Hope Giselle, a Black and trans speaker, said that the event’s programming mirrored the historical marginalization and erasure of Black queer activists throughout the Civil Rights Movement.
She was encouraged, however, by the fact that notable speakers called attention to recent moves to roll back LGBTQ+ rights, such as assaults on gender-affirming treatment for youngsters.
Despite legitimate worries about the prominence of Black LGBTQ activists in social groups, progress in political office is being achieved.
Sen. Laphonza Butler became the first Black and openly lesbian senator in Congress this month when California Governor Gavin Newsom chose her to replace the late Dianne Feinstein’s seat.
Rectifying the erasure of Black gay civil rights heroes necessitates full recognition of their legacies as well as increased Black LGBTQ+ presence in activism and politics.
The Black queer community is still Black, and it is subjected to anti-Black racism, homophobia, and transphobia.
It is critical to clarify what it means to be queer in a culture that believes queerness is synonymous with whiteness and that being queer protects you from racism. Butler feels that her position will help the wider cause of representation.
According to the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute’s 2023 report, black LGBTQ+ political representation has increased by 186% from 2019.
This includes former New York Representatives Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres, who became the first out homosexual Black and Afro-Latino congressman after the 2020 election, as well as former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
These leaders are standing on the shoulders of civil rights icons like Bayard Rustin, Pauli Murray, and Audre Lorde. In stories of their contributions to the Civil Rights and feminist movements, their Blackness is often exaggerated, but their queer identities are frequently ignored or even eliminated.
A movie of Rustin’s life in the works would definitely assist to bring the issue of Black LGBTQ+ political representation into the public eye. Shay Franco-Clausen, a commissioner in California’s Alameda County, said that the film “Rustin” would surely help bring the issue of Black LGBTQ+ political representation into the public eye.
Certain think the erasure of Black LGBTQ+ leaders is the result of respectability politics, a practice used by certain minority groups to isolate or penalize individuals who do not fit in with the majority culture.
In Christianity, white supremacist ideology has also supported the erasure of Black queer history. Minneapolis City Council President Andrea Jenkins said that she is as purposeful about increasing queer visibility in Black venues as she is about increasing Blackness in mostly white, queer settings.
Black LGBTQ+ leaders are also utilizing their platforms to raise awareness of historic personalities, particularly Rustin.
In 2018, Maryland Delegate Gabriel Acevero and many LGBTQ+ activists lobbied to have Rustin’s lone elementary school named after him, and they asked Congress to enact legislation to establish a U.S. Postal Service stamp picturing Rustin.