National Black Gay Coming Out Initiative
The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the nation’s Black gay civil right group and the International Federation of Black Gay Prides (IFBGP) have announced Black Out 2006, a year-long effort to empower at least 2,006 Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), and same-gender loving people (SGL) in every state to “come out.”
“Whether you are trying to address homophobia in the Black church or ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic, it all must start with being open and honest about our lives and our love,” said NBJC Board President Keith Boykin. “Recognizing your own sexual identity and working toward self-acceptance are the first steps in “coming out.”
“The decision to come out is always personal and can be one of the most difficult tasks you confront in your life, said IFBGP Board chair Michel Hinson, “but it can also be one of the most rewarding. We want to help people take control of this process and provide support when they are coping with the ramifications so that you can act positively rather than defensively. Coming out is one way of affirming your dignity and the dignity of other LGBT people.”
The national campaign will have two major components:
The Leadership and Legacy Initiative will focus on openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and same-gender loving African Americans in history and leaders of today. Through print and electronic media campaigns NBJC and IFBGP will publicize the stories and accomplishments of Black Americans who have lived and are living openly as LGBT and SGL individuals. This initiative will feature prominent professionals, community activists, religious and spiritual leaders and exemplary members of the community.
The Coming Out for Life Initiative is a national mobilization campaign designed to enroll at least 2,006 Black LGBT and SGL individuals to sign a pledge that they will “come out” to at least one person in their life who does not know about their sexual orientation or their same-sex partner and family. This multi-faceted effort will be designed to encourage personal fulfillment and spark community engagement.
“Coming out is a continuing, sometimes lifelong, process,” said NBJC Board member Mandy Carter, “with this campaign we are saying that we all have some coming out to do for our own sake and for the well-being of our communities.”
In addition to the pledge, which will be available online and distributed at each of the 25 Black Gay Prides scheduled for 2006, NBJC and IFBGP plan to compile a resource list of Black LGBT, SGL and allied support and social organizations as well as develop “coming out” guides for the Black LGBT / SGL community.
“In the communities that host Black Gay Prides, these annual celebrations have served to raise an awareness of the hopes, needs and gifts of Black LGBT people in the communities,” comments Hinson, “now is an ideal time to take this to new heights by mobilizing our people.”
In addition to Black Out 2006, there will be a campaign that will include an online and community-based voter registration and voter education effort.