Juneteenth Newsletter

published on Jun 19, 2021 Juneteenth Newsletter thumbnail
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In the middle of Pride Month came the welcome news that Juneteenth will be observed from this year forward as a federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.
For those of us in the LGBTQ+ community, Juneteenth will serve a constant reminder that there can be no true pride unless and until our entire nation becomes an equitable place for all its inhabitants: those who lived here for centuries before the arrival of White colonialists and conquerors; those who were transported to this continent against their will and enslaved for centuries; and those who migrated here in search of a better life for themselves and their children.
But this reminder is only meaningful if we heed its call to action. And this milestone only shines a light on how far we have to go.
As recent reports demonstrate, Black LGBTQ+ Americans continue to experience rates of housing insecurity, unemployment, and other forms of discrimination at truly staggering rates, particularly the Black transgender community.
And as Gabrielle Alexa Noel puts it in Black & Queer: What It Means To Celebrate Juneteenth And Pride In The Same Month: "We forfeit safety from homophobic violence in exchange for safety from racialized violence and vice versa. White LGBTQ+ people and cishet Black folks do not have to make the same critical decisions. And this complicates my celebrations of both."
Further Pride/Juneteenth reading:
"Juneteenth is when we celebrate the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States, but as our report shows, Black LGBTQ people are still kept far from that milestone we call liberation."-Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David: Black LGBTQ People and Compounding Discrimination
"Tangible liberation has been the motivation of Black people from the beginning of our existence in the United States. And the revolution that is happening now — including the reignited fight for racial justice over the past year — is propelled by the sweat and tears of Black Queer and Trans people all over the country."-Dominique Morgan, Executive Director of Black and Pink: As a Black Trans Woman, I Want You to Remember Juneteenth Is About Liberation for All Black People
"To honor Juneteenth is to honor Black Americans — our history, our contributions, and our lives. These same lawmakers have the opportunity to truly change the lives of Black Americans in ways that honor the meaning of holidays like Dr. King Day and Juneteenth, but they haven’t done it yet."
-Jameelah Nasheed: Don't Whitewash Juneteenth
As an organization, OUTWORDS aligns itself with the voices of Black LGBTQ+ leaders, and with all who continue to raise their voices to rankle the powers-that-be — to shake and challenge the very foundations of our democracy until it is truly a place of "liberty and justice for all."
After all, without Black LGBTQ+ leadership, there would be no Pride. And in the words of civil rights legend Fannie Lou Hamer, nobody's free until everybody's free. 
With respect,


Mason Funk
Executive Director, OUTWORDS