Redefining What It Means to be a Gay Black Man

Coming Out as a Black Transgender Woman

Black Gay Christians Speak Out

Holler If You Hear Me: Black and Gay in the Church
Gay Pride: Are Black Gay Men Proud?


Coming Out as LGBTQ and Black

For many black individuals, coming out involves additional cultural factors that make the process more challenging but no less rewarding. It includes having to deal with homophobic churches, strong family foundations that emphasize heterosexuality, homophobia in the black community, and racism in the broader LGBTQ community. Thanks to brave LGBTQ black activists and their allies there is more support and acceptance than ever before, but there still exist many prejudices and roadblocks for LGBTQ blacks.

Religion - The church has traditionally played a central role in guiding the day-to-day lives and beliefs of many black Americans. Some churches and individual parishioners have been unwelcoming to people with a different sexual orientation or gender identity. The stance of the many in the black community on homosexuality, either you don’t talk about it or you condemn it, has been historically dictated by the church. Over the past few decades, new churches have been established specifically to welcome and affirm LGBTQ people of color. Some long-established black churches also have made progress toward being more welcoming.

Family - The black family unit often functions as a haven and stronghold of support in a society where racism is still prevalent. Often, there is no place in this fortress of strength for a “weakness,” as homosexuality is often viewed. LGBTQ children are sometimes viewed as being detrimental and damaging to the black family and give a negative impression for the whole black community.


Society and Media - Within the LGBTQ community, many of the same prejudices that we see in the rest of society based on race, class, and ethnicity still exist, which create unique challenges black LGBTQ American trying to fit into the LGBTQ community. Many LGBTQ communities and organizations have been viewed as historically white and can be uncomfortable or unwelcoming for some black Americans. Black LGBTQ Americans have been virtually invisible in history and when they are depicted their sexual orientation is rarely mentioned. The media and entertainment world rarely show LGBTQ people as anything but white.

[Source: Coming Out for African Americans, printed by the Human Rights Campaign]

The Truth About Homophobia in the Black Community

LGBTQ African American Stories

Stunning Photos: Queer Africans

How Many African Americans are LGBTQ?

LGBTQ People of Color

Where Would MLK Have Stood on Marriage Equality?

People of Color: Pioneers in Marriage Equality


Notes on LGBTQ African Americans

LGBTQ Developmental Tasks for African-American Students

"Those who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women, those of us who are poor, who are lesbian, who are Black, who are older – know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those others to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths."
-Audre Lorde, 1984, Sister Outsider


"I hate being invisible. Being both Black and gay, I haven’t developed the courage to fight on two battlefields. So I’ve chosen one by default; the obvious one, the easy one, the Black one… As a gay person, I’ve feared losing the love of family, and facing the wrath of community. I’ve searched through an obscure history. Allies are gay friends also trying to remain invisible and straight friends sworn to keep my secret… While I openly share the beauty of my Black experience, insight gained from being gay is shared only when it’s safe. Black publications proudly announce their arrival, while gay publications arrive hidden in plain manila envelopes…When I’m hurt as a Black person I have an instant support network. When I’m hurt as a gay person, I’m left to lick my wounds until I find a safe place… I fear taking on another label and providing people with yet another reason to view me as a target. It’s difficult enough educating people to see Black people as multi-dimensional and not flat stereotypes. Why take on the added burden? I suffer as a result of this decision… Just as Black people need distance from the distorted image reflected by Whites, so too do we as gays need an environment in which to affirm ourselves…When people think, “gay” they see, “White.” When they think “Black” they fail to see “gay” …Our success in being invisible robs us of knowing ourselves and each other. It further robs us of being known on our own terms...Yet, the risk of being visible is one that too few of us is willing to take. Someday I’ll marshal the strength to fight on two battlefields. Until then I’ll choose the obvious one, continue to be invisible and hate it."
-Chuck, Blackstripe

These two excepts highlight the challenges gay African Americans must face. They have the task of dealing with the intersection of multiple identities (intertwined states of “otherness”): Sexual orientation, race, and gender (women). This can be a stressful and lonely journey. The challenge is in learning how to negotiate and manage these simultaneous states of social realities.

[Source: Dr. Angela D. Coker, University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Education]

HRC: Religion and Coming Out Issues for African Americans

Black Gay Christians Speak Out
Gay Pride: Are Black Gay Men Proud?

The Truth About Homophobia in the Black Community

LGBTQ African American Stories

How Many African Americans are LGBTQ?

