Imagine having two homes and not being welcomed in either one. That is undoubtedly how Black LGBT ( lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered) women feel in American society. The Black community calls them sinners. The gay community ignores Black women except when they’re funny like Wanda Sykes. Black women have always found a way to overcome racism, sexism, and homophobia to be their authentic selves.

Black lesbians have been a part of America since its founding, from Black women who fought as men in the civil war to Congresswomen like Barbara Jordan. Poets such as Audre Lorde and Nikki Giovanni have proudly written about their identities and poet Stacyann Chin continues in that tradition. Chin bravely speaks out for gay rights in America and her native Jamaica, where homosexuality is against the law. Chin speaks about the narrow definitions of gender and the traps that put Black women in throughout her poem, “ Feminist or Womanist’’ : “Girls who are only straight at night, hardcore butches be sporting dresses between 9 & 6 every day. Sometimes she is a he, trapped by the limitations of our imaginations’’. In her poetry and through her activism, Chin gives voice to ignored Black LGBT women.

Black trans women have also become more visible despite heavy criticism. Magazine editor Janet Mock came out as trans this year and detailed the pain of being different in a conservative family that disapproved. She noted that she always felt different and her outside now finally matches how she felt inside. Mock also felt the need to come out to counter the stories of gay teens who killed themselves.  Transgriot blogger Monica Roberts also speaks out for trans rights. She fights against the “ transploitation’’ of Black trans women often shown on trashy talk shows like Jerry Springer.

Audre Lorde wrote in one of her poems, “ Your silence will not protect you.’’ Silence will not protect those who judge and ignore Black LGBT women.  If marriage equality can be struck down, women’s rights will be next. If women’s rights are threatened, African-American voters can be purged from the voter rolls. The gay community must be more inclusive of Black women’s concerns, from child care to voter suppression. The Black community must re-read the Bible verse that says, “ Love your neighbor as you do yourself’’ and include LGBT issues in their agendas.  Always progressive Vice President Joe Biden called transgendered rights the “ civil rights issue of our time.’’ All civil rights are connected and African-American LGBT women prove that better than anyone else.

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  • WhatIThink

    The only problem I have with this is the fact that lesbian and homosexual black folks have never been hidden to my knowledge (especially in the entertainment industry). Look how many openly gay black folks were in the civil rights movement (whether you knew it or not).

    What is it with some people? Your sexuality is your personal business. How does having sex become some sort of “group achievement”? Can I sing and dance and jump up and down and claim pride just because I had straight sex?

    This is absolutely mindless nonsense meant to distract black folks with empty symbolism.

    • Love Sosa

      it’s not about them letting you know they had gay sex. it’s about them feeling comfortable enough to be out in the public eye and live their lives without the fear of having to deal with comments such as the one i’m replying to now.

      i’m not a homosexual, but i am an atheist, so i can sympathise with the feeling of being nervous to be open and fear the reticule of others.

    • It’s beyond commentary. As a gay black womyn I could give a fck less about what a homophobe says to me. I’m concerned about the safety and health of my LGBT folks that are discriminated against in this country. And about the emotional toll it takes on many of us who are drive to depression and suicide. Very disgusted by the lack of empathy I see for fellow human beings.

  • It’s not just about feeling comfortable, but it is about being able to live our lives fully and equitably in the country in which we are citizens. The fact that I can’t marry my partner in 41 states is discriminatory. In some states I can still be fired without recourse because I am gay. In other cities and towns I can legally be discriminated in housing and prevented from seeing and assisting my ailing partner in the hospital. I can be denied the ability to raise the children my partner gave birth to if something happens to her even though I am the only other parent they have known their entire lives. I can be denied access to our funds, property, and if I have served my country and am killed in the line of duty, she will be denied the right to collect benefits even if we have been together 5, 10, 25, 40 years. It doesn’t matter.

    That is not fair. That is inequitable. And a lot of people are living this way in this country. It is wrong. It is the same type of discrimination we faced when it was interracial marriage was illegal in this country. I have been out for 38 years. I have supported veterans, fought against domestic violence, worked in the juvenile courts, volunteered in nursing homes, cared for children, women and the elderly and have watched my siblings get married and have kids, live their lives without a hitch. I would like to be able to do the same some day. Time is running out. I wonder if I will get to see it in my lifetime.