Within the Black community, there seems to be a stigma around having a conversation about sexuality and gender identity. As a community, it is frowned upon and this ignorance is justified through religion and the Bible. Marginalized groups such as Black people having that intersectionality of being Black and a part of the LGBTQ+ community is a huge challenge for some.
When Ose Arheghan was in the 8th grade they came out as queer. Middle school is a pretty challenging time for many students. Approximately 20% of students between the ages of 12 and 18 are bullied in some way. Arheghan didn’t know this stat but they knew that as a Black queer non-binary teenager they would be susceptible to such things and that the children like them would be too. Throughout high school, Arheghan made it their goal to be an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, actively working to change their school’s discrimination policy
At just 17-years-old Arheghan was honored as GLSEN’s Student Advocate of the Year in 2017. Creating safe environments for LGBTQ+ and fighting for the rights of the community
GLSEN is a nonprofit organization that’s goal is creating safe learning environments for LGBTQ+ youth, specifically K-12 students. And that’s exactly what Aheghan’s goal was and still is today.
Now attending Ohio State University, Arheghan still advocates for the rights and inclusiveness of minority and marginalized students and groups on the campus. They also work closely with Know Your IX, a nonprofit that teaches students about their rights under the Title IX law.
Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a federal law that states: “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
There are many non-profit organizations and activists that people don’t see advocating for the LGBTIA community, but one person that makes sure their voice is heard is Twiggy Pucci Garcon. Garcon goes by she/they pronouns and is an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Garcon is the Chief Program Director of True Colors United, an organization that strives to find solutions to homelessness among LGBTQ+ youth.
“I’ve been doing advocacy and social justice work, and public health work since high school. Most of that work was centered around public health, for Black and Latinx communities, particularly queer communities,” Garcon said.
Garcon has also gone on to make films about LGBTQ+ homeless and young people who have come together to create a safe space to unapologetically be themselves.
“I feel as much as I fight the urge and desire to be more low key…I show up unapologetically everywhere all the time and try to raise the profile and visibility of those specifically in the ballroom scene along with Black and brown LGBTQ people globally,” said Garcon.
While also being a part of the LGBTQ+ community and a person of color, Garcon has a platform by using their creativity “as a lens by which to open the door for those conversations to happen.”
“I think that change and growth happens with many approaches, and I think the sort of informal, conversational approach that we can have with our friends and family and loved ones, is something that any of us could do. And I think that on the flip side of that, it is still also folks’ responsibility to educate themselves and keep up with the times and what’s going on,” Garcon said.
Conversations about the intersectionality of Black and LGBTQ+ have to continue to be had. Activists and advocates like Garcon and Arheghan leave footprints to continue advocating and teaching about the disparities and struggles of the LGBTQ+ community, starting with the LGBTQ+ youth. Simply acknowledging these things is a start to leading the cause.