As we embark on Black History Month this year, it’s important to stress that honoring Black LGBTQ+ lives and their contributions to our collective freedom goes beyond the next 28 days–this should be a year-long celebration.
For generations, LGBTQ+ movements have adopted the civil rights movement’s strategies, relying on much of the foundation laid by Black activists from the past… and the present. From Bayard Rustin to Audre Lorde to James Baldwin, there is a rich history of how Civil Rights, Black feminism, and other social justice movements have paved the way for broader freedoms for our community as a whole. Most importantly, activists such as Marsha P. Johnson and Miss Major who bravely called out the shortcomings of LGBTQ+ movements in hopes of ensuring the most vulnerable are not forgotten or overlooked. This continues to be a work in progress.
In addition, Black queer people have been influential trendsetters, thought leaders, artists, authors and politicians that have created so much change along the way. Just think: How different would our world be without Pauli Murray, Alvin Ailey, Barbara Jordan, Bessie Smith, and Marlon Riggs? They walked so that Lil Nas X, Michaela Jay, Raquel Willis, Zaya Wade, and Malcolm Kenyatta could run. And as this generation unapologetically lives out loud, they will pass the torch to the next generation who can be it because they grew up seeing it.
To honor the past, present and future, Lambda Legal is planning the following Black History Month content throughout February and beyond:
- Series of BHM blog posts that will discuss how Black LGBTQ+ icons have influenced our staff, the best Black queer films, and more.
- Where Are They Now?” A social media series sharing the stories of Lambda Legal’s Black plaintiffs and how our work has impacted their lives.
- “Writing Our Way Into Freedom: The Power Of Black Queer Authors:” A virtual event with some Black LGBTQ+ authors discussing adding to the Black queer canon, the push against critical race theory ushering in widespread book banning, and more. (TBA)
As Lambda Legal continues to win new protections for the most vulnerable in our community and defend our community from attacks designed to roll back our hard-won rights, we are proud to honor the courage and strength of our Black clients and Black people whose names we will never know, who, in the face of discrimination on the basis of their race, in addition to their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or HIV status, fought to make the case for equality.