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Activism for Black Queers Can't End When the Protests Do

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For the last several months I’ve been saying that 2020 is the year nobody wanted but everybody needed. Amid a pandemic that has put us into quarantine with nowhere to go, many of us are being forced to see things we have always ignored, or we are being forced to no longer ignore the things we have always seen.

Systemic racism, the health disparities created by systemic racism, the lesser value placed on Black women (as of print date, Breonna Taylor’s killers have still not been arrested), and the mistreatment of queer Black people in our society. People spoke out and were moved to action. They took to the streets to protest (30 straight days as of press time), they donated money, names were changed, monuments came down, companies committed to being better, and the 24-hour news cycle was dominated by Black Lives Matter.

As the weeks go by, the movement will get less and less attention. The outcry will get quieter and quieter. This is your reminder that even though your social media and news channels may be returning to normal, Black lives still matter…and that must include all Black lives.

During Pride Month, in the middle of an uprising for racial justice, four Black trans women—Merci Mack, Brayla Stone, Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, and Riah Milton—were found murdered. Unfortunately, not enough people, Black or queer, seemed to care about that. It’s a familiar story that many are tired of telling but that many are still not hearing. They don’t want to hear about the toxic masculinity that exists in our culture. They don’t want to hear about the homophobia and transphobia within the Black community. And they don’t want to hear about the racism within the LGBTQIA community.

While many Black people are leading a movement for our lives and the right to exist in our Blackness, it doesn’t always include queer people. At the same time, while many LGBTQIA people are leading a movement for the right to live and love authentically, it doesn’t always include Black people. That’s the challenge of having intersecting identities that at times conflict with each other. Black folks will ignore and bring violence and hostility toward your queerness, while queer white folks will ignore and bring violence and hostility toward your Blackness.

The result is that it forces us to once again create specific spaces and movements that address all our needs. It forces us to have to say All Black Lives Matter because our communities don’t always see all of who we are.

At this point, Pride is over, and the Black Lives Matter movement is getting less attention. Again, this is your reminder that Black people of all identities are still being marginalized and killed. Racism is still here. Homophobia is still here. Transphobia is still here. And that unholy trinity is descending on my communities. We need all of our allies to continue to show up. We need you to see and acknowledge the intersections that we are existing in.

This is the time where the real work begins. Black lives matter—every single one of them. Then, now, and forever. Will you still be here when the attention is not? Will you still be here when it’s no longer trendy? Will you still be here to fight for the rights of Black people of all identities? Because we are just getting started.

Ashley Innes is a writer and HIV advocate. Follow her on Twitter @Ash_Innes

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