Queer/Trans Inclusion in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

Recognizing the importance of black queer and trans people in fighting against systemic, cultural and institutional tolerance and discrimination.

HomoCulture Triston Brewer

This article was published on July 30th, 2020

Pride and the Black Lives Matter movements were both founded by LGTBQ+ people of color and these platforms are amplifying the message that when it comes to eradicating racism, xenophobia, and privilege, all black people should be accounted for, including queer and trans people. The message and mission has ramped up in the last few months through the #BLM protests that proceeded throughout America and the globe.

Queer black people have been on the front lines of from the first days of freedom movement, but during the 1960s political climate, they were forced to take a back seat in order to optimally advance the agenda of black people at large.

The difference now is that the current Black Lives Matter movement was founded by three Black women – Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, two of which are members of the LGBTQ+ community. Under their guidance and in the current political climate, the objective is clear – to articulate blackness, our place in history, who we are, what is demanded for the future, and who should benefit from the changes. Moreover, the progression should cover everyone black person, whether they are heteronormative or live under the rainbow flag. 

Celebrities Rally Behind #AllBlackLivesMatter

On May 27th in Tallahassee, Florida, the police shot and killed trans man Tony McDade under questionable circumstances. The incident received little to no attention until celebrities used their platforms to bring his senseless death into the mainstream. Of all members of the LGBTQ+ community, black trans people are the ones typically the most overlooked, so it was viewed as a monumental effort when celebrities spoke out and called for the inclusion of black trans and queer people in the Black Lives Matter movement.

At Global Pride this year, stars like Kesha, Laverne Cox, Rita Ora, Fry, Adam Lambert, Courtney Act, Jake Shears, and LeAnn Rimes threw their support into the effort, ensuring that black LGBTQ+ people are not erased ever again from mainstream media coverage. One actor, Justice Smith, came out and opened up about his personal journey:

“We chanted ‘Black Trans Lives Matter’ ‘Black Queer Lives Matter’ ‘All Black Lives Matter. As a black queer man myself, I was disappointed to see certain people eager to say Black Lives Matter, but hold their tongue when Trans/Queer was added. If your revolution is okay with letting black trans people like #TonyMcDade slip through the cracks in order to solely liberate black cishet men, it is anti-black. You are trying to push yourself through the door of a system designed against you, and then shut the door behind you. It is in our conditioning to get as close to whiteness, straightness, maleness as we can because that’s where the power is. And if we appeal to it, maybe it’ll give us a slice. But the revolution is not about appeal. It is about demanding what should have been given to us from the beginning.”

Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock (9714358h)

What Smith expressed and many other celebrities have pointed out are the queer roots of Pride and Black Lives Matter – even at the risk of exclusion towards the betterment of their peers.

In 2020, black queer folks are reminding their constituents and the world how they have contributed across all aspects of society from music, theatre, politics, literature, film, et cetera – and they demand to be taken into account – full account – as the Black Lives Matter movement powers on. 

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