Top Ten Facts
- Washington DC is one of the areas that is more heavily concentrated with the LGBTQ African American population over other cities.
- LGBTQ black Americans are faced with health inequalities- in Atlanta, a black gay man has a 60% chance of developing HIV by the age of 30
- One in 6 transgender Americans has been to prison and one in two transgender black Americans has been to prison.
- In the past, the Christian church has implemented anti-gay agendas, but recently, the acceptance and support for marriage equality among the Christian church has increased.
- James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin were the only openly gay black men who attended the March on Washington in 1963 and both had a very prominent presence there.
- Bayard Rustin was an openly gay leader in American civil rights movements and gay rights movements
- James Baldwin was an African American novelist and through his writing, he explores social issues including race and sexual distinctions.
- Black men have the highest incidence of cancer of all other racial groups.
- In the speech called “The New Niggers are Gay” Bayard Rustin discusses the way in which social change should be framed while keeping vulnerable groups, like the gay community, in mind.
- “coming out of the closet” is actually quite a political statement, considering for many queer people, that closet was never inhabited.
While African American LGBTQ already face certain oppressions from that status, they can face additional oppressions such as health inequalities/HIV. This stood out to me from the reading because I am a volunteer scribe at a free HIV clinic and I have taken note of the demographic population of that community that attends this clinic. Not only have I noticed it, but demographically, it has been shown that black gay men are one of the groups that are most affected by HIV. For example, in Atlanta a gay black man has a 60% chance of developing HIV by the age of 30, which is a scarily high percentage. This is interesting because within the same population, a black gay man is more likely to practice safe sex than his white counterpart.
There are many inequalities in healthcare, but this really stood out to me as being very sad. Not only do black gay men face the inequality of being more likely to develop this virus, but also face inequality in receiving health treatment in general. In my Biology of Cancer class here at VCU, I have learned about how black men have the highest incidence of cancer of all other racial groups and it has also been shown that the LGBTQ population have a higher incidence rate in cancer/higher death rates. This shows deep issues that are embedded in our healthcare system that need to be changed.
Another form of oppression that stood out to me that affects the black LGBTQ community is the higher incarceration rates among black transgender people. From my personal research, I learned that “one in six transgender Americans- and one in two black transgender people- has been to prison” (Lambda Legal). That statistic was very eye opening because that means that 50% of all black transgender people have been to prison. This makes a statement on the way in which black transgender people are discriminated against in the legal system. The discrimination in the United States society obviously has major impacts on not only people of color, but also people who are a part of the LGBTQ. I can only imagine how much discrimination people face at the intersection of these two minority groups.
Human rights campaign: https://www.hrc.org/resources/hrc-issue-brief-hiv-aids-and-the-lgbt-community
VCU Biology of Cancer class powerpoint: *unable to provide link as it is a private class powerpoint*
Bayard Rustin was an openly gay leader in American civil rights movements and gay rights movements. Rustin even worked directly with Martin Luther King Jr. He gave a speech called “The New Niggers are Gay” during which he discusses the way in which social change should be framed while keeping vulnerable groups, like the gay community, in mind. He is famously known for designing the March on Washington in 1963. Rustin is quoted saying, “30 years ago, the barometer of human rights in the United States were black people. That is no longer true. The barometer for judging the character of peope in regard to human rights is now those who consider themselves gay, homosexual, lesbian,” which I think is a very powerful and empowering quote.
James Baldwin was an African American novelist and through his writing, he explores social issues including race and sexual distinctions. One of his books, Remember This House, was adapted for cinema and the adaptation was an Academy Award nominated documentary film. He is also famously known for the novel, “Giovanni’s Room.” James Baldwin also attended the March on Washington that was organized by Bayard Rustin. Interestingly enough, Baldwin and Rustin were the only two openly gay men at the march. A powerful quote that Baldwin states in The Fire Next Time is as follows: “The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.”
Tree Alexander and Carlton Rolle are a couple living in New York City. They are also parents of 4 adorable children. I really appreciate the photo journal “Queer Love in Color” in the New York Times. It really provides a beautiful depiction of African American gay love. Through reading this, it becomes very clear that gay love is just like heterosexual love. For example, for the family portrait of Alexander and Rolle, the kids are dancing around and it is difficult to keep them still while the parents are proudly beaming in the background. This is the scene of any family portrait!
Black and Trans
I learned that in the Western world, society has set out 2 genders: boy and girl, and so for trans people that can be very difficult to maneuver, especially for non-binary identifying individuals. Something very important that I learned from Mama, Can We Talk, is that while most transgender people are either trans men or trans women, I did not know that there was also a category of trans non-binary or non-gender conforming. This was very eye opening to me and something new and important that I learned. Also, as a pre-medical student beginning medical school next year, it was also very interesting for me to learn about how the hormone replacement therapy works and I think that the person who made the documentary did a very good job explaining it.
Something that really stood out to me relating to the problem of intersectionality occurred in Mama, Can We Talk? When the mother was discussing the way in which her friends talk about how certain types of gay people are “ok” such as female queer people while other types of gay people are “not ok” such as male queer people. The response to that statement was very powerful because they explained the way in which it is a dangerous thought process to create separating and dividing groups within the LGBTQ community. I have also never thought about the political-ness of the statement “coming out of the closet” considering for many queer people, that closet was never inhabited. This statement makes it seem like there is a rebellious act taking place by “coming out” and I never had previously thought about the implications of this statement nor have I thought about the political aspect of the statement. My eyes have really been opened this week and I have much to think about.
60% of us really do have diverse family structures and I see that every day all around me with my friends and the people I associate with as well as these readings. I really do believe that these articles and videos helped me understand intersectionality and black queer love better and I will carry these ideas with me for life.