The NAACP, at their 110th National Convention in Detroit, hosted a town hall on LGBT issues July 23 at Cobo Hall. The event, produced by the NAACP’s LGBTQ Taskforce, was titled The State of LGBTQ People of Color in America.
“I am so proud that the NAACP has recognized the importance of inclusivity and the richness of our civil rights movement, which includes the LGBTQ community,” said the Rev. Keron Sadler in opening remarks.
Moderating the panel was CNN political commentator and New York Times bestselling author Keith Boykin. Members of the panel included Between The Lines columnist and radio host Michelle Brown, activist Nicole Kqween Denson, LGBT Detroit Executive Director Curtis Lipscomb, PFLAG National Board Member Robert Marchman and Transgender Victim’s Advocate for Equality Michigan Jey’nce Poindexter Mizrahi.
Boykin began the panel discussion by recapping recent LGBTQ news, both the good and the bad. Lipscomb followed this recap with a note about positivity.
“Black people are optimistic people,” Lipscomb said. “They are progressive people. They always look forward. So, I think it’s important to take note of the successes we have because we should always celebrate our successes.”
When asked about the most daunting issues facing the black LGBTQ community, Lipscomb listed his top three.
“HIV infection is out of control,” he said. “That one in two black gay men is infected with HIV and the use of condoms is a consideration — is a consideration. So, I’m looking for acceptance and possible love, and that love can kill me, and there’s no outrage.
“The second thing I’m concerned with is violence. Whether it is against black trans people, against domestic partners, at the club, the violence is real. We film it and we broadcast it. We normalize it. I am really sad about this. The last thing that I think is excessive is the excessive drug use, this normalizing of drug use that it’s OK to be outside of self in public.”
For her part, Brown offered the following advice.
“One of the most important things that we have to do is reclaim and talk about that what’s facing the black community faces us,” Brown said. “If a young black man gets pulled over there is no get-out-of(-jail) free card because I’m gay. We are black.
“The challenges facing our community face our community,” Brown continued. “I am a black queer woman and I step back from none of those identities. And, I am your sister.”
“My racial-, my ethnic-, my sexual orientation and gender are interwoven in every aspect of who I am,” she said. “And I will not go to any employer, any space, any church and not bring all of me.”
NAACP Passes 3 Pro-LGBTQ Resolutions
On the same day the town hall took place, the NAACP voted unanimously on three pro-LGBTQ resolutions. The NAACP, which championed marriage equality and is a strong supporter of the Equality Act, passed resolutions in support of the transgender community and to aid in ending murders and violence against transgender women; preventing and detecting HIV infection earlier; and for the inclusion of LGBTQ Diversity and Sensitivity Training for NAACP chapters across the country.
“Anyone who purports to care about the well-being of black people must care about all of us all of the time,” said David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, an organization Boykin founded. “At a time when our community is under attack by occupants of the highest office in the country as well as the lowest depths of hatred and bigotry, it is noteworthy that the NAACP is taking meaningful steps toward intersectional social justice. Too many people think that the gains made by the white lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community are eroding civil protections for black people and these people miss the fact that as long as there have been black people there have been black LGBTQ and same-gender-loving people.
“Black LGBTQ/SGL people are vulnerable to discrimination and dying at a disproportionate rate and this does not have to be our reality,” Johns continued. “The resolutions passed by the NAACP will help to ensure that local chapters across the country do a better job of holding space and ensuring equality for all black people.”