After a troublesome Uber ride, a Black queer man created The Lavender Book to help other Black LGBTQ people find safe spaces.
David Johns got the idea for an app after an Uber driver interrogated him because he was wearing fingernail polish.
“I stopped answering his questions,” Johns recalled to KTNV. “I said then, ‘You have the destination. You don’t even have to have a conversation for the rest of this ride.’ He ended up pulling over the Uber and asking me to get out of the car.”
Johns, who is also executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), believes his experience is just one example of what it is like to be Black and LGBTQ.
“When you are in a Black, queer, trans or non-binary body, the likelihood of you experiencing those things is exacerbated incrementally,” Johns said.
The Lavender Book is inspired by Victor Hugo Green’s Green Book, originally published in 1936. The Green Book helped Black people figure out the safest places to eat and sleep when they traveled during the Jim Crow era.
“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,” Victoria Smith, deputy director of the NBJC, told Ms. Magazine.
The NBCJ teamed up with Out in Tech to develop the app. The Lavender Book relies on submissions from individuals and businesses who want to let the public know they’re inclusive. Users can narrow places down using filters including wheelchair access, multilingual employees and the presence of gender-neutral bathrooms.
Allies who are concerned about inclusivity can also benefit from The Lavender Book.
“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.”