Recommended Approaches

Recommended Approaches

The message guide recommends three approaches for conversations with African American audiences:

  • Emphasize common ground;
  • Highlight examples of concrete harms; and
  • Connect through storytelling.

Emphasize common ground: Make it clear that issues of inequality are about people, and keep conversations focused on shared values, rather than differences. Gay and transgender people simply want the same things as all Americans – the ability to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, provide for their families, be safe in their communities, and take care of the ones they love. When we highlight the values, hopes, and dreams that we share, we work to break down the “us-versus-them” dichotomy.


Highlight examples of concrete harms: Many people simply are not aware of the injustices that LGBT people face. That is why it is important to help people identify the specific challenges LGBT individuals encounter daily. While it is important to highlight how LGBT people are negatively impacted by unfair laws, stay away from speaking about abstract “rights” and focus on real experiences.

Connect through storytelling: It is also important to build emotional connections through real-life stories of how gay and transgender people are hurt by discrimination. Using real-life examples of discrimination helps people to empathize with the discrimination and ostracism that many gay and transgender Americans face. We all face the same challenges each day—financial stability, taking care of our loved ones, finding a place to live, and keeping our children safe. But for many gay and transgender African Americans, both legal obstacles and discrimination further complicate each of these struggles.