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Even Black people who don’t support queer rights oppose attacks on LGBTQ+ equality

Teen does coming out as a non-binary transgender person. A mother supports her child in the decision to change gender. Vector flat illustration. Tolerant parents. Search for yourself
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Approximately 65% of Black Americans identified themselves as “supporters of Black LGBTQ+ people and rights,” including 57% of Black Americans who go to church, according to a new study by the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC).

The Black Facts survey focused on those who identify as passive allies of Black LGBTQ+ people and found that such allies are “moveable by connecting the dots” from issues of racial justice to the support of LGBTQ+ rights. After informing respondents about the societal risks Black LGBTQ+ people face, many individuals felt moved to be more supportive, including those who self-identified as opponents of LGBTQ+ rights.

The study’s key findings emphasized that Black individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, share a desire to combat threats against their community. The survey also found that those who know Black LGBTQ+ individuals are more likely to be supportive, and that “compelling messages” about equality can move Black respondents to give more support to queer community members.

The majority of respondents expressed concern for suicide rates among Black LGBTQ+ children, including 47% of respondents who self-identified as opponents of LGBTQ+ rights.

One survey respondent, a Black man from Atlanta, said, “If your family don’t support you and you feel like they’re going to beat the gay out of you or whatever, you’re going to consider the suicide because you know what? You’re going to feel like nobody supports you.”

Among those who self-identify as LGBTQ, 86% of respondents felt that they have a shared fate with other Black individuals. However, 51% of non-LGBTQ+ Black individuals said they feel a shared fate with LGBTQ+ Black folks. A lack of interactions with Black LGBTQ+ folk reduced support for the Black queer community, but support increased with the number of ties respondents reported having to LGBTQ+ people.

Additionally, the survey found that a lack of support for Black LGBTQ+ individuals by the Black community led to increased feelings of isolation from Black queer respondents since many of the latter reported they also couldn’t trust white LGBTQ+ people to provide a supportive community for them.

“From my perspective [white LGBTQ+ support] depends on the day,” one respondent said. “Sometimes they can be your friend, and sometimes they can look the other way if you’re getting ousted by the police or somebody.”

The survey also found that the number of respondents who reported knowing a Black transgender or gender non-conforming individual is roughly the same as the average of U.S. residents who know transgender or gender non-conforming person. Reduced acquaintance with trans and non-conforming individuals resulted in lower levels of support for these queer community members.

Additionally, the survey found that 89% of Black LGBTQ+ individuals thought that “the Black community should do more to support Black LGBTQ+ people,” while 73% of Black Gen Z respondents felt the same. Additionally, 65% of all respondents felt that there was more work to be done in supporting Black LGBTQ+ individuals.

“You see the connection, you see how we are linked… I think more or less we have more in common probably than I would think just on the surface,” said a respondent, a Black woman from Philadelphia.

In a press statement about the study, NBJC CEO and Executive Director Dr. David J. Johns said, “This research study highlights the importance of turning down white noise to better appreciate the significance of Black Queer leaders at this particular moment in the maturation of our democracy. We’ve experienced the result of white and white LGBTQ+ leadership and know the tendency that white racial actors have for tapping Black people – women in particular – to clean things up.” 

“Those who purport to care about democracy, progressive progress, or collective freedom must prioritize investing in Black queer, trans, and gender-expansive leaders who have a demonstrated history of loving and advocating on behalf of the Black community,” Johns added. “This groundbreaking study provides data that should prove useful to anyone seeking to achieve equity, increase opportunities and outcomes for Black people, and strengthen democracy.”

The study itself stated that “Engaging those who may have tepid support for Black LGBTQ+ people to come off the sidelines may prove more successful than attempting to persuade strong opponents.”

Another respondent, a Black woman from Atlanta, echoed this sentiment, “When we got context and examples of how the laws, if it discriminates against this person, it sets a precedent for it to trickle down to affect people who are not gay or LGBTQ, that gave me a lot of context.”

The survey examined 1,300 Black Americans, 100 of which were from rural areas, 100 of which were unregistered voters, and 100 of which were LGBTQ+. It was conducted entirely online and had a margin of error of ±3.1% for the entire sample.

The study was conducted in partnership with organizations like Family Equality, GLSEN, the Human Rights Campaign, LGBTQ Task Force, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

“It’s a privilege to be part of this revolutionary and transformative research project by the National Black Justice Collective (NBJC), in partnership with HIT Strategies,” said Jaymes Black, Family Equality President & CEO. 

“To effectively serve and support Black LGBTQ+ families, Family Equality must clearly understand the community’s perceptions, priorities, needs, and intersectionalities,” Black said. “The survey findings will guide and strengthen our advocacy efforts, arriving at a crucial moment when both communities – Black and LGBTQ+ – need our support more than ever.”

Editor’s note: If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat at The Trans Lifeline (1-877-565-8860) is staffed by trans people and will not contact law enforcement. The Trevor Project provides a safe, judgement-free place to talk for youth via chat, text (678-678), or phone (1-866-488-7386). Help is available at all three resources in English and Spanish.

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