Activist DeRay Mckesson spoke at the San Francisco GLAAD Gala on Saturday to discuss the complexities of being black and gay.
Taking the GLAAD stage, a national organization that works to ensure LGBT people are presented fairly in the media, Mckesson said, "I stand here as a proud Black gay man."
Mckesson is most well known for his leadership and voice within the #blacklivesmatter movement, after live tweeting from many protests across the country. In an interview with the NY Times Magazine in August, he said that “some in the movement have objected to having a gay man in a prominent position.”
Regardless of that fact, he is still speaking out. He continued on in his five-minute speech discussing the danger of the “either/or” mentality when it comes to being Black and gay.
“Expressing myself and loving myself is often so much more complex than ‘out’ affords,” said Mckesson. “For so many of us, the world is a place where we’re not supposed to make noise, where we’re asked to hide who we are and be silent about the injustices that we face."
A 2012 report by Gallup revealed that African-Americans make up the largest group of people who identify as LGBT.
Twitter, Mckesson explained, has been a springboard for many others to “come out of the quiet” and share stories about police brutality and racism.The #blacklivesmatter movement was started on Twitter in 2012 as a call to action in the wake of the George Zimmerman acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin. Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, three black activists who also identify as queer, co-founded it.
Mckesson said that it was those collective whispers that began to spread and change the world. He also cited Twitter's role in spreading the news about 21 transgender women who were murdered this year.
He suggested using those same tools to help more people come together and speak out against injustice in the LGBT community. “I often think that the #blacklivesmatter movement has helped people come out of the quiet about racism in America but the fight for equality and equity is long and it’s not just a fight about a race,” Mckesson said. “It’s a fight about systemic, structural issues that affect so many of us around LGBT issues as well. People like me.”
Openly gay "Empire" star, Jussie Smollet, greeted Mckesson with a big hug before his speech and introduced him saying, “He is a black man, he is a gay man, and his voice is changing the world."
Twitter users also showed their support for Mckesson's speech.