For Black people, it can be harder to find destinations and businesses that feel comfortable to visit, and for Black LGBTQ+ people, even more so. That’s why the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) and Out in Tech have set out to create an online platform called the Lavender Book.
Black people have been looking for safe ways to travel for decades. After segregation became legal in the US, travel for many Black Americans became even more dangerous post-slavery. With white diners and bathrooms only and even sundown towns, the need for a guide to know what was and wasn’t a safe place to travel became critical for Black people. Enter the Negro-Motorist Green Book started by Victor Hugo Green in 1936, which documented friendly towns and businesses to stop into.
The Lavender Book is a modern-day version of this, positioned as a community-driven online platform that takes an intersectional approach by documenting safe spaces for Black and African diasporic LGBTQ+/SGL (same-gender-loving) people to visit.
“Finding safe, supportive, responsive environments can be a tall order for Black and African diasporic LGBTQ+/SGL people. We created Lavender Book to serve our BIPOC LGBTQ+ community in a time where anti-discrimination efforts and safety cannot be taken for granted,” said David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, in a statement.
Users on Lavender Book app are able to search for a safe and friendly space and then use over 33 different filters that could include everything from “wheelchair ramp on-site” to “trans-owned” to “sober friendly.” The crowdsourced search engine feature is fueled by the community who give feedback about their experiences.
In 2020, the Human Rights Campaign released a State Equality Index that offers a nationwide report that showed the disparities LGBTQ+ individuals face state-by-state. It’s proven that the US has a long way to go in terms of equality.