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Editor’s Note: July 2020

LGBTQ leaders are spearheading Houston's Black Lives Matter movement.

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Over 60,000 gathered in downtown Houston for a passionate march and rally honoring George Floyd’s life (photo by Dalton DeHart)

The horrific murder of George Floyd on May 25 has sparked a passionate civil-rights movement throughout the nation and around the world. People of every race and background are joining with Black Americans in their ongoing work to end police brutality and systemic racism in America.

Black Lives Matter (BLM), an organization and campaign to empower and uplift Black voices, was founded in 2013 by three Black women after the heartbreaking acquittal of the Florida man who murdered 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Since then, activists around the country have established local BLM chapters and other racial-justice groups.

Our July OutSmart cover story highlights the local LGBTQ leaders spearheading Houston’s BLM movement. Writers Lillian Hoang and Terrance Turner chat with Ashton P. Woods, Kandice Webber, and Brandon Mack, the organizers of Black Lives Matter: Houston (BLMHOU), who discuss their work and encourage others to get involved.

Our regular columnist Daryl Shorter explains what those in the LGBTQ community can do to support the fight for racial justice. One action Shorter suggests is to acknowledge that racism and other forms of bigotry exist within the LGBTQ community. Having these conversations is hard, but it is necessary. For that, we commend Monica Roberts, who, in her Unapologetically Trans column, opens up about the isolation she has experienced due to the racism and transphobia in Houston’s Montrose gayborhood.

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair,” said Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to serve in the United States Congress. This sentiment rings true with many Black and Brown LGBTQ activists, including T.R.U.T.H. Project founder Kevin Anderson. Writer Martin Giron interviews Anderson about his organization, which fills a gap for queer people of color in need of social and mental-health support. On a similar note, writer Zach McKenzie introduces you to Sis, a Houston actress and advocate who has launched the Next Generation Project to empower the Black trans community.

Other artists are also using their gifts to promote social justice. Writer Bill Arning explores the life of artist Violette Bule, whose work illuminates the plight of this country’s “essential workers.” In another July story, writer Gregg Shapiro talks to historian Eric Cervini about his new book, which brings pre-Stonewall civil-rights history to life.

Finally, we encourage you to continue doing your part to keep Houston strong as we combat the dual crises of racial injustice and the COVID-19 pandemic. Keep making your voices heard—while also wearing your masks, washing your hands, social distancing, and staying safe! 

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Lourdes Zavaleta

Lourdes Zavaleta is the managing editor of OutSmart magazine.

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