LGBTQ People of Color



LGBTQ Black College Students

Student Profile

African-American students in general are developing ethnic and racial identity. LGBQ African-American students have an understanding that gayness is not a White phenomenon.

African-American college students in general interact with the dominant culture. LGBTQ African-American college students are dealing with homophobia from general society.  What are the benefits or risks to “coming out?”.

African-American college students in general are developing cultural aesthetics and awareness. LGBTQ African-American college students are developing cultural aesthetics and awareness.


African-American college students in general are developing identity. LGBTQ African-American college students are asking themselves, "Who am I as a racialized homosexual being?" For men: trying to define Black manhood; For women: learning how to sort through issues of physical attractiveness. Must deal with racism, sexism, and homophobia. Have evolved outside of society’s definition of femininity

African-American college students in general are developing Interdependence. LGBTQ African-American college students ask themselves, "What will my family, friends, and community think? Will they disown me?" Social isolation and/or secrecy. Fear of being found out. Maintaining ties to family and community.

African-American college students in general are fulfilling affiliation needs. For LGBTQ African-American college students, much of one’s identity is constructed on the basis of community connection. Managing the coming out process and maintaining strong connection to group.

African-American college students in general are surviving intellectually. LGBTQ African-American college students are learning how to deal with stress of academia while trying to sort out one’s identity. What will my professor think? Will often travel to other cities for social outlets (this is time that could be used to study instead of spending several hours on the road to another city)


African-American college students in general are developing spiritually. LGBTQ African-American college students are maintaining connections with religious organizations. Fear of being ousted from their church. Wrestling with relationship with higher power.

African-American college students in general are developing social responsibility. LGBTQ African-American college students are dealing with the “coming out” process and recognizing the need to be role models for other African American LGBTQ persons, thereby reducing the invisibility.

Questions for Educators

In what ways can we make our classrooms/learning communities more inclusive and user-friendly for LGBTQ students? How often do we engage in self-reflection and an examination of our own values and biases with respect to race, gender, and homosexuality? How might our personal issues, comments, subtle message impede the educational process for students who are members of this group?

[Source: Angela D. Coker, PhD, LPC, NCC, University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Education. McEwen, M.K., Roper, L.D., Bryant, D.R., & Langa, M.J. (1990). Incorporating the development of African-American students into psychosocial theories of student development. Journal of College Student Development]



Keith Boykin


Keith Boykin is a New York Times best-selling author, assistant adjunct professor of political science at Columbia University, CNN political commentator, journalist, actor and public speaker.

Each of Keith’s four books has been nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, including his most recent book, For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Still Not Enough, which won the American Library Association Stonewall Award for Nonfiction in 2013.

Educated at Dartmouth and Harvard, Keith attended law school with President Barack Obama and served in the White House as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton, where he was once the highest ranking openly gay person in the Clinton White House. He also helped organize and participated in the nation’s first ever meeting between a sitting president and leaders of the LGBTQ community.


Keith has been actively involved in progressive causes since he worked on his first congressional campaign while still a student in high school. He is a veteran of six political campaigns, including two presidential campaigns, and he was named one of the top instructors when he taught political science at American University in Washington.

He starred on the 2004 Showtime television series American Candidate, and then became a co-host of the BET J TV series My Two Cents, where he interviewed celebrities, politicians, and public figures. A former CNBC contributor, MSNBC commentator and BET columnist, Keith is also the former editor of the online news site, The Daily Voice. He has appeared on numerous national media programs, including Anderson Cooper 360, The O’Reilly Factor, The Tyra Banks Show and The Tom Joyner Morning Show.

A founder and first board president of the National Black Justice Coalition, Keith has spoken to audiences, large and small, all across the world. He delivered a landmark speech to 200,000 people at the Millennium March on Washington and he gave a stirring speech about the AIDS epidemic in front of 40,000 people in Chicago’s Soldier Field in July 2006.

Keith was an associate producer of the 2007 feature film Dirty Laundry and appeared in the 2014 BET drama series, Being Mary Jane.

His third book, Beyond the Down Low: Sex, Lies and Denial in Black America, spent four weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Keith won the Lambda Literary Award for his second book, Respecting The Soul, and his first book, One More River to Cross, is taught in colleges and universities throughout the country.

