New Campaign Spotlights Black LGBTQ Life at Historically Black Colleges and Universities
WASHINGTON, DC — May 23, 2016 — Many Voices, a Black church movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) justice, launched a first-of-its-kind video campaign in partnership with Morgan State University (MSU), to increase awareness about LGBTQ life on historically Black College and University (HBCU) campuses, and the ways in which it is shaped by the Black Church tradition. HBCUs have not kept pace with other colleges and universities in developing welcoming environments for LGBT students, though that trend has been recently changing.
Rev. Cedric Harmon, Executive Director of Many Voices, said, “We feel it is important to hear from students who have their fingers on the pulse of college life. Major life decisions are made in college about which career paths to pursue and the ways in which one chooses to express themselves in the world. We wanted to explore how messages from the church impact and influence the campus experience of Black LGBTQ youth, and we hope this video will sensitize our Black community to the longing Black LGBTQ youth feel for a spiritual home. Indeed, God belongs to Black LGBTQ youth too.”
Titled My God Too: Black LGBTQ Students Speak OUT, the video features interviews of 10 MSU LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ ally students, who share their personal stories about how they have been impacted by traditional Black Church teachings regarding gender and sexuality that are pervasive on campus. The students bring forward a hopeful vision of what is possible if the Black community chooses to engage in social justice awareness at the intersection of sexuality, gender, and spirituality.
There are 105 HBCUs across the country. According to a report released by the University of Pennsylvania, only 21 have LGBT student organizations. And, according to diversity expert and former Harvard College Dean, John Fitzgerald Gates, only three HBCUs have full-time administrative staff or a center dedicated to LGBTQ affairs.
Associate Professor of Philosophy at Morgan State University, Anika Simpson, said, “Morgan State University is committed to serving as a national leader in the advancement of educational equity for black LGBTQ students within institutions of higher education. MSU’s program in Women’s and Gender Studies partnered with Many Voices to produce a short film that documents the challenges faced by our LGBTQ students.We aimed to both center our students’ experiences through compelling first person accounts and to disrupt the dominant narrative that historically black institutions (HBIs) are inhospitable to sexual and gender diversity.This project serves as a unique opportunity to foster a national dialogue concerning progressive advocacy on behalf of black LGBTQ students in post-secondary education, who live at the marginalized intersection of race, gender, and sexuality.”
The Many Voices and MSU collaboration was funded in part by the Arcus Foundation, E.Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Foundation. It was produced by filmmaker, Algerson Vincent & VincentVisuals.