While Black LGBTQ people have been frequently shut out of history, queerness is front and center in the Black Lives Matter movement, an act of resistance in a world still punctuated by racism, homophobia and transphobia.
As we honor the lives of the Black LGBTQ leaders no longer with us during Black History Month, let us also remember to celebrate the people and organizations that stand on their shoulders. One notable example is the Black Youth Project (BYP) 100, “an activist member-based organization of Black 18-35 year olds, dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people.” BYP 100 is led by a national team of young Black leaders, many of who identify as part of the LGBTQ community. But BYP’s investment in LGBTQ justice does not stop with mere representation. Their recently released Agenda to Build Black Futures includes an entire section stressing the need to “support [transgender] wealth and health” through concrete policy recommendations, including the passage of federal non-discrimination protections.
But for every BYP 100, BreakOUT!, or Trans Women of Color Collective, there are hundreds – if not thousands – of Black LGBTQ people making history each and every day. While some make headlines or are affiliated with national organizations, many are not. However, all of their work is as important as it is instructive, especially as Black LGBTQ people continue to face any number of challenges.
In detailing the “herstory” of the Black Lives Matter Movement, Alicia Garza, a young, Black, queer woman, explains how she and her co-founders sought to create a movement that “affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, Black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum.” Their early and steadfast commitment to diversity, empathy, and other queer- and trans-affirming principles is a testament to which we should all bear witness.