February is Black History Month and The Trevor Project is highlighting a few historical, queer people of color. This list is by no means exhaustive, but should pique your interest in the incredibly diverse community that who helped to pave the way for a more inclusive society. In the face of this difficult political climate, learn your history to find strength in the trailblazing heroes who came before us, who stood up to oppression, and changed the world.
“My sexuality is part and parcel of who I am, and my poetry comes from the intersection of me and my worlds” – Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde was a writer, feminist, and civil rights activist. As a poet, she expressed anger and outrage at civil and social injustices she observed throughout her life with technical mastery, passion, and beauty.
“I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” – James Baldwin
James Arthur Baldwin was a novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic. His work explores fundamental internal and external pressures facing people of color, gay and bisexual men, and the internalized obstacles facing those with intersecting identities.
“It’s a long old road, but I know I’m gonna find the end.” – Bessie Smith
Bessie Smith was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s, and is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era and was a major influence on other jazz singers, earning her the nickname the Empress of the Blues. Her story was told in the HBO TV film Bessie, directed by Dee Rees and starring Queen Latifah.
“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something – to say something – and not be quiet.” –Rep. John Lewis. Mr. Lewis spoke in support of LGBT equality from the podium in front of the Lincoln Memorial at the 40th Anniversary March on Washington event. John Robert Lewis is an American politician and civil rights leader. He is the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district, serving since 1987, and is the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation. Lewis was one of the “Big Six” leaders of groups who organized the 1963 March on Washington.
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” – Angela Davis
Angela Yvonne Davis is an American political activist, academic scholar, and author. Davis’ imprisonment for over a year in 1970 inspired the international “Free Angela” movement and among other subjects, she has taught about black liberation, inclusive feminism, LGBT equality.
“Pay it no mind” –Marsha P. Johnson
Marsha P. Johnson was a transgender and gay liberation activist, a veteran of the Stonewall riots, cofounder of the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries with Sylvia Rivera, and an AIDS activist with ACT UP.