Part of the cultural reassessment that’s been occurring over these last few years has been the recognition that many contributions of both the Black and LBGTQ+ communities have been pushed under the rug for too long.
In honor of Black History month, we wanted to shed light on three incredible Black LGBTQ+ pioneers who dedicated their lives to making the world a better place.
Even with Bayard Rustin’s key role in the civil rights movement and his working closely alongside Martin Luther King Jr., his sexual orientation has wiped him from the history books. He was a strong believer in nonviolent protests and devoted his life to fighting injustice in other ways, such as participating in the first Freedom Ride across the south.
Rustin’s career focused on human rights, such as anti-poverty, desegregation, civil and voting rights, and social and racial equality. He worked for multiple important organizations who were drivers of this change, including directing the Committee Against Discrimination in the Armed Forces, whose work led to the desegregation of the armed forces.
Pauli Murray was a gender fluid person of many trades, including lawyer, feminist, author, and Episcopal priest. She faced unfair resistance her whole life, being the only biological woman in her class at law school, denied by Harvard University because of her gender, alongside the myriad of sexist and racist experiences she would have had to deal with in the early 1900s.
Despite this, Murray came out on top, being the first Black person to serve as a state deputy’s attorney general at just 36. That same year she was crowned by the National Council of Negro Women as “woman of the year.” Her long list of achievements are truly inspiring, from her poetry, to legal work, to essays on racial and gender equality, and teaching career, which inspired a whole new generation of activists and shaped the world today.
If you would like to know more about this person’s rich and interesting life, check out the documentary “My Name is Pauli Murray.”
Barbara Jordan was a woman of many firsts. She was the first LBGTQ+ woman in congress, the first Black woman to be elected to the Texas Senate, the first southern Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and the first woman ever to deliver a keynote address at the Democratic National.
Her impressive resume is reflective of her hard work, intelligence, and drive for justice. During her decorated career, she hid her partner of 30 years, Nancy Earl, due to the prejudices of the time.