Trolls Attack Zoom Seminar for LGBTQ Black Community

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday September 8, 2020

Beatrice Simpson, director of the Newark LGBTQ Community Center
Beatrice Simpson, director of the Newark LGBTQ Community Center   (Source:YouTube)

Trolls aimed hateful memes and images at participants of an August Zoom seminar for LGBTQ Blacks organized by the Newark Public Library and the Newark LGBTQ Community Center, posting a meme that constituted an anti-gay slur and an image of the Confederate flag. But organizer Beatrice Simpkins, the director of the community center, was far from cowed in the face of hate, reports news source NJ.com.

Simpkins took note of how trans women of color have borne the brunt of skyrocketing anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, saying, "The climate in this country, unfortunately, is some people have targets on their backs and LGBTQ people, especially Black trans women, are a part of that group."

Added Simpkins: "They're easy for other people who have hate in their hearts to victimize."

Simpkins took part last month in a vitrtual conversation about Ashley Moore, a trans woman of color who was apparently murdered in Newark last April. The text accompanying the YouTube video of the conversation said that Moore was "found dead on the streets" and "had strangle marks on her neck, but there was no police investigation."

Simpkins, who is an out lesbian, explained to NJ.com how many LGBTQ people of color "deal with racism on top of homophobia and transphobia from within their own communities," the site reported.

Simpkins gave some details of her own background and the challenges she had faced, saying, "I was Black. I was female. I was a single mother and I was a lesbian. And so, all of that were things I had to navigate."

Although the current political climate is charged with racism and homophobia, Simpkins pointed to LGBTQ youth as an example of courage - and as a source of hope for the future.

"Young people now will identify as being queer, trans, lesbian, gay, at a very young age," she noted.

"You didn't see that a lot 20, 30 years ago, especially in the Black community, especially in communities of color, because we have cultural stigma... we're homophobic."

Newark, the story noted, is a "predominantly Black city," which makes Simpkins' work all the more crucial. She pointed out that although the community center provides a safe space, some of the young people who find refuge there - and space to be themselves - do not enjoy those same freedoms in their own homes.

NJ.com recalled that "In 2019, 59% of Black LGBTQ youth said their families make them feel bad about their LGBTQ identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign," which published a report on the subject.

"The trend takes a toll on their mental health, the study said."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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