Media coverage often portrays rural America as singularly white, conservative and working-class. Yet at least 10 million people of color, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people of color, call rural America home. Today, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) released a new report, Where We Call Home: LGBT People of Color in Rural America, which examines the unique challenges of LGBT people of color in rural America and highlights distinct experiences across different communities of color. As the second publication in the Where We Call Home series, this report details how the structural challenges of rural life amplify acceptance of or discrimination against LGBT people of color. Where We Call Home: LGBT People of Color in Rural America is released in partnership with the Equality Federation, the National Black Justice Coalition, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
“Rural communities have always been home to people of color and LGBT people of color, but their lives and needs are often unexamined or overlooked,” said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project (MAP). “LGBT people of color are more likely to live in poverty, more vulnerable to discrimination and less able to respond to its harmful effects. Comprehensive nondiscrimination laws are vital to improving the lives of LGBT people of color in rural America—as is blocking and rescinding religious exemption laws that allow employers and taxpayer-funded service providers to discriminate.”
This report offers extensive new findings on LGBT people of color in rural communities, where discrimination based on race and immigration status is compounded by discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
As discussed in the report findings:
Click here to view this as an infographic.
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people of color are central to the fabric of rural life in America,” said David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC). “With little to no attention paid toward the challenges and joys of what it means to be a LGBTQ/SGL person of color living in places like the South or the rural Midwest, this report reveals the heightened risk of discrimination for those who are both LGBTQ/SGL and a person of color. This is especially salient for Black people who continue to be disproportionately impacted by the intersections of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and location in America. NBJC is committed to ensuring the livelihood of LGBTQ/SGL people of color in rural communities, in order to close the gaps between the movements for racial justice and LGBTQ/SGL equality.”
Where We Call Home: LGBT People of Color in Rural America concludes with recommendations for community organizations, educators, healthcare providers and policymakers to address the specific needs of LGBT people of color in rural communities. Because LGBT people of color may experience discrimination based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and their race or ethnicity, passing nondiscrimination protections at the federal, state, and local level is vital to ensure full participation in all aspects of life. States and the federal government should also rescind and block harmful religious exemption laws that may allow service providers and employers to legally discriminate against LGBT people. Additionally, addressing the broad structural challenges facing rural communities while also addressing the specific needs of LGBT people of color in rural areas (e.g., expanding data collection on LGBT people of color, repealing HIV criminalization laws, and more) will help to improve the quality of life LGBT people of color in rural America.