Dear LGBTQ+ Black Youth,
I am writing this letter to inspire and instill the confidence and boldness in you that I wish I had when I was younger. I know what it feels like to feel “different,” unwelcome, lonely, and to be condemned to hell. Your sexuality and gender identity are not “just a phase” — they are an innate part of who you are; who you were created you to be.
As you return back to school in person and walk down those crowded hallways among your peers, remember these words that no matter what the world tells you…
You are loved.
You are worthy.
You are valued.
You are beautiful.
You are enough.
You are not alone and deserve to be heard.
Your voice matters, let no one tell you any different.
It is OK to not be OK.
It is OK to talk to about your thoughts and feelings with a trusted adult.
Dare to be bold.
Dare to be different.
Dare to dream big.
Dare to follow your dreams and aspirations wherever they may take you.
The world needs you.
Don’t forget where you came from — Black history continues to be overlooked and not explicitly discussed. Meanwhile, Black LGBTQ+ history is rarely discussed within the LGBTQ+ community and often siloed within the black community due to persistent prevalence of homophobia, transphobia, and toxic masculinity perpetuated by hip-hop culture and Christianity.
Many people have paved the way for you to fearlessly live your truth such as Bayard Rustin, the civil rights activist who helped organized the 1963 March on Washington and was a close adviser to Martin Luther King Jr.
James Baldwin, the novelist, playwright, and activist whose essays and novels depicted race and sexuality, including Giovanni’s Room.
Audre Lorde, poet, feminist, and activist.
Alice Walker, social activist and novelist best known as author of The Color Purple.
Angela Davis, political activist and scholar.
Marsha P. Johnson, transgender female, drag queen, and activist whose acts of protest catapulted the gay rights movement.
Alvin Ailey, choreographer and founder of one the world’s most prominent dance companies,
Lorraine Hansberry, the first Black female author to have a play performed on Broadway, most notable for writing A Raisin in the Sun and To Be Young, Gifted and Black.
Zora Neale Hurston, novelist best known for Their Eyes Were Watching God and anthropologist whose research was focused on African-American and Caribbean folklore.
Langston Hughes, poet and novelist and leader of the Harlem Renaissance.
George Washington Carver, inventor and one of the most prominent Black scientists in the early 20th century.
You have several role models even in today’s times. Be inspired by the courage of Laverne Cox and the cast of Pose (Billy Porter, Mj Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Angelica Ross, Dyllon Burnside, Ryan Jamaal Swain, Hallie Sahar) to put Black queer lives on television for the whole world to see.
Be Black, queer and unapologetic like Lil Nas X.
Be vulnerable like Frank Ocean, the singer-songwriter who publicly came out via social media in 2014, which elicited praise and support from many Black celebrities.
Other living proof that you can Black, LGBTQ+, and successful: Queen Latifah (first female hip-hop artist to be nominated for an Oscar), Robin Roberts (current news anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America), Jason Collins (first active male athlete to come out as gay among the four major professional sports leagues in the U.S. and Canada), and Michael Sam (first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL).
Despite the progress in LGBTQ+ rights, LGBTQ+ people of color are still faced with many obstacles such as living among racism within the LGBTQ+ community, colorism within the Black community, violence against transgender women of color, stigma within the Black community around mental health, stigma/bias toward those living with HIV, and navigating health care while dealing with racism within the medical community and poor access to doctors, pharmacies, and nutritious foods.
It gets better.
You have people, like myself, cheering you on and offering guidance and emotional support as you navigate the unique experience of being Black and LGBTQ+.
You are deserving of love.
You do not have to conform to societal norms of gender and sexuality.
You are perfect just the way you are.
Every inch, every curve of you is flawless.
You are one of a kind, and don’t take that for granted.
You are uniquely you.
Be fearless, walk boldly, and live in your truth.
Dr. Terrance Weeden
Terrance Weeden is a pediatrician and an Adolescent Medicine fellow at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.