In the lead-up to the NAACP’s One Nation Working Together March on Oct. 2, when 30 LGBT partner organizations will march alongside the NAACP, racial-justice organization the Applied Research Center has released a new study proving that both parties benefit when racial-justice and LGBT-justice groups combine. That coalition building works is no surprise, but what the study also discovered is that there are several serious obstacles preventing racial-LGBT partnerships:
A number of barriers to effective engagement also emerged. First, study participants, particularly interviewees, noted a lack of strategic clarity—and tools for getting to such clarity—that would help groups identify and act on the many opportunities for applying a sexuality lens to racial justice issues and vice versa. Second, community resistance, either real or perceived, was mentioned with a great deal of nuance. These concerns included the role of religious institutions, the seeming lack of demand from communities of color themselves, and the fear of causing division within racial justice memberships. Although this study did not primarily address the role of mainstream LGBT organizations in reinforcing the community’s supposed whiteness, it did arise enough that we included some thoughts from interviewees on this question. Finally, funding constraints arose as the most significant barrier for groups that do wish to engage.
While things like funding constraints are, to a degree, natural and impossible to avoid, homophobia—which is what I inferred from the sentence beginning “These concerns included … ”—is now not only hateful, but also harmful to black progress.
Certain African-American churches, like that of recently embroiled Bishop Eddie Long, can continue their anti-gay narratives if they believe it necessary to do so. But they should be aware that their hate comes at the cost of true progress for the black community.
--Cord Jefferson is a staff writer at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.