By: Christine Nicco/TRT Reporter
October 4, 2011
Many know Corey because of his talents and how he has moved forward the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition, HBGC. As the organization’s Executive Director & Co-Founder, he wears many hats. The 26-year-old leader and co-founder of the HBGC is someone who deeply cares about others, whose vision of the world is one to enhance it, even if a small grain of sand at a time. He is attentive, compassionate, a selfless giver at heart, and a sound leader. Quincey Roberts, his soul mate describes Corey as an “ambitious LGBT activist, who has committed his life to serving LGBT people of color.”
“He started his work in homeless prevention in the DC area, and then moved on to Boston to work with urban high school youth in college prep,” Roberts added. “Corey is a very humble and giving person who loves his family.”
He works to inspire and inspires with his actions. His qualities are lauded all over his work at the HBGC nowadays in Boston, Mass.
TRT sat down with Yarbrough to talk about his views on the same issues that affect our community.
TRT: What needs to be done to increase awareness of the importance of funding for HIV/AIDS?
Corey Yarbrough: We need a multi-facetted approach for raising awareness to the importance of funding for HIV/AIDS. I would recommend, that such an approach include the following things: putting faces to the epidemic by empowering individuals living with or impacted by HIV/AIDS to tell their stories, including how HIV/AIDS services (or lack thereof) have impacted them, being more proactive in tackling transphobia and homophobia, particularly in communities of color, admitting that the lack of HIV/AIDS funding is tired to racist ideology and other oppressive tactics, and educating people on the influence they have in advocating for more HIV/AIDS funding and communicating clearly on how to make a difference.
TRT: Which people in the LGBT or allied community have been most influential in your life?
CY: My partner and fellow co-founder of HBGC, Quincey J. Roberts. He is truly my partner in all aspects of the word and challenges me to believe in myself and keep moving forward no matter what. Bayard Rustin for his impact on the civil rights movement as an gay-identified Black male. Local role models that inspire me and provide ongoing support: Rev. Irene Monroe, Gary Daffin, Gunner Scott, and David Wilson, among many others.
TRT: How can the average member of the LGBT community and ally make a difference in our struggle?
CY: The average member of the LGBT or Ally community can make a difference by vocalizing their experiences and using their story to unite others and move a community towards action. Regardless if the action is viewed as big or small, you can make a difference and create the foundation for someone else to do the same.
TRT: What is the best advice you have ever been given to do the proactive things you do today for our community?
CY: Be yourself and don’t set out to make everyone happy. Trust your experiences, be willing to listen to the experiences of others, and let that guide you.
TRT: What have you done for the LGBT community individually or collectively that you are proudest of?
CY: Co-founding HBGC with the support of the community and working towards our mission of inspiring and empowering Hispanic/Latino and Black LGBTQ individuals to improve their livelihood through activism, education, outreach and counseling. I especially feel a sense of pride when people refer to the organization as their family.
TRT: What motivates your work within this community?
CY: Many things. I pull motivation from reflecting on my own journey, seeing and experiencing the many injustices that still plague our society, and hearing stories from people still struggling to find acceptance within themselves, their families, and their faith community.
TRT: What can be done about teen suicides that happen as a result of bullying or anti-gay sentiment?
CY: I wish there was a simple answer to that question. In the long term, it requires a major cultural shift from heterosexism, which includes how we teach youth to deal with difference, conflict, and fear. In the short term, we can start by having more teachers and parents undergo sensitivity trainings, continuing sharing the destructive implications of homophobia/transphobia, and empower LGBTQ students to share their stories in hopes of influencing a new generation towards tolerance.
TRT: What are the top three issues that affect our community the most? What can you do to make a difference?
CY: HIV/AIDS, Trans Inclusion & Equality, and combating homophobia/transphobia in communities of color. I plan to continue to working with HBGC and other organizations to raise aware to and tackle these serious issues.
TRT: Do you consider yourself a hero for the LGBT community?
CY: Yes. I would consider a hero anyone strong enough to live their own truth and support others in living theirs. We should all strive to be a “hero.”
TRT: Will full LGBT equality be achieved in this country during the next 10 years? 20 years?
CY: Similar to how we have not yet achieved full racial equality, I am uncertain about the ability of our country to achieve full equality in the next 10 or 20 years given where we are right now. That is a difficult question to answer, because I don’t feel the LGBTQ community is even on the same page about what “full LGBTQ equality” means or have a clear approach for getting there. Not achieving full equality doesn’t mean we can’t continue taking significant steps towards making our country safer and more welcoming of those in the LGBTQ community.
TRT: Do you think that there are special needs in the Hispanic LGBT community that do not exist in the mainstream LGBT community?
CY: Yes, I think there are specific needs in the Hispanic/Latino LGBTQ community that we all can play a role in bringing attention to and addressing. These things include: immigration reform, language, lack of Hispanic/Latino LGBTQ visibility, religion/spirituality (especially as it relates to Hispanic/Latino families embracing LGBTQ individuals), and division within the respective sub-identities that make up the Hispanic/Latino community.
In addition to serving as Executive Director of the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition and working with the organization to implement programming in the areas of coming out support, HIV/AIDS prevention and testing, spiritual growth, community service, and community building, Yarbrough also serves on the Executive Board for the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Youth Commission and on the Leadership Advisory Council for the National Black Justice Coalition. He recently worked with UNID@S, the national Latino/a LGBT human rights organization, at ASAMBLEA 2011, UNID@S first National Leadership Convening.
Filed Under: TRT Heroes