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Feb 28

Don’t forget the Black Queer History and Herstory

The 28 days of celebrating historical black excellence is here. In school you might have learned about Muhammad Ali, Frederick Douglass, and Rosa Park. While these folks might have pathed the way for many, it is important to not forget the Black Queer history. 

In honor of Black history month, these are some of the great people of color who helped pave the way for so many people. 

Langston Hughes

Poet and social advocate

“Hold fast to your dreams, for without them life is a broken, winged bird that cannot fly.”

Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was leader of the Harlem Renaissance and always pushed for younger black writers to be objective about their race, but not to scorn it or flee from it.  Langston’s attitude was that he was a black writer, not “the Negro” black writer. He never stopped thinking about others. While Langston remained pretty private about his personal life, many academics and biographers believe that Hughes was gay and included gay codes into many of his poems.

Melvin Boozer 

University professor and activist

 “I know what it means to be called a nigger. I know what it means to be called a faggot. And I can sum up the difference in one word: none.”

Boozer was a university professor, an activist for gay and African-American rights and the first openly gay candidate for vice president of the United States. He became the first African-American elected president of the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) of Washington, D.C. Under his leadership and in collaboration with Frank Kameny. GAA secured passage of the D.C. Sexual Assault Reform Act, which decriminalized sodomy and struck down other anti-gay laws. Boozer became an AIDS activist later died of an AIDS-related illness at the age of 41.

Marsha P. Johnson

Liberation, activist, and drag queen

“I think if transvestites don’t stand up for themselves, nobody else is going to stand up for transvestites.”

Marsha P. Johnson may have been the first person to fight back against the police during the Stonewall Rebellion.  According to her friends in the New York gay right movement, Marsha P. Johnson threw a shot glass at a police officer who hassled her for ID.  Many New York activist give Johnson’s actions credit for sparking the riot that is remembered as the beginning of the modern LGBT rights movement. Johnson also co-founded the organization Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, known as STAR.  STAR centered the needs to transgender women of color and worked closely with anti-racist organizations, including the Black Panthers and the Young Lords.


American actor, drag queen, and singer-songwriter

“If people are saying nasty, hurtful things about you, don’t allow your ego to co-opt the situation by taking what they are saying to heart. Know that what they’re saying has nothing to do with you. It’s them projecting their own self-loathing and fear”

RuPaul is one of the world’s most famous and well-known drag queens. He is a successful actor, singer and television host. Born as RuPaul Andre Charleslearned about fashion from his mother and three sisters. He has worked on numerus tv shows and movies such as “The Brady Bunch Movie” (1995) and “Crooklyn” (1995). In 1996, RuPaul’s talk show, “The RuPaul Show” was named “the most creatively satisfying, fun-filled show.” That same year, he became a spokesperson for M.A.C Cosmetics, making him the first drag queen supermodel. In six years, RuPaul helped raise over $22 million for the M.A.C AIDS Fund. He was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by The Most Beautiful Transsexuals in the World Association.

Audre Lorde 

Author and advocate

“Do not remember meas disasternor as the keeper of secrets, I am a fellow rider in the cattle cars watching you move slowly out of my bed saying we cannot waste time only ourselves.”

Lorde was a Caribbean-American writer, radical feminist, womanist, and civil rights activist lesbian. One of her most notable efforts was her activist work with Afro-German women in the ’80s. As a poet, she is best known for technical mastery and emotional expression, as well as her poems that expressissues surrounding civil rights, feminism, and oppression. Her work gained both wide acclaim and wide criticism due to the elements of social liberalism and sexuality presented in her work and her emphasis on revolution and change.

Laverne Cox 

Actress, producer, and transgender advocate

“When you put love out in the world it travels, and it can touch people and reach people in ways that we never even expected.”

Laverne Cox is an American actress, producer and LGBT advocate best known for her role as a transgender prison inmate in the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black.” She is the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy Award for acting and the first to appear on the cover of Time magazine. As a child, she was bullied for being feminine. Cox has earned numerous awards and honors for her work as well as her activism, including the 2013 Courage Award from the Anti-Violence Project. In 2014, the year her hour-long documentary, “Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word,” aired simultaneously on MTV and Logo; she received a GLAAD Media Award. She was also named Glamour’s Woman of the Year and included on the EBONY Power 100 List.

Janet Mock 

Activist and author

” There’s power in naming yourself, in proclaiming to the world that this is who you are. Wielding this power is often a difficult step for many transgender people because it’s also a very visible one.”

Janet Mock is a New York Times best-selling author, television host and transgender advocate. She began her gender transition in high school. During her freshman year in college, she traveled to Thailand for gender reassignment surgery. Mock has used her experience as a transgender black woman to help advocate for the LGBT community, women’s issues and multicultural awareness. She serves on the board of the Arcus Foundation, which is dedicated to LGBT and environmental advocacy.

As you celebrate America’s Black experience, don’t forever to include voices of black LGBT people in stories that survey African American history and civil rights progress.Black queer futures depend on it.

Honor them as icons who will never be forgotten for what their work they did then, now, and in the future! Black queer futures depend on it.

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