Keith has lived in 12 cities, visited 48 of the 50 US states, and traveled across four continents. In 1997 President Clinton appointed him, along with Coretta Scott King and Rev. Jesse Jackson, to the US presidential trade delegation to Zimbabwe.

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Keith currently lives in New York.

Keith Boykin's Website

National Black Justice Coalition

Wikipedia: Keith Boykin

Keith Boykin on Facebook


Black, Gay and Successful in Hollywood

Paris K.C. Barclay is a gay black man working in Hollywood as a television director and producer. Born in 1956 in Chicago, Illinois, Barclay has directed over 100 episodes of television to date, for series including NYPD Blue, ER, The West Wing, CSI, Lost, The Shield, House MD, Law & Order, Monk, Numb3rs, City of Angels, Cold Case, and more recently The Mentalist, Weeds, Sons of Anarchy, NCIS: Los Angeles, The Good Wife, In Treatment, and Glee.


Paris has won two Emmy Awards as well as a Directors Guild of America award for directing episodes of NYPD Blue, and has garnered 10 DGA nominations. He is the first director in the history of the Guild to be nominated for a comedy series and drama series in the same year, two years in a row (2008, 2009). Barclay has also received an NAACP Image award for Best Drama Series as co-creator, writer, and director of the groundbreaking medical drama City of Angels, and another Image Award for directing Cold Case.

Currently, Barclay is executive producer and principal director of HBO's In Treatment, now in its third season. Openly gay since late in his college days, he was a regular contributor to The Advocate magazine for several years. Barclay is one of Hollywood's very few openly gay black decision-makers. He is used to hearing the same line, repeatedly, when other industry executives see scripts with queer black characters.

Gay Black Theologian

Horace L. Griffin is an African-American Theologian who is also gay.  He teaches pastoral theology and is Director of Field Education at the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church. An ordained priest in the Episcopal Church, USA, Griffin also serves as an associate at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Glen Rock, NJ.


In 1990, Griffin began his professional career as a college professor at the historical black Fisk University while completing his Ph.D. at Vanderbilt. At Fisk, he chaired the Department of Religious and Philosophical Studies from 1993-1996, becoming the first openly gay Department chair in the University's 127 year history. In 1992, he received the "Professor of the Year Award" for the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts.



During this period, he also co-chaired the Lesbian and Gay Coalition for Justice, a civil rights organization for gay citizens in Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Griffin has a Bachelor of Arts in Religion degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga; a Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology in Boston, Mass; and a PhD in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University Graduate Department of Religion in Nashville, Tennessee.

As a graduate student concentrating in gender and sexuality issues, he developed a slide presentation addressing black pastoral issues and the AIDS epidemic. Called "Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray," the presentation became a teaching tool for black pastors at conferences and in black faith communities. As a result of his AIDS work, Griffin was invited to serve as a board member (1994-1996) of Nashville Cares, an AIDS agency for the Greater Nashville community.

In 1996, Griffin joined the religious studies faculty at the University of Missouri-Columbia as Assistant Professor of African-American Religions. He taught courses on African-American religions, religion and human sexuality and religion and homosexuality. In 1999, Griffin resigned, in part, because the university president and administrators refused to include sexual orientation in the university's non-discrimination policy. Later that year, he accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., where he taught courses such as Pastoral Care and Congregations, Sexuality and Pastoral Care, and Cross Cultural Pastoral Care. He also directed the Chicago Collegiate Seminarians Program, a Lilly funded grant for college students considering ordained ministry.

Griffin has published numerous articles and essays in peer journals and anthologies, including "Revisioning Christian Ethical Discourse on Homosexuality: A Challenge for the 21st Century" in the Journal of Pastoral Care, and "Toward a True Black Liberation Theology: Affirming Homoeroticism, Black Lesbian and Gay Christians and their Relationships" in Loving the Body: Black Religious Studies and the Erotic. His most recent work, "Black Machoism and Its Discontents" will be published in 2008 in Face to Face: A Discussion of Critical Issues in Pastoral Theology. His first book, Their Own Receive Them Not: African American Lesbians and Gays in Black Churches (Pilgrim Press 2006) was awarded the 2006 Lambda Literary Award in LGBTQ studies in the spring of 2007. This groundbreaking work also received a Stonewall Award nomination. The LGBTQ African American Roundtable convened a panel of scholars and clergy offering a critical examination of the book at its 2007 annual meeting. In its second printing, Their Own Receive Them Not is a useful text currently being studied and discussed in college and seminary classrooms and black faith communities.






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