Published online by Cambridge University Press: 29 October 2010
This work examines the strategies Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people use in Black environments to proclaim a gay identity that is simultaneous with a Black identity. It identifies three distinctive features of LGBT protest in Black communities. Black gay2 protest takes on a particular form when individuals are also trying to maintain solidarity with the racial group despite the threat of distancing that occurs as a result of their sexual minority status. Black sexual minorities who see their self-interests as linked to those of other Blacks use cultural references to connect their struggles to historical efforts for Black equality and draw from nationalist symbols and language to frame their political work. They believe that increasing their visibility in Black spaces will promote a greater understanding of gay sexuality as an identity status that can exist alongside, rather than in competition with, race. The findings of this research have implications for larger discussions of identity, protest, and gay sexuality in intraracial contexts.
This research was funded by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Center for Health Improvement of Minority Elderly/Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research, under NIH/NIA Grant P30-AG02-1684, the Joan Heller-Diane Bernard Fellowship in Lesbian and Gay Studies at the City University of New York and the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA. Darnell Hunt, Ana-Christina Ramon, Tiffany Willoughby-Herard, Aisha Finch, Maylei Blackwell, and the members of the Southern California Women of Color Writing Group read and provided helpful comments on earlier drafts of this work. Three anonymous reviewers from the Du Bois Review also provided comments that helped strengthen this paper. Gary Gates provided tabulations of data from the 2007 California Health Interview Survey that are important to this work. I thank Yardenna Aaron, Jasmyne Cannick, Lisa Powell, Jeffrey King, the Here to Stay Coalition and the Black LGBT community in Los Angeles for granting me access to their lives and experiences and for supporting this research.