As we come to the end of Black History Month, some folks are probably tired hearing the refrain that “Black History is American History.” Of course, it is. This country was built on the backs of Black people. America wouldn’t be America without Black history.
But it’s also true that the LGBTQ+ community wouldn’t be where we are today without Black history. In fact, Black history is LGBTQ+ history. Our intersecting identities and struggles are impossible to dissect—quite literally for many people. The LGBTQ+ community is not inherently white, and Black people are not inherently straight. Though the LGBTQ+ Equality Movement has often been whitewashed in ways that marginalize the experiences of Black queer people, those experiences are no less valid. In fact, Black people have repeatedly been central and integral to the advancement of LGBTQ+ rights. Marsha P. Johnson, one of the storied leaders of the 1969 Stonewall uprising, was a Black drag queen.
And it goes both ways. LGBTQ+ people have always been in the trenches of the Black Civil Rights Movement, if not always in the headlines. From Bayard Rustin and Audre Lorde, to James Baldwin and Lori Lightfoot, Black history and LGBTQ+ history have repeatedly been one and the same.
We cannot build a whole future if we only tell half our history.
We at the Leonard Litz Foundation are proud to center Racial Justice in our mission to help LGBTQ+ people fulfill their potential, especially since LGBTQ+ people of color often face added discrimination and inequality even within our community because of their race.
It doesn’t feel quite right to say Happy Black History Month—it hasn’t always been a happy history. But we invite all LGBTQ+ people to join in celebrating our shared history, and to continue to strive together for a better tomorrow for all.