Summer is almost here and it’s time for Pride Month! This week on the Dear Culture podcast, we’re celebrating the Black queer folks who make our lives and culture a bit more colorful. This week we’re asking: Dear Culture, are you Black, proud, and living out loud?
Pride Month began as a way to raise awareness around the fight for equality and protection under the law for the LGBTQ+ community and to commemorate the Stonewall riots of 1969. While the riots are known as a catalyst for the beginning of the movement for queer rights in the U.S., host and TheGrio Managing Editor Gerren Keith Gaynor says far too often the critical contributions of Black transwomen and transwomen of color are erased from the history of the struggle.
“Black women and Black transwomen are really the pillars of all civil rights movements,” said Gaynor pointing to the labor of Black women, femmes, and transwomen in various liberation efforts. “As a Black queer man, I honor the ancestors for what they’ve done because they’ve made it a little bit easier to be myself.”
Over the past few years, we’ve seen major strides and progress, including the legalization of same-sex marriage in all 50 states, which the Supreme Court sanctioned in 2015. However, Gaynor says the battle for full citizenship and equality still rages on.
“People like to think about sexuality and the LGBTQ+ community as just marriage equality, but there’s so much to us than being legally married,” said Gaynor. “We want to be able to work without being discriminated against. This fight is long and there’s still so much to fight for.”
Making the fight especially difficult is the ways in which queer folks of color occupy the intersection of race and sexuality, which oftentimes means facing discrimination from outside and within their own communities.
“As an ally, it’s frustrating for me to see Black cisgender, heterosexual people pretend like Black queer people and Black trans people have to choose between their Blackness and their sexuality as if there can be no duality,” said host and theGrio Social Media Director Shana Pinnock.
Gaynor agreed and encouraged folks outside of the queer community to be active in their roles as allies.
“It doesn’t mean that the struggle is over and that many of us don’t still struggle with having pride in oneself,” said Gaynor. “So, I challenge our allies to create safe spaces for us to live out loud because it’s a struggle and it’s really hard.”
However, where there is hardship there is also hope. As queer and trans folks from all walks of life gain more visibility in everything from sports to politics to entertainment, a new generation of the queer community is beginning to experience a fuller and more accurate representation of themselves in the world. The hosts pointed to the work and presence of folks such as Laverne Cox, Billy Porter, New York Congressman Ritchie Torres and Lil Nas X. Pinnock said the increase in queer visibility is something she hopes will continue.
“If this is part of the ‘gay agenda,’ I want more” Pinnock said laughing. “Because if the ‘gay agenda’ includes making sure that people are self-affirmed, making sure they feel loved, supported and making sure that people don’t feel like they’re in danger simply for living then give me the gay agenda all day.”
Have a safe and happy Pride Month!
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