The NBJC Blog

"We recognize those we have lost to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and acknowledge the work still required to end the epidemic. Today, given scientific, medical, and social advancements no one has to die as a result of HIV/AIDS.  Ending the epidemic in our lifetime is not a question of resources but a question of will. Will we fight to ensure that those most neglected and ignored receive the health care and legal protections we all need to thrive?

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As the world recognizes Transgender Awareness Week this month and International Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) on November 20, NBJC continues to commit to building a coalition of organizations and individuals working to eradicate the epidemic of violence that haunts the lives of transgender people, especially transgender and gender non-binary people. Specifically during Transgender Day of Remembrance, we honor the lives of our transgender and gender non-binary family members who are no longer with us due to senseless acts of hate violence, and also call upon allies to step up and stand in solidarity.

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My #InvitingIn story started when I was 17 years old when I first came out to my best friend, then my mom. It was an interesting experience for sure! I remember I wrote my mom a letter and left it for her to find. Back then, I think it was a little dramatic how I did it, but it happened the way it was supposed to. I can remember my mom and I not talking that much about it. She has always supported me but I think it was hard for her at first to accept it—-having a queer son.

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This notion of #InvitingIn is a very privileged conversation that many people may never feel they can engage in due to life’s circumstances. With the state of the world and the work of community empowerment that still remains a priority for Black and Brown America, I understand why one can feel this way. However, I am here to tell you that while you may be facing oppression or rejection in life, there is always hope and for me, that has been found in building my community of support.

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October marks the observance of LGBTQ/SGL History Month . During this month we celebrate the lives and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people. Too often LGBTQ/SGL people are erased, our contributions are rendered invisible in public schools, in the media, and in our homes. LGBTQ/SGL History Month, first celebrated in 1994, is designed to move us closer to recognizing that as long as there have been people there have been LGBTQ/SGL people and we are all better when we acknowledge and celebrate this truth. 

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I've never asked permission for how to show up in the world. From as young as I have memories I can recount how this is a fact. I have however always felt and observed how many respond to how I show up in the world. In 2002, I moved to NYC and became a member of the first church community I'd ever encountered that was #OpenAndAffirming

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I struggle with this notion of “coming out” because we really continuously come out--not just to other people, but to ourselves. It's easy to center the beautiful narratives of love, support, and things 'getting better', but I'm taking some time to think about folk who were forced out of the closet, continue to be unsupported, or who don't feel that they can walk in their truth. I want to lift them up today, and let them know that they have the support of those of us in a position of privilege to share our narratives. And, if my own sharing can help just one person, it’s not in vain.

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The National Black Justice Coalition is an important organization because there are some of us who have intersectional identities—that is we face bias, discrimination and sometimes are victims of hate crimes because of our multiple, overlapping socially constructed identities. The work we do is important because too often people assume that all African descendants—all African Americans to be specific—are the same—that we’re heterosexual, able bodied, and Christian, for example, but as long as there have been Black people there have been Black LGBTQ/SGL people and it’s important for us to highlight this fact to ensure that we can meet the needs of members of our community who too often are neglected and ignored.

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It’s important to identify solutions to the problem of racism, intolerance, and discrimination, especially in spaces like this because too many of us -- Black people specifically live with the realities and consequences of these negative experiences every day. The experience of being in Warsaw, Poland the last few days have provided me with a chance to exist without the stress and anxiety that comes with being Black in America. The feeling of having to look over my shoulder, being concerned by the constant watch of local and state law enforcement has been replaced with profound peace. A peace that I imagine white people experience often.  A profound peace that accompanies never having to worry about being the victim of crimes of intolerance, discrimination, and hate. 

 

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June 27, our nation observes National HIV Testing Day (NHTD), which serves as a day of action that unites organizations, health departments, community leaders and families of all backgrounds to raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing and early diagnosis of HIV. The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), is joining NHTD efforts to encourage Black families to get tested regularly for HIV, know their status, and get link to care and treatment services.

 

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