The Center for Black Equity (CBE) recently released the 2020-21 Black LGBT Community survey, and the results demonstrate the destruction caused by COVID-19. Participants reported experiencing increased social isolation and decreased mental well-being. Beyond the pandemic, Black LGBT people, especially transgender individuals, have struggled to gain the same equality as their white and non-black community members in regards to employment, health, education, and visibility within the LGBT community. Overall, the survey touches on issues such as Black Lives Matter, income, mainstream LGBT representation and a general overview of Black LGBT life within the United States—shedding light on the lives of many individuals tethered together by class and racial identity.
Data was gathered through an online survey composed by CBE, Community Marketing and Insights (CMI), and several Black LGBT Media partners. CBE, formerly known as the International Federation of Black Prides, represents Black Pride organizations in multiple cities across the nation. The survey was not meant to (and cannot) represent the entire Black LGBT community, but is considered to be a sample of what the community experiences. Over 1,800 Black LGBT adults participated in the survey. The majority of participants were younger, cisgender male, and reported living in urban areas (67%).
Despite the limitations of the data, the survey results illuminate the experiences of many Black LGBT individuals. A significant number of participants that are presently employed and stable reported experiencing homelessness at one point in their lives: 31% of all participants and 44% of transgender and nonbinary participants specifically. However, that is where the data ends in regards to homelessness.
Participants tended to be highly educated as well. Cisgender lesbian women and cisgender gay men in all generational categories reported earning a bachelor or master degree. Notably, this educational background did not carry over to transgender and nonbinary individuals.
Nearly half of the participants (49%) reported not feeling safe living their lives “out of the closet” in their own communities. However, 56% of cisgender, lesbian participants reported that they feel accepted within their communities in contrast to 46% of cisgender gay and bisexual male participants who reported not feeling safe or accepted. Only 34% of transgender and nonbinary individuals reported being accepted in their communities. This could be a direct result of the high risk of violence and murder that many Black transgender and nonbinary people face. Forty-three percent of those who live in rural or small cities (9% of all participants) reported not feeling support from their LGBT communities, reiterating the overall response from participants that race is the definitive factor in the lack of support and acceptance from LGBT communities.
Mental health concerns were a common denominator of all participants, no matter their age or identity. Ninety percent of participants agree that depression and mental health are top priorities within the community. HIV/AIDS treatments and prevention follows in priorities (100% of male participants reported this concern), followed by personal health goals and treatment and prevention of COVID-19.
The Black LGBT community seems to have found ways to survive within their own respective communities, though transgender and nonbinary individuals have reported worse outcomes for both mental health and acceptance within their own communities.
When COVID-19 is eventually eradicated, there can be no doubt that the Black queer community will make advances in gaining acceptance in a post-pandemic world. Hopefully, transgender and nonbinary individuals will also not be left behind.
Monika Estrella Negra (she/her) is a freelance journalist, filmmaker and curator of all things radical in media. Her first short titled “Flesh” was included in the ‘Horror Noire’ syllabus. She has directed three additional shorts, ‘They Will Know You By Your Fruit’, ‘Succubus’, and the in production ‘Bitten, A Tragedy’. Monika has written essays for Syfy Fangrrls, Black Girl Nerds, Grimm Magazine, and more. In addition, she is the creator of Audre’s Revenge Film and Black and Brown Punk Show Chicago, a GRRL Haus Cinema Resident Filmmaker (2019) and editor of DecodedPride.com. Learn more about Monika on herAuthory site.