Post submitted by bestselling author and activist George M. Johnson.
I began this Black History Month thinking about my own story, particularly my childhood and what the world so often takes away from Black queer youth like me.
I spent my teen years in survival mode, constantly suppressing my full identity. When you are at the intersection of Blackness and queerness, not only are you walking around in the body society has deemed a menace, you are further stifled by having to adapt to relentless heterosexual norms you were never meant to fit in to. Every day can feel like a battle you never wanted any part of.
When I wrote my memoir "All Boys Aren’t Blue," I did so with purpose. I wanted to break down my own young Black queer experience and show readers how they can fight for themselves or be advocates in the struggle for equity and equality. They are not alone and they need to know that.
That is why I am working with the Human Rights Campaign this Black History Month to put in the work of transforming our society for the better and to challenge you — no matter who you are — to ask yourself a question: Are you doing your part to uplift and fight for Black lives?
I am heartened to see how the organization has grown in this space over the last few years, but there is still more work to be done. With Alphonso David at its helm, racial justice is not only on the table; it’s a paramount goal and I am happy to see them show up for Black people and other multiply marginalized people more than ever before. Check out some of their resources made especially for the Black LGBTQ community here.
Just a few weeks ago, the Human Rights Campaign announced its $3.2 million grant from Gilead Sciences, Inc. that will directly fund the efforts of the HRC Foundation – HRC’s educational arm – aimed at ending the HIV epidemic, particularly in the Black and Latinx community, as well as fund the organization’s dynamic Transgender Justice Initiative. As a non-binary person living with HIV, it is imperative that we continue working in both spaces.
This is what we need more of from partners and advocates because this work shouldn’t be on Black queer people alone. We need non-queer and non-Black people to help dismantle the systems that oppress us… because the costs are far too great if we do not fight this together.
The fight must continue and it will take all of us. It is difficult sometimes, without a doubt, but I make sure I never forget my power … and I hope you never forget yours. This Black History Month and beyond, let’s live into the legacy of the Black trailblazers who have come before us and deliver on the promise of a better world.
George M. Johnson is a journalist, author and HIV and LGBTQ+ activist living in Newark, New Jersey. They write on topics ranging from race, gender, sex, HIV, intersectionality, politics, culture, health, and pop culture, and are never afraid to “go there.” Learn more here.