NEW YORK - – A landmark study on the relationship between racial justice organizations and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities finds the lack of resources, funding, and community support are obstacles to engagement. The study, titled, “Better Together: Research Findings on the Relationship between Racial Justice Organizations and LGBT Communities,” was produced by Applied Research Center (ARC) in partnership with the Arcus Foundation.
There are damaging perceptions about LGBT communities and racial justice groups, specifically that LGBT identity and politics are for white people and that communities of color are disproportionately homophobic. "These myths harm LGBT communities of color and continue to be perpetuated by divisive, politically motivated platforms such as the Proposition 8 Campaign,” says Rinku Sen, President and Executive Director of ARC.
"Better Together” is a result of surveys and interviews with more than 80 organizations and 30 key leaders, based on the premise that significant numbers of LGBT people are of color and comprising an important part of the racial justice constituency. The report focuses on current engagement efforts, perceived barriers, potential opportunities, and key recommendations for advancing work in this intersectional area. Said Sen, “When racial justice groups, including those focused on LGBT people, take on the intersection of race and sexuality, they can build enduring political power to make the policy and practice changes that improve communities nationwide.”
Primary recommendations are to increase funding and support for LGBT organizations of color, invest in tools for strategic clarity, support leadership development for LGBT leaders of color, and build media and communications infrastructure. "The significance of philanthropic support for racial justice engagement of LGBT issues cannot be overestimated,” says Roz Lee, senior program officer for Arcus Foundation’s Racial Justice, Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity program. “There is a critical need for general and targeted funding for LGBT organizations of color and partnership-building. Additionally, funders must support media and leadership development in order to increase visibility for the incredible work that is happening every day."
Though generally optimistic about the opportunities for more organizations to engage, “Better Together” also warns that many existing programs focused on LGBT people of color do exist but are not receiving media attention and visibility that would support expansion, much less impact public perception of the issues necessary for policy change. Through its daily news site, ColorLines.com, Applied Research Center has already devoted a considerable amount of coverage to exposing racial injustices related to the LGBT community. “We applaud concerted efforts by news outlets and organizations that extend a platform beyond the established voices to include LGBT leaders of color.” said Sen.
As the study shows, there are compelling reasons and opportunities to address barriers to effective engagement explicitly over the long term. Lee said, "Arcus is proud to support the Applied Research Center's research on racial justice engagement of LGBT issues, and it is our hope that more funders provide targeted funding to support critical research on this intersectional area, partnerships between these overlapping communities, and capacity-building for budding LGBT organizations of color."
The executive summary of the report was published online today, with the full report to be released at ARC’s Facing Race conference in Chicago next week. A press teleconference will be held on Thursday, September 23. To RSVP for the teleconference or to interview ARC president and executive director Rinku Sen, contact Rebekah Spicuglia at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 290-2970.
Founded in 1981, Applied Research Center is America's leading think tank on racial justice. ARC investigates the racial consequences of public policy initiatives and develops new frameworks and solutions to address racial inequality, engaging in media and journalism, strategic research and policy analysis, and leadership development. ARC publishes daily news at ColorLines.com.
The Arcus Foundation is a leading global foundation advancing pressing social justice and conservation issues. Specifically, Arcus works, in part, to advance LGBT equality and to increase respect and equality for LGBT people of color.