5 Groups Highlighting The Struggles Of LGBTQ+ Americans

Historically, being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender has come with plenty of hardship and oppression. One of the most crushing aspects of this reality is how much of it happens invisibly, unseen by most others. Fortunately, there are many who work to ensure that LGBTQ+ people are represented, and that things change for the better. In no particular order, here are some organizations illuminating, supporting, and empowering America's queer communities.

#1 in our overview is the Equal Rights Center. This organization identifies and seeks to eliminate unlawful and unfair discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations, in both the Greater Washington, DC area and nationwide. The ERC's core strategy for identifying discrimination is what it calls "civil rights testing."

An example of this strategy in action is when the ERC investigates bias against LGBTQ job applicants at various companies. Using matched pair testing, the group compares the experiences of straight and gay or cis and trans people applying for a job. The ERC used a similar approach when it looked at racial discrimination affecting housing voucher holders in Washington, DC.

At #2 is Equality Michigan, a statewide anti-violence and LGBTQ political advocacy organization based in Detroit. The group strives to serve as a nexus for activism, providing a way to connect victims of individual incidents of bias, harassment, and violence to the support, referral, and navigational services they need to achieve justice.

Equality Michigan uses its web presence to link people with opportunities to advocate on issues they care about, such as removing barriers for gay blood donors, banning homophobic discrimination and conversion therapy, and encouraging voter registration. The group also provides support in filing complaints of discrimination with governmental agencies.

Our #3 is the National Center for Lesbian Rights. A non-profit, public interest law firm, it litigates cases at the trial and appellate court levels, and advocates for equitable public policies affecting the LGBTQ community. Additionally, it provides free legal assistance to LGBTQ people, and conducts community education programs.

NCLR works to broaden public support for LGBTQ equality using a variety of tactics, including hosting virtual town halls to push for protecting the Affordable Care Act and preventing multiple forms of discrimination. Other projects have included litigation and advocacy on behalf of young trans and non-binary athletes.

Coming in at #4 is Freedom for All Americans. This bipartisan campaign aims to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people nationwide. FFAA is comprised of individuals from both major political parties, businesses large and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life.

The group seeks out fair and equal treatment for all Americans by advocating for statutory protections at the federal, state, and local levels. It fights against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, and works to prevent overly broad and harmful religious exemptions that could encourage employers, business owners, or others to choose to disregard those laws.

Rounding out the list at #5 is the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, an initiative of the Partner Program of the Fund for the City of New York. The Project's mission is to make an often-ignored history visible by documenting notable places connected to New York City's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. These sites are grouped by themes such as "Activism Before Stonewall," "The Harlem Renaissance," and "Arts & Architecture."

The organization's website includes a number of curated themes, virtual tours, an index, and an interactive map, all of which are tools visitors can use to learn about LGBT sites of note. The Project's work preserving and documenting history can also be seen on its social media pages, which depict how the LGBT community has influenced the story of New York City and the United States as a whole.