HRC Foundation Releases Coming Out Resource for Black LGBTQ People

by Madeleine Roberts

This resource details the unique experiences of Black people when considering coming out, including grappling with faith traditions and teachings that may condemn or reject LGBTQ identities.

Today, HRC released Coming Out: Living Authentically as Black LGBTQ People, a resource for members of the Black LGBTQ community. The launch of this valuable resource comes during Black History Month, a time when we recognize and celebrate the long history of Black leadership in the LGBTQ movement, including the ways in which Black LGBTQ and allied trailblazers have been and remain at the center of the fight for equality.

“For those of us who identify as Black and LGBTQ, coming out can present a variety of challenges, and this important resource serves as a guide as we navigate our very personal journeys to living authentically,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “Although we come from a wide range of cultural, regional and ethnic backgrounds, we often share similar experiences -- and barriers -- in coming out. But, as demonstrated time and time again by Black leaders who have always been at the front of the struggle for LGBTQ equality, we know how important it is to live as our true selves, and have our full stories told and contributions recognized.”

This HRC Foundation resource details the unique experiences of Black people when considering coming out, including grappling with faith traditions and teachings that may condemn or reject LGBTQ identities. The resource also details the ways in which Black culture and history are also inextricably tied to queer identities throughout history. The resource also discusses the ways in which Black LGBTQ people must contend with the realities of systemic racism and anti-Blackness that influence all facets of their daily lives -- including their LGBTQ identities.

“For my transgender son and for each of us, coming out and living our full identities is a process that can’t be measured,” said HRC Foundation Board of Directors Co-Chair Jodie Patterson. “But as leaders of our families, parents need to be equipped with information, understanding and a language that fits the current time. For years I stumbled, trying to grasp fundamental facts about my own transgender son. I thought being black and trans was a super wicked problem. Now I understand it to be powerful. This is the exact guide I would write -- years later with all the love and experience I’ve earned.”

The release of this guide comes just before the HRC Foundation’s seventh annual Time to THRIVE Conference kicks off on February 14 in Washington, D.C. Time to THRIVE is the HRC Foundation’s premier gathering for educators, counselors and other youth-serving professionals, bringing together these experts to discuss best practices for working with and caring for LGBTQ youth and their families in schools, community centers, health care settings and beyond. The Conference also features HRC’s Youth Ambassadors, who represent the HRC Foundation by using their voices and experiences to raise awareness about the most pressing concerns facing LGBTQ youth and HRC’s programs that promote well-being for LGBTQ youth.

“When I was coming out, I didn’t have a guide to tell me that there was more than one way to be Black and queer,” said HRC Youth Ambassador Nakiya Lynch. “It’s important that Black LGBTQ youth know that they can be who they are without sacrificing either identity, and still be valid. I’m so glad they can have guidance that’s actually applicable to their experience!”

After coming out, some LGBTQ people report that they are able to better communicate with their family and friends, leading to stronger relationships and greater mutual understanding. While many Black LGBTQ people have similarities in their coming out journeys, no two coming out experiences are identical. This guide serves as a place to begin exploring the process.