By: Eli Vivas & Kendra Graves*/Special to TRT—
In 2009, Quincey J. Roberts and Corey Yarbrough decided to be the change they wished to see in LGBT communities of color in Boston by creating the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition (HBGC).
Since its founding, HBGC has worked to inspire and empower Hispanic, Latina/o, and Black LGBT individuals to improve their livelihood through activism, education, outreach, and counseling. Seven years later, HBGC represents what is possible when an underserved community organizes to create resources within our community to meet the needs of our community.
In addition to leading monthly discussion groups where LGBT people of color talk about issues affecting our lives, we also collaborate with local agencies to offer services to survivors of intimate partner abuse; connect LGBT youth to adult mentors; host an online resource center with listings of LGBT People of Color-friendly businesses, organizations and services; help local high schools develop and coordinate gay-straight alliances, and much more.
Though LGBT people of color have come to rely on our resiliency to navigate within families, communities and neighborhoods that often devalue our unique identities, we also recognize the many ways the web of oppressions we encounter in these spaces and society at large continue to make us feel invisible and disenfranchised.
With the presence of HBGC—an LGBT organization led by and for Black and Latina/o people—comes limitless potential to empower new generations to resist and rise above, racism, homophobia, transphobia and the many other social injustices and inequities that rob us of our health and wellness, education and economic opportunities, dignity and self-esteem, and our lives.
HBGC’s influence and impact on our communities over the last seven years exemplifies the importance of investing in organizations serving individuals at the margins of society, including those ostracized because of our race, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Donor contributions give HBGC the ability to run our programs, groups, events, and perhaps most importantly, to ensure that our amazing staff of LGBT people of color can use their knowledge, skills and experience to lead our programs and groups.
While grants provide a great deal of the financial support we need to operate our programs and services, funding to increase staff capacity is often very limited.
Give OUT Day is a unique opportunity to sustain and strengthen the power of organizations like HBGC that serve individuals in need of culturally grounded, ethnically affirming LGBT programs and services. Give OUT Day is an annual national initiative (held this year on Thursday, May 19) that engages thousands of individuals on a single day to donate to hundreds of organizations in support of programs and services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
Donation initiatives like Give OUT Day are extremely important for organizations like HBGC. Similar to the injustices LGBT people of color directly experience on a daily basis, LGBT organizations of color face daunting inequalities when it comes to funding and resources.
Grassroots organizations like HBGC depend on the leadership, time and energy of people in our community to plan, organize, promote, document and evaluate our offerings. Investing in organizations of color ensures that we remain viable, that we have a voice in the larger LGBT community, that we can strengthen and empower our growing staff, and that we remain at the forefront of the fight for full LGBT inclusion and empowerment.
*Kendra Graves and Eli Vivas are both members to HBGC’s Board of Directors and have a long standing relationship with and commitment to HBGC’s programming, services and mission.