This June marks 50 years since the first Pride Parades were organized to protest and commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising.

Every June since, millions of people around the world pause to remember the spark that galvanized a movement, to look back at hard-won progress and look forward to all that remains to be done.

Pride Is Intersectional!

This particular moment in history is a perfect time to talk about intersectionality and pride.

Intersectionality, a term coined by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, recognizes how people experience oppression because of many different aspects of their identity, such as being both queer and a person of color. Now more than ever it’s crucial to highlight leaders of social and political justice movements who are, or were, living examples of intersectional pride.

We can’t celebrate Pride Month without celebrating all the Black activists who have led LGBTQIA+ rights and justice movements.

Black and LGBTQIA+ Historical and Contemporary Leaders

Here are a few prominent Black leaders in the LGBTQIA+ community.

  • Marsha P Johnson – Black trans leader of Stonewall riots, gay liberation and AIDS activist, drag queen, advocate for homeless people and sex workers, founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, fought against police brutality
  • Bayard Rustin – Gay Civil Rights and LGBTQ activist, helped organize the March on Washington and Freedom Rides
  • Audre Lorde – Black lesbian, intersectional feminist, author. A self-described “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet”
  • James Baldwin – Known for writing about race, sex, and class complexities in America
  • Keith Boykin – White House aide to President Bill Clinton (highest-ranking openly gay person in that administration), author and professor of African American studies, co-founder of National Black Justice Coalition
  • Phill Wilson – Prominent HIV/AIDS activist, founded the Black AIDS Institute
  • Laverne Cox – Trans TV/film star, equal rights activist
  • Langston Hughes – Poet, author, playwright, activist
  • Alvin Ailey – Leading figure in modern dance, choreographer, and activist for black dancers
  • Angela Davis – Black lesbian scholar, civil rights activist, part of the Black Panther Party and Communist Party founded Critical Resistance
  • DeRay Mckesson – Black Lives Matter organizer and civil rights educator
  • Janet Mock – Current trans activist, former staff editor for People.com, created #GirlsLikeUs
  • Monica Simpson – Queer Black woman, artist, organizer for human rights campaigns, Executive Director of the SisterStrong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective
  • Amandla Stenberg – Nonbinary, gay activist, actress, social media influencer

Representation in Government

In June 2020, the U.S. now has 847 LGBTQIA+ elected officials nationwide, (677 of them Democrats), according to the Victory Institute’s continuously updated “Out for America,” map.

The Victory Institute’s latest 2019 Report shows an increase of almost 25 percent in the number of LGBTQ office holders over the prior year’s report. Of significance is that LGBTQ candidates of color and trans candidates have won in unprecedented numbers, increasing the diversity of LGBTQ elected officials across the nation.

  • LGBTQ elected officials who identify as Black, African American, and/or Afro-Caribbean rose 43.3 percent (from 30 to 43)
  • Latinx LGBTQ elected officials increased by 27.5 percent (from 58 to 74)
  • Bisexual representation increased by 126 percent (from 15 to 34) and queer representation doubled (from 12 to 24)
  • Transgender elected officials grew by 53.8 percent (from 13 to 20)
  • LGBTQ cisgender women-elected officials increased by 29.5 percent (from 210 to 272)

We take pride in the hard-won changes in the political landscape, but we can, and should, continue to work to increase representation.

Black-led LGBTQIA+ Organizations

Here are a few Black-led LGBTQIA+ organizations.

This partial list was originally compiled by The Cut. It is not meant to be – and isn’t – an exhaustive list.

  • Black Visions Collective is a trans- and queer-led social-justice organization and legal fund based in Minneapolis-St. Paul
  • Transgender Law Center offers legal resources to advance the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming people
  • Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative, SNaPCo, is an Atlanta-based group that provides community and financial support for Black trans and queer people in need and works to dismantle the prison industrial complex
  • The Marsha P. Johnson Institute’s mission is to protect and defend the human rights of Black transgender people
  • The National Center for Black Equity connects members of the Black LGBTQ+ community with information and resources to empower their fight for equity and access
  • LGBTQ+ Freedom Fund posts bail to secure the safety and liberty of people in jail and immigration detention
  • Black AIDS Institute works to end the Black HIV epidemic through policy, advocacy, and high-quality direct HIV services
  • Black Transmen is a nonprofit organization focused on social advocacy and empowering trans men with resources to aid in a healthy transition
  • The Okra Project addresses the global crisis faced by Black trans people by bringing them home-cooked meals and resources
  • The National Black Justice Coalition is a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black LGBTQ+ people
  • Trans Women of Color Collective, a grassroots funded global initiative; uplifts the narratives and experiences of trans people of color and offers them opportunities
  • Black Queer & Intersectional Collective, a grassroots community organization, works toward liberation through direct action, community organizing, education, and creating spaces to uplift voices

#BlackTransLivesMatter – Recent Intersectional Activism

Learn more about intersectional protests happening now!

Pride is not truly pride until we support and celebrate the myriad of LGBTQIA+ identities, especially those most marginalized. We are proud to lift up the voices of past civil rights movements leaders while turning your attention to leaders doing intersectional work today.

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Shea Seery

Shea Seery is an artist, storyteller, and people person. She recently graduated from Reed College and has been active on political campaigns for almost a decade now. Additionally, she runs artistic programs for underserved youth and houseless individuals. Shea is currently based in Portland, Oregon.