As the nation reels from days of civil unrest in response to the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd, the LGBTQ community is waging two battles for equality as Pride Month gets underway.
"If one of us is not free, none of us are free," Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, told Cheddar. "People of color, and specifically black people, have been living in a state of oppression for a very long time."
June is widely recognized as Pride Month, springing from the 1969 Stonewall Uprising when police raided a gay bar in New York City, arresting those inside at a time when homosexuality was illegal. Members of the community resisted and called for freedom. The next year, the first Pride march was held.
Still, 51 years later, David said the fight for equal rights is far from over for many communities. "We can’t talk about equality and we cannot talk about liberation and only limit it to certain groups of people," he said. At least 26 transgender people of color were killed in 2019, with 12 transgender people already killed this year, receiving little media attention, according to David.
While the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the U.S. and life-saving blood supplies run short, gay men are still required to wait at least three months after having sexual relations with another man before donating.
"We should have a policy that’s driven by science, not a policy that is driven by bias and fear," David said.
He also highlighted the fight for equality being more strenuous for black people within the LGBTQ community, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. David attributes the disparities within the community to a lack of access to adequate health care as well as economic fallout, such as layoffs due to the pandemic.
Despite a lack of support from the Trump administration, the Human Rights Campaign still works to impact legislative change with policymakers. The organization provides data that highlights disparities within the LGBTQ community in hopes to create "solutions that are inclusive." Taking action on a local level is also a measure that could induce change, according to David.
"I want to encourage every single person to vote, to engage in this process, to volunteer because we have to change the system."