Lavender Book Highlights Safe Spaces for Black Queer Community

“My hope is that people all over the country, no matter if it’s an urban, suburban or rural community, can find places that feel like home.”

—Victoria Smith, deputy director of the National Black Justice Coalition

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In the U.S., where more than half of states have no laws protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination and Black people are fatally shot by the police at three times the rate of white people, the need for Lavender Book is clear. (Alec Perkins / Flickr)

Lavender Book, a new app designed specifically for Black LGBTQ+ people, aims to help users find safe and welcoming spaces all over the country. The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) and LGBTQ nonprofit Out in Tech collaborated to create the new platform, which launched this May. 

The project was inspired by Green Book, the brainchild of a Harlem-based postal carrier Victor Hugo Green that served as a resource for Black Americans showing safe spaces for those traveling during the Jim Crow era. Lavender Book follows the same premise but also focuses on safe spaces for Black queer, trans and gender non-binary communities.

“The Lavender Book builds on [the Green Book] in that it seeks to have … free zones from racial discrimination, but also LGBTQ prejudice and bias,” said Victoria Smith, deputy director of the NBJC. 

In the U.S., where more than half of states have no laws protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination and Black people are fatally shot by the police at three times the rate of white people, the need for Lavender Book is clear. The web app allows users to search for spaces that fit their specific needs, such as places with inclusive restrooms, accessible prices and multilingual employees. 

The app is built on community submissions, and Smith encourages people to add their favorite inclusive spots. Lavender Book already covers many businesses around the country but hopes to continue to expand its coverage. “My hope is that people all over the country, no matter if it’s an urban, suburban or rural community, can find places that feel like home,” said Smith. 

Smith highlighted the importance of having spaces that are safe for people who are both queer and Black, citing her own experience finding a church that was the right fit for her. Many feel like they have to sacrifice one aspect of their identity, but Smith hopes the app will help people find a place that satisfies all of their needs. “It’s a wonderful experience to not have to choose,” Smith said.  

While the app was created for Black queer people, allies are also encouraged to use the resources to find and support affirming and inclusive businesses. “Allies also want to shop places where they know that the people that they love are going to be cared for, too,” said Smith. “And so while yes, it’s created with the directly impacted in mind, we’re also very clear that it’s gonna have a lot of benefit for our friends and families too.” 

When asked about her biggest hope for the future of Lavender Book, Smith simply said, “That one day, it’s not needed.” Until then, Smith hopes the app will ensure that everyone can find spaces that will welcome them. 

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About

Meredith Abdelnour is an editorial fellow for Ms. magazine. She studies English and Environmental Studies at Tulane University and enjoys crossword puzzles.