OVERVIEW: Talking about Gay and Transgender issues in the African American Community

“Rights for gays and lesbians are not ‘special rights’ in any way. It isn’t ‘special’ to be free from discrimination—that’s an ordinary, universal entitlement of citizenship.”
– Julian Bond

This guide is designed to help state legislators and community members successfully speak about equality, fairness and LGBT issues in public forums, small group settings or with 
individual constituents. A particular focus is placed on effectively communicating with the African American community, but this messaging should be relevant and beneficial for all audiences.

LGBT issues do not have to be the focus of every speech given, but the themes of fairness and equality can be woven into larger discussions about other important issues facing our communities.

Delivering a smart message that incorporates issues of importance to the gay and transgender community while avoiding divisive language is essential to connecting with your audiences. This toolkit provides ideas for framing LGBT issues and language that you might find helpful when discussing them with the community.

  • Effective discussions about social issues frame those issues in authentic, emotionally compelling ways that correspond to people’s values. Focus on a few meaningful injustices and illustrate these injustices by sharing personal stories.
  • Some Americans aren’t sure whether to support equality for gay and transgender people because they mistakenly believe that gay people are different from everyone else. Remind people that despite stereotypes, gay people live ordinary lives – they are co-workers, neighbors, family members, and friends.
  • Help individuals see injustices through their own eyes. Ask people to consider what it would feel like to be fired from their job or denied housing – then help them realize that’s what gay and transgender people face every day. People want to do the right thing and be on the ethical side of an issue, and helping people put themselves in someone else’s shoes can be a powerful tool for recognizing injustices.