dancer & activist. His life was taken by a 14 year old girl who stabbed him for being gay. Homophobia is TAUGHT. ALL ‘Black Lives Matter’ Stop poisoning your children with hateful ideals because lives are LOST,” Drebae tweeted.
‘Appalling at best’
On June 4, Pose actor Billy Porter posted a video to his Instagram account addressing the Black Lives Matter protests, the Black LGBTQ+ community, and the attack on a Black transgender woman named Iyanna Dior.
“The black community’s relationship with the LGBTQ+ community is appalling at best and eerily similar to that of white supremacists versus black folk,” Porter wrote.
“Hear me, black people, and hear me well. I’m calling you out right here and right now. You cannot expect our demands of equality to be met with any real legislative policy and change when y’all turn around and inflict the same kind of hate and oppression on us,” Porter said in the video captioned, “This is my message to America.”
“The tragic reality here is that black trans, as well as gender nonconforming, women and men are being killed in the United States by cis black men to such a degree that it is nearly the worst emergency for trans women on the planet,” he added.