Darnell L. Moore is the author of “No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America” and the host of “Being Seen” podcast.
Today, Black America is seeing a convergence of so many beautiful social and political movements. Though we have overcome much in the past few decades, we still have much to see. The celebration of LGBTQ+ pride—Black, queer, trans, non-binary folk, and also allies—is pivotal. Pivotal within the Black community writ large, largely because Black LGBTQ+ Pride is a moment to make visible and legible, and celebrate Black LGBTQ+ people. It’s also true that so many folks within the LGBTQ+ community have been at the center of movements organizing in communion with Black people in general—all Black people.
I’m a person who has spent a lot of my life fighting on behalf of Black folks, regardless of how they identify. It’s often been the case that many of those same people have not done the same for me and other Black trans, queer and non-binary people. There isn’t the reciprocity you would expect. Let me be clear: I’m so grateful for the people in my life who get it.
When we think about Black liberation, I have to ask the question, “Whose the ‘we’ are we referring to in terms of this liberation? Who do we center in those visions? It’s often not queer and trans people, right?” This is what concerns me. It’s rare that queer, trans and non-binary folk are considered in the fight for Black freedom. The idea of Black liberation is still myopic; it’s still in many ways, centering some of us and not all of us.
To borrow from Robin D.G. Kelley:
“My freedom dream is that we exist in a world where particularly those Black folk who exist (on the edges of the edges of the margins) are imagined as also being part of the center of our visions for freedoms. So maybe what I’m asking for is a call to action. Let this pride be a moment for all of us. Let’s expand our visions of freedom, our visions of liberation, to expand our freedom dreams in such a way that it also includes Black LGBTQ+ folk in it. The moment we say “Black lives matter” is one that must include our imagining the lives of Black trans folk, trans women, non-binary folk as essential to our collective freedom; you can’t have your fist up in the air, talking about “Black Lives Matter” if you are still antagonistic against queer and trans folk. I think that’s the challenge that I would like to offer.”
I remember organizing in the epicenter of the Black Lives Matter movement when the world was focused on police violence. Michael Brown Jr. had just been murdered, and America was having one of many moments to come.
On Twitter, Black trans women began to ask, “Where are we in this movement?” They started the hashtags #blacktranswomen #blacktranslivesmatter to bring light to their exclusion to the cause. When I began putting the hashtag out there on social media, I had a few folks respond, “What are you doing? This is distracting us from the real fight.” But it doesn’t, and that was so damning to me.
On occasion, within public spaces and marches, I’ve had to say that our visions of Black liberation are shortsighted. They’re not necessarily including all of us beyond cis, straight, able people. For instance, do we even think about Black disabled bodies? How about the Black poor or our kin who are living in housing projects? And, what about the incarcerated? I have often stated in the past that our freedom dreams can be somebody else’s nightmare. Let our struggle for Black LGBTQ+ Pride be a fight for every single one of us. We need to have a full spectrum of Black liberation where each one of us is welcome to feel and be free as we want to be.