by Q Wilson, Out & Equal Senior Program Associate | I started doing what I do nearly two decades ago. I knew as soon as I came out that I wanted to be an advocate for those LGBT people who couldn’t speak up for themselves. It wasn’t until sixteen months ago that I was given a new focus for my activist lens. I am now learning to meld my grassroots activism with what I do here at Out & Equal.
I was born, raised, and lived the majority of my life in the southeastern United States. Being an out Black woman didn’t gain me many friends that were similar. It was then, and still is in some cases, hard to even start discussions around LGBT issues when other people of color were so reluctant to even be out. For many people of color, the reluctance to engage in conversations around openly identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender centers for fear of being shunned from our community. For most people of color, our community is so very central to who we are. Knowing that, I feel training and education around LGBT issues when it comes to communities of color needs to happen in spaces in, or connected vitally to, those communities.
While those conversations have been hard to get started, there are people who have started them and are doing amazing work at keeping the conversations going — the National Black Justice Coalition, the Zuna Institute, and the National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition to name a few. I feel collaboration with these preexisting organizations is the best path to both offering a platform for them to expand their message and outreach, and for other organizations to have their messages heard in the community.