We live in a climate of continued racial oppression and pervasive homophobia and stigma, and it is time to embrace the history and journey of all Black people in America.
Being born Black in this country comes with certain challenges. Being born Black and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Questioning (LGBTQ) in this country presents double challenges.
Usually missing from Black history or even LGBT history are highlights of Black LGBT history. Black communities are not more –or less – homophobic than any other community. But for Black LGBT, the consequences of homophobia may be more devastating because the community’s protection is needed when dealing with race and racism.
Highlighting Black LGBT History, “Generations 2015” is a celebration of the Black LGBT history of the African Diaspora. Now in its sixth year, the annual event takes place Friday, Feb. 20, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at San Francisco’s African American Art and Cultural Complex at 762 Fulton St.
There are many challenges that LGBT folks of African descent are working on, from health inequities to social isolation. At the same time, there are many accomplishments to be proud of.
Most of these accomplishments are not taught in mainstream history books or identified as being the product of a Black LGBT person. Even during Black History Month, we learn so little about people in Black history who were LGBT.
More than an event, many people consider this celebration to be an experience. Catered and free to the general public, the program features art, films and entertainment to honor historic LGBT contributions of yesterday and today.
On display will be over 100 autobiographies of Black LGBT movers and shakers, past and present.
The celebration started out small in 2010, when members of Black Brothers Esteem (BBE), an organization of the San Francisco AIDS office, were talking about how they felt sad about the lack of Black LGBT history and desired to host a separate event within Black History Month.
Micah Lubensky, who co-facilitated the group, says the idea resonated with him. Lubensky took charge and coordinated the event for five years, watching as each year it kept getting larger.
This year, Brandon Ivory stepped up as lead coordinator. Ivory has been on the planning committee for the past four years and says the event is one of his favorite collaborating community events.
He says he became interested in Queer Black History while in high school. “As a gay Black man, I had to do my own investigation,” he said. “I saw it as a way to build self esteem. I believe the more our community learns about how many significant achievements are by LGBT people of the African descent, we are reminded that the sky is the limit for what we can do.”
The event highlights the lives of civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, blues singer Bessie Smith and present day heroes like political activist Angela Davis, author Alice Walker and college draft pick Michael Sam, National Football Leagues’ first openly gay player.
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