June is National Pride Month where we celebrate our friends and family members who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ). This year has been especially trying for LGBTQ folks and their allies due to the growing number of murders of Black women who identify as transgender. There seem to be few protections for our loved ones, and sadly the awareness of disproportionate discrimination has not made its way fully into the public consciousness.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, in 2019 roughly 27 Black transgender or gender non-conforming people were fatally shot or killed by other violent means. These numbers did not include individuals whose cases were not reported. The victims of these hate crimes are also overwhelmingly young Black people, under 30 years of age. Their lives have been ended due to hate and ignorance, and it is time we all speak up for injustice and inequality. Last week in Brooklyn, one of the largest rallies was convened, where 15,000 people marched to bring attention and awareness to the countless people who have been murdered in the past few years.
Despite the inequities still faced by people who identify as LGBTQ, there are some political glimmers of hope. Last week the U.S. Supreme Court decided a landmark case extending protections to members of the LGBTQ community in the workplace. Justice Gorsuch wrote in his opinion, “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”
Just as Black Lives Matter activists are fighting for basic equality in this country, so too are LGBTQ Americans, many of whom are both Black and LGBTQ. There are organizations who have been fighting for and protecting Black LGBTQ members in New York City for years and their work should be highlighted. FIERCE is “an LGBTQ youth of color-led organization. We build the leadership, political consciousness, and organizing skills of LGBTQ youth. In New York City, we organize local grassroots campaigns to fight police harassment and violence and increased access to safe public space for LGBTQ youth.”
FIERCE works to protect young, Black, LGBTQ New Yorkers, while The GRIOT Circle is doing similar work to protect the elderly. The GRIOT Circle is a community-based, multigenerational organization serving LGBTQ elders of color; 90% of all GRIOT members are from low income households and 50% of GRIOT members are retired and live on fixed incomes.
Now more than ever we need to support all members of our diverse communities in words, actions, and financial resources if possible. You can support LGBTQ youth and the elderly at fiercenyc.org and griotcircle.org. Happy Pride Month.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, political editor at The Grio, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC.