A new survey of black, white and Latino youth in the US on LGBT activism has shown a sharp divide over the prioritising of different LGBT issues between racial groups.
It found that, when asked to choose one key issue which LGBT organisations should prioritise, black youth were more than twice as likely to say HIV/AIDS as white youth, and less than half as likely to say same-sex marriage.
The report, entitled ‘Moving Beyond Marriage: What Young People of Color Think about the LGBT Agenda’, was commissioned by the Black Youth Project (BYP). It surveyed 1,500 people aged 18 to 30, from all sexual identities.
85.7 percent of those surveyed supported more efforts to tackle HIV/AIDS, which was consistent across all three groups as the most widely supported LGBT policy, and followed by equal employment rights at 83.3 percent.
However, when asked to name one key priority, the results were far more divided, and for white and Latino youth in particular the vote was closely split over several issues.
35 percent of black youth wanted to prioritise the fight against HIV/AIDS, followed by 17 percent who would focus on combating violence against LGBTs. Same-sex marriage came fifth, with just over 10 percent of the vote.
Same-sex marriage was, at 12 percent of the vote, also the fifth priority for Latino youth, who ranked bullying as the most important challenge and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in second place.
This is in sharp contrast to white youth, among whom same-sex marriage was voted the top priority by the most people (21.3 percent). HIV/AIDS placed fifth, but with a vote of 15.6 percent, the gap is significantly narrower than with black youth.
80.2 percent of black youth and 74.9 percent of Latino youth agreed that the same-sex marriage movement “has taken too much focus away from other issues important to LGBT people”, compared with 64 percent of white youth.
Black respondents were also the most likely to disagree with the statement that “all LGBT individuals benefit when mainstream LGBT organizations fight for their basic rights”. 58 percent believed instead that LGBT people of colour faced issues “very different” from those promoted by mainstream gay rights groups.
In an interview discussing the findings, Terrance Laney, of activism branch BYP100, commented: “The difference is that African American youth take a ‘yes-and’ approach to the marriage movement.
“We want marriage, yes, and, we want there to be more funding for people living with HIV so we can prevent and eliminate this epidemic that’s ravaging our community. So we want both: we want marriage and healthcare.”
The survey also found that black youth perceived more discrimination against six different minority groups, including LGBTs, than their white or Latino peers. Overall, 78.5 percent of respondents agreed that gay men and lesbians faced “a lot” or “some” discrimination, and 80.2 percent thought the same about transgender individuals.