100+ LGBTQ Black Women You Should Know: The Epic Black History Month Megapost

Linda Villarosa, Journalist / Author

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Villarosa has worked as a health reporter and the executive editor for Essence magazine. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Root, O Magazine, Glamour, Health, Vibe and Woman’s Day. She has written books about women’s health and her first novel, Passing for Black, was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in 2008.


Marvita Washington, Model

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Marvita appeared on the 10th season of America’s Next Top Model and is now signed with Ikon Model Management.


Melange Lavonne, Hip-Hop Musician

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Lavonne, who addresses themes of sexuality in her work, released her first album in 2008. Her songs cover topics including Gay Parenting, Domestic Abuse, AIDS, the Presidential campaigns, discrimination, Global Warming, and hip hop hypocrisy.


Nalo Hopkinson, Author

Hopkinson is a Jamaican-Canadian science fiction and fantasy writer whose books include Brown Girl in the Ring, The Salt Roads and Skin FolkYou can read more about The Salt Roads on our list of 10 Novels & Memoirs By and About LGBQ Black Women.


Nirvana Savoury, Musician

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Nirvana started out in the Canadian girl group X-Quisite in the early ’00s and you might recognize her 2009 single, “Lipstick Lover.”


Nona Hendryx, Musician / Author / Activist

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Hendryx is an accomplished solo artist but is also known for being a part of Labelle, a trio who hit it big with “Lady Marmalade.” Hendryx works in many genres including soul, funk, dance, R&B, hard rock, alt rock and world music. She’s Jimi Hendrix’s cousin!


Pamela Sneed, Poet / Actress / Activist / Performance Artist

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Sneed has authored two collections of poetry, Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom Than Slavery and KONG And Other Worksand has performed at venues including P.S. 122, The Studio Museum and The CCA in Glasgow, Scotland.


Robin Roberts, News Anchor

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Roberts has been the anchor of Good Morning America since 2005, following a 15 year stint as a sportscaster for ESPN.
Read the Robin Roberts coming out post here.


Sasha Mallory, Dancer

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Sasha Mallory, a runner up in the eighth-season of So You Think You Can Dance, has toured with Adam Lambert’s Glamnation tour and Madonna’s MNDA tour and has appeared in music videos for Madonna, Adam Lambert, Uh Huh Her, Wayne Brady and Yanbