As we celebrate National Coming Out Day, we cannot forget the Black queer people who fought for our freedom. From Marsha P. Johnson to Bayard Rustin, these are revolutionaries who boldly faced the intersections of race, gender and sexuality.
See some of the amazing heroes below.
1. Bayard Rustin
Without Rustin, there would not have been the 1963 March on Washington. He was the chief architect and Dr. King’s right-hand man.
2. James BaldwinSource:Getty
James Balwin was at the forefront of racial discussions during the Civil Rights movement. He is a pioneer and his work is often sourced as inspiration for many of our activists today.
3. Audre Lorde
A proud womanist, Lorde always fused her identities of Blackness and being a woman. She was a disrupter and revolutionary who called out injustice.
4. Angela Davis
A social justice warrior, Davis has fought for prison reform for decades, especially after she was wrongfully accused of being an accomplice to the murder of a California judge in 1970. In 1997, Davis came out as a lesbian.
5. Marsha P. Johnson
This trans woman was reportedly one of the first people to fight back against police during the 1969 Stonewall Riots. She is the mother of the LGBT movement.
6. Langston Hughes
Langston’s words would become the diary of the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes’ form of resistance was the written word, and he boldly wrote of Blackness that would inspire generations to come.
7. Simon Nkoli
Nkoli fought back against apartheid in South Africa and was openly gay and HIV-positive. He once said, “I am Black and I am gay. I cannot separate the two into secondary or primary struggles.”
8. Josephine Baker
Sexually fluid, Baker was a passionate freedom fighter against injustice in America and in France.
9. Rep. Barbara Jordan
Barbara Jordan of Texas was the first Black woman elected to Congress. She also gave the keynote address to the Democratic National Convention in 1976 and was a huge champion for immigration reform. Rep. Jordan was a true fighter.
10. Lorraine Hansberry
It wasn’t until after her death in 1965 that it was revealed that the writer and activist was a lesbian. Her activism with the “Freedom Newspaper” and Daughters of Bilitis, one of the first lesbian organizations, was inclusive of Black and queer issues.