Origins of Intersectionality
Black Sexuality and Origins of Discrimination
Setting the Stage for Negative Attitudes About Black Sexuality
Countering the Negativity About Black Sexuality
African-American LGBTQ Community
The African-American LGBTQ community is part of the overall LGBTQ culture. LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. The LGBTQ 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. 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.
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."
Black Lesbian Identity
There has historically been a lot of racism and racial segregation in lesbian spaces. Racial and class divisions sometimes made it difficult for Black and white women to see themselves as on the same side in the feminist movement. Black women faced misogyny from within the black community even during the fight for Black liberation. Homophobia was also pervasive in the black community during the Black Arts Movement because “feminine” homosexuality was seen as undermining Black power. Black lesbians especially struggled with the stigma they faced within their own community. With unique experiences and often very different struggles, Black lesbians have developed an identity that is more than the sum of its parts – Black, lesbian, and woman. Some individuals may rank their identities separately, seeing themselves as Black first, woman second, lesbian third, or some other permutation of the three; others see their identities as inextricably interwoven.
Black Transgender People
Black transgender individuals face higher rates of discrimination than black LGB individuals. While policies have been implemented to inhibit discrimination based on gender identity, transgender individuals of color lack legal support. Transgender individuals are still not supported by legislation and policies like the LGBTQ community. New reports show vast discrimination in the black transgender community. Reports show in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey that black transgender individuals, along with non-conforming individuals, have high rates of poverty. Statistics shows a 34% rate of households receiving an income less than $10,000 a year. According to the data, that is twice the rate when looking at transgender individuals of all races and four times higher than the general Black population. Many face poverty due to discrimination and bias when trying to purchase a home or apartment. Thirty-eight percent of black trans individuals report in the Discrimination Survey being turned down property due to their gender identity, while 31% of the Black individuals were evicted due to their identity.
Black transgender individuals also face disparities in education, employment, and health. In education, Black transgender and non-conforming persons face brutish environments while attending school. Reporting rates show 49% of black transgender individuals being harassed from kindergarten to twelfth grade. Physical assault rates are at 27% percent, and sexual assault is at 15%. These drastically high rates have an effect on the mental health of black transgender individuals. As a result of high assault/harassment and discrimination, suicide rates are at the same rate (49%) as harassment to Black transgender individuals. Employment discrimination rates are similarly higher. Statistics show a 26% rate of unemployed black transgender and non-conforming persons. Many Black trans people have lost their jobs or have been denied jobs due to gender identity: 32% are unemployed, and 48% were denied jobs.
Black Gay Pride Movement
The Black Gay Pride movement is a movement within the United States for African American members of the LGBTQ community. Started in the 1990s, Black Gay Pride movements began as a way to provide Black LGBTQ people an alternative to the largely white mainstream LGBTQ movement. White gay prides enforce, both consciously and unconsciously, the long history of ignoring the people of color who share in the experiences. The history of segregation seen in other organizations such as nursing associations, journalism associations, and fraternities is carried on into the black gay prides seen today. The exclusion of people of color in gay pride events plays into the existing undertones of white superiority and racist political movements. In response, the movement serves as a way for black LGBT people to discuss specific issues that are more unique to the black LGBT community and celebrate the progress of the black LGBTQ community. While the mainstream gay pride movement, often perceived as overwhelmingly white, has focused much of its energy on same-sex marriage, the Black Gay Pride movement has focused on issues such as racism, homophobia, and lack of proper health and mental care in Black communities.
Today, there are about 20 Black Gay Pride events all over the United States. The largest of these events have historically been D.C. Black Pride and Atlanta Black Pride. While black pride events started as early as 1988, D.C. Black Pride, which began in 1991, has been cited as one of the earliest celebrations. The D.C. Black Pride celebration started out of a tradition called the Children's Hour 15 years prior.
Economic Disparities within the African-American LGBTQ Community
Within the Black LGBTQ community many face economic disparities and discrimination. Statistically Black LGBTQ individuals are more likely to be unemployed than their non-Black counterparts. According to the Williams Institute, the vast difference lies in the survey responses of “not in workforce” from different populations geographically. Black LGBTQ individuals, nonetheless, face the dilemma of marginalization in the job market. As of 2013, same-sex couples' income is lower than those in heterosexual relationships with an average of $25,000 income. For opposite-sex couples, statistics show a $1,700 increase. Analyzing economic disparities on an intersectional level (gender and race), the Black man is likely to receive a higher income than a woman. For men, statistics shows approximately a $3,000 increase from the average income for all Black LGBTQ identified individuals, and a $6,000 increase in salary for same-sex male couples. Female same-sex couples receive $3,000 less than the average income for all Black LGBTQ individuals and approximately $6,000 less than their male counterparts. The income disparity amongst black LGBTQ families affects the lives of their dependents, contributing to poverty rates. Children growing up in low-income households are more likely to remain in the poverty cycle. Due to economic disparities in the black LGBTQ community, 32% of children raised by gay Black men are in poverty. However, only 13% of children raised by heterosexual Black parents are in poverty and only 7% for white heterosexual parents.
Comparatively looking at gender, race, and sexual orientation, Black women same-sex couples are likely to face more economic disparities than Black women in an opposite sex relationship. Black women in same-sex couples earn $42,000 compared to Black women in opposite-sex relationships who earn $51,000, a twenty-one percent increase in income. Economically, Black women same-sex couples are also less likely to be able to afford housing. Approximately fifty percent of black women same-sex couples can afford to buy housing compared to white women same-sex couples who have a seventy-two percent rate in home ownership.
Adultification Bias of Black Girls
Black American Experiences of Racial Discrimination Vary by Education Level and Gender
Contributors and Attributions
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