HRC Youth Ambassador Nakiya Lynch spoke with us about the effect of limited visibility on the mental health of Black queer people.
Post submitted by Pallavi Rudraraju, HRC Youth Well-Being Program Coordinator
As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to swell across the country, Black LGBTQ voices are rising and bringing attention to the often-overlooked needs of their community. In June, we sat down with HRC Youth Ambassador Nakiya Lynch to speak with them on the intersection of their identities as a Black queer person, and how these intersections play a role in mental health and well-being.
Lynch spoke with us about the effect of limited visibility on the mental health of Black LGBTQ people and those with less privilege and visibility. Although Black LGBTQ folks may be some of the most vulnerable demographics within the Black community, their well-being is not always prioritized or even mentioned.
Lynch sometimes feels as if it’s a balancing act and that they need to “choose between what [they] sacrifice for this movement in visibility and what [they] want to push forward in order to get more rights.” They stress, however, that Black women and Black LGBTQ people have always been at the forefront of Black and civil rights issues, and that it is the time for their needs and experiences to be heard, rather than sacrificed for the sake of the movement.
“To be Black, to be AFAB (assigned female at birth), to be a queer person in this world feels like I’m under assault. It literally feels like people are just assaulting me all the time. I see my death on the TV. I see my death on social media. I see the way I’m disrespected in the world. I see the way I’m treated. I see the way desirability affects my like treatment. I see all these things… So I honestly have to pick and choose what parts of [my] personality that I want to use to support the movement.”
The LGBTQ community also has work to do in terms of intersectionality and uplifting its most vulnerable voices, according to Lynch. Lynch described their first steps into the LGBTQ community, expecting it to be a safe space from prejudice, only to be rudely awakened by racism within the community early on. Lynch recounts many instances of being the only Black LGBTQ person in the room and feeling doubly isolated within the community.
However, Lynch looks towards the current intermingling of the Black Lives Matter Movement with the fight for LGBTQ equality with hope, saying, “I am very happy. I think it was a long time coming and it needed to happen because I feel like a lot of people who support theBLM movement forget that [two of the] co-creator[s] of the BLM movement are queer wom[e]n. And I also think that a lot of LGBTQ activists at the forefront of the movement were primarily white gay men who seem to have forgotten that race exists.”
Lynch left us with the final message, “[W]e get so distracted by… trying to find our way into a more privileged status within what we have right now instead of recognizing that this movement is about dismantling the system that oppresses us.”
To learn more about Nakiya Lynch's story, watch their speech from our 2020 Time to THRIVE Conference: