Applied Research Center: Better Together
In partnership with the Arcus Foundation, the Applied Research Center (ARC) has undertaken a study o therelationship between racial justice organizations and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGB) constituenciesand issues, with the understanding that communities o color themselves, including their LGB members,have a good deal at stake in strengthening that relationship. Te inquiry included a survey o 81 organizationso color and interviews with 32 leaders o racial justice and LGB organizations.Te study was motivated by three aspects o the national political landscape.First, racial justice groups and LGB constituencies would seem to be naturally connected. Signicant numberso LGB people are o color, thereby comprising an important part o the racial justice constituency. Second,despite these empirical connections, the political and popular linkages are not widely known or acted upon.Such distance reinorces widespread assumptions, noted by activists interviewed or this study, that LGBidentity and politics are or white people and that communities o color, housing ew i any LGB peoplethemselves, are disproportionately homophobic. Tird, LGB people o color are harmed by the perceived splitbetween communities o color and LGB communities. Dozens o young, local organizations serving LGBpeople o color do exist, but they are virtually invisible, poorly supported and oen too busy providing criticalhealth and human services to engage deeply in education and organizing or policy change. Likewise, inspiringrelationships between racial justice groups and LGB constituencies also exist but are so little known that theirmodels see too ew replications.In this study, ARC set out to answer our questions:
How do racial justice groups currently engage LGB constituencies and equity issues?
What are the barriers to strong engagement o racial justice groups in LGB issues?
Where are the opportunities or greater engagement?
What changes can unders and people working in the elds o racial justice and LGB rights pursue?
We answered these questions through two means. First, we surveyed 81 organizations, including 41 sel-identi-ed racial justice groups and 40 LGB groups explicitly ocused on people o color. We ollowed up the survey by interviewing 32 LGB activists who are working to strengthen the connection.
In national, state and local racial justice organizations, important work is already underway that engages LGBpeople and issues. Te best work emerges rom strategic political analysis. Most projects start with internaldiscussion and political education, and develop through issue campaigns to change policies and institutionalpractices. Some o this engagement is quite mature. Furthermore, there is signicant interest among racial justice organizations in integrating LGB issues, but they cannot learn rom others’ experiences because thesestories receive relatively little attention rom the media and other institutions.We ound large numbers o local organizations working directly with LGB people o color whose inuencecould grow with proper investment. Some racial justice organizations made explicit decisions to work on LGBissues (even at the cost o religious unding), and there was a general openness to exploring how LGB people