Opinions are the writer’s own and not those of Blavity's.
Both Black and Queer liberation have historical milestones in June. In June of 1969, the Stonewall Riots catalyzed the modern gay liberation movement. Annual Juneteenth celebrations commemorate the day enslaved Black people in Texas finally became free, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. By viewing the milestones separately, as we do so often, we overlook the communities that live at the intersection of these identities: Black LGBTQ+ Americans.
As Alicia has said before, Black LGBTQ+ people are often viewed more by their sexual orientation than their race. So being members of both communities, we found it especially important for our two Black-Queer-led organizations, HIT Strategies and Black Futures Lab, to commission and conduct a national poll of 1,000 Black Americans with oversamples of Black LGBTQ+ audiences.
Black LGBTQ+ folks face a set of unique economic and social hardships due to systemic racism, sexism and homophobia in America’s institutions. These hardships have only deepened in the past year with the pandemic. As many Americans take to the streets to join celebrations this pride month, we hope data from our latest poll of Black LGBTQ+ can serve as an important spotlight on an often overlooked but important part of the Black and LGBTQ+ communities.
The findings show that Black LGBTQ people are more likely to have had their livelihoods impacted by the pandemic. Specifically, 35% of Black LGBTQ+ Americans said they lost a job or experienced a reduction in working hours because of the pandemic, compared with 25% of all Black respondents. Additionally, of all respondents, Black trans folks were the most likely to face this kind of economic hardship, with 41% of trans respondents saying they lost a job or experienced a reduction in work hours.
Not only are Black LGBTQ+ Americans more likely to experience economic pain, but they are also more likely to report experiencing the kind of discrimination that hinders economic prosperity. For example, discrimination in medical care, employment and harassment from police make it more difficult for LGBTQ+ people to thrive. 41% of Black trans and 34% of Black LBGQ+ Americans report being denied a job because of their sexuality. 50% of Black trans and 48% of Black LGBQ+ Americans report being provided inferior medical care because of their sexuality.
President Biden enjoys a high job approval rating among the Black LGBTQ community, but he still has room to improve. Black LGBTQ+ Americans are still waiting for Biden to deliver on many of his campaign promises — particularly those that can improve economic outcomes for this community. These stats, combined with the record number of anti-LGBTQ bills being considered by states, particularly bills that target trans youth, make it clear that the Biden administration must do more to protect and support this community.
There are many opportunities for Biden to show his support for the Black LGBTQ+ community. However, progress is far too slow for the urgent needs of Black Queer people, who are among Democrats’ most loyal voters, and the issues facing both communities affect each other.
Through our work, we plan to continue advocacy for policies to help some of the most overlooked segments and pave the way for liberation for all of Black America.
Terrance Woodbury is a founding partner at HIT Strategies, a public opinion research firm targeting young people and communities of color.
Alicia Garza is an activist who helped launch #BlackLivesMatter and the founder of Black Futures Lab, an advocacy organization.