African-American LGBT community

LGBT (also seen as LGBTQ) stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer. The LGBT community did not receive societal recognition until the historical marking of the Stonewall Riots in 1969 in New York at Stonewall Inn. The Stonewall riots brought domestic and global attention to the lesbian and gay community. Proceeding Stonewall, Romer v. Evans vastly impacted the trajectory of the LGBT community. Ruling in favor of Romer, Justice Kennedy asserted in the case commentary that Colorado's state constitutional amendment "bore no purpose other than to burden LGB persons".[1]

Advancements in public policy, social discourse, and public knowledge have assisted in the progression and coming out of many LGBT individuals. Statistics show an increase in accepting attitudes towards lesbians and gays amongst general society. A Gallup survey shows that acceptance rates went from 38% in 1992 to 52% today.[2] However, when looking at the LGBT community through a racial lens, the Black community lacks many of these advantages.[3]

Research and studies are limited for the Black LGBT community due to resistance towards coming out, as well as a lack of responses in surveys and research studies. The coming out rate of blacks is less than those of European (white) descent. The Black LGBT community refers to the African-American (Black) population who identify as LGBT, as a community of marginalized individuals who are further marginalized within their community. Surveys and research have shown that 80% of African Americans say gays and lesbians endure discrimination compared to the 61% of whites. Black members of the community are not only seen as "other" due to their race, but also due to their sexuality, making them targets for discrimination from whites and their own community.[3]

While marginalization happens from external factors such as systematic and social injustices, the black community creates disparities and division within its own community. Furthermore, religion also hinders progression within the black community for its LGBT members.[3] The wedge created by colonization through the use of religion makes the future unclear for black LGTBQ members. The major disparities, however, that will affect the mobilization of the black LGBT community are systematic and social injustices.

History

Pre-Stonewall riot

Trans-woman Lucy Hicks Anderson, born Tobias Lawson in 1886 in Waddy, Kentucky, lived her life serving as a domestic worker in her teen years, eventually becoming a socialite and madame in Oxnard, California during the 1920s and 1930s. In 1945, she was tried in Ventura County for perjury and fraud for receiving spousal allotments from the military, as her dressing and presenting as a woman was considered masquerading. She lost this case but avoided a lengthy jail sentence, only to be tried again by the federal government shortly thereafter. She too lost this case, but her and her husbands were sentenced to jail time. After serving their sentences, Lucy and her then husband Ruben Anderson, relocated to Los Angeles, where they lived quietly until her death in 1954.[4]

Harlem Renaissance

During the Harlem Renaissance, a subculture of LGBTQ African-American artists and entertainers emerged, including people like Alain Locke, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Wallace Thurman, Richard Bruce Nugent, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Moms Mabley, Mabel Hampton, Alberta Hunter, and Gladys Bentley. Places like Savoy Ballroom and the Rockland Palace hosted drag-ball extravaganzas with prizes awarded for the best costumes. Langston Hughes depicted the balls as "spectacles of color." George Chauncey, author of Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940, wrote that during this period "perhaps nowhere were more men willing to venture out in public in drag than in Harlem."[5]

During the first night of the Stonewall riots, LGBTQ African Americans and Latinos likely were the largest percentage of the protestors because those groups heavily frequented the bar. Homeless black and Latino LGBTQ youth and young adults who slept in nearby Christopher Park were likely among the protestors as well.[5]

Post Stonewall riot

In 1983, after a battle over LGB participation in the 20th anniversary March on Washington, a group of African American leaders endorsed a national gay rights bill and put Audre Lorde from the National Coalition of Black Gays as speaker on the agenda. In 1984, Rev. Jesse Jackson included LGB people as part of his Rainbow/PUSH.[6]

In 1993, Dr. William F. Gibson, national Chairman of the Board of NAACP, endorsed the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation and repealed the ban on LGB service in the military.[7]

On May 19, 2012, the NAACP passed a resolution in support of same-sex marriage.[8]

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