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Black LGBTQ+ Pioneers Through History

Category: black history month, IOPC, Independent Office for Police Conduct, black, black women, Black Lives Matter, Black Talent, Black History, Inspirational Black Icons, black British, Black Professionals, Black culture, The Black Experience, Black female, Black heritage, Black talent and culture, Black inclusion, Black Queer, IOPC Pride, Black LGBTQ+, Black LGBTQ+ History


Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde (born 1934) was an American poet, writer, feminist, librarian, and civil rights activist. Her work was influential to the anti-war, civil rights and women’s movement during the later half of the 20th century Lorde’s poetry collections include “From a Land Where Other People Live” (1973) and “The Black Unicorn” (1978). She used her platform as a writer and poet to spread ideas about intersecting oppressions and experiences, especially those faced by women of colour. 

Marsha P. Johnson

Marsha P. Johnson (born 1940), also known as Malcolm Michaels Jr., was an American gay liberation activist and self-identified drag queen. Known as an outspoken advocate for gay rights, Johnson was one of the prominent figures in the Stonewall uprising of 1969. Johnson died in 1992 under suspicious circumstances.

Ron Oden

When Ron Oden (born 1950) was elected mayor of Palm Springs, California, in 2003, he made history by becoming the first openly gay African-American man elected mayor of an American city, according to The Advocate. Following Oden's historic election 15 years ago, the Palm Spring City Council made history once again: In December 2017, it became America's first all-LGBTQ city council.

RuPaul Andre Charles

RuPaul Andre Charles (born 1960) known as RuPaul, is an American drag queen, television judge, recording artist, and model. He is best known for producing, hosting, and judging the reality competition series RuPaul's Drag Race. He became a spokesperson for MAC Cosmetics in 1994, raising money for the Mac AIDS Fund. He is the most-awarded person of colour in the history of the Primetime Emmys. He has been credited with creating wider exposure for drag queens and putting LGBT culture into mainstream society.

Justinus Soni

Justinus Soni (born 1961) known as Justin Fashanu grew up in care after his parents split up when he was six. He became England’s most expensive black player with his £1m move to Nottingham Forest after a successful spell as a striker for Norwich City. In 1990, he became the first professional footballer to come out as gay. He endured racism and homophobia on and off the pitch and was the subject of a hostile media campaign led by The Sun. In 1998, he was accused of sexual assault and subsequently, took his own life. His suicide note explained that he did not think he would be granted a fair trial because of his sexuality. In 2020, he was entered into the Hall of Fame for his services to football.

Gamal Turawa

Gamal Turawa known as G was born in the early sixties to a Nigerian father and a Jamaican mother. He spent his early childhood in foster care and later grew up with his father in London. G was the first openly gay black police officer in the Met Police after joining in the 90s. He endured discrimination and suffered with mental health issues and identity issues as a result. He is now retired and works as a consultant to the police on diversity, inclusion and cultural competence.

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah (born 1974) better known as Lady Phyll, is a British LGBT+ rights activist and anti-racism campaigner. She is the co-founder of UK Black Pride, which began in 2005 as a day trip to Southend-on-Sea in England. It now attracts nearly 8,000 people every year.

Alicia Garza

Alicia Garza (born 1981) received her B.A. degree in anthropology and sociology in 2002 from the University of California.  Alicia co-founded the Black Lives Matter movement with one Facebook post that ended with the words 'black lives matter' and forced a nation to wake up to the racial inequity that is so rife. She now holds many accolades and hasn't given up using her voice to occupy spaces where historically these parts of her identity were outlawed.’

Montero Lamar Hill

Montero Lamar Hill (born 1999), known as Lil Nas X, is an American rapper and singer. On December 3, 2018, Lil Nas X released the country rap song "Old Town Road", Controversially, it was removed from the Country charts, which some people criticised as being racist. Old Town Road won two Grammy Awards and became the longest running number 1 song in history. Lil Nas X has since become a fashion icon, highlighted by Vogue, who said he was a master at the cowboy aesthetic glam look and he often plays with non-conforming gender styles in his videos and appearances in a provocative way and as a form of expression.

Recommended media



Pose (Netflix/BBC iPlayer)

The Black Cop: A Villain, a Victim, and a Hero (YouTube)

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (Netflix)

RuPaul’s Drag Race (Netflix, BBC iPlayer)

Forbidden Games: The Justin Fashanu Story (Sky)

Disclosure (Netflix)

L Word: Generation Q (Sky)

Forced Out: A Detective’s Story of Prejudice and Resilience – Kevin Maxwell

Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements – Charlene A. Carruthers

Girl, Woman, Other – Bernadine Evaristo

The Color Purple – Alice Walker



‘This is radical love’ – the history of black queer Britain in pictures | Photography | The Guardian

The Year of the Black Queer Revolution - Rolling Stone

Mellon Mays scholar explores queer culture and Black identity > News > USC Dornsife

A quick summary on the history of homophobia in the West | Out Leadership

In celebrating LGBT+ history, we canâ?Tt ignore Britainâ?Ts role in exporting homophobia (newstatesman.com)

From colonialism to ‘kill the gays’: The surprisingly recent roots of homophobia in Africa - The Washington Post

Theresa May says she deeply regrets Britain's legacy of anti-gay laws | LGBT rights | The Guardian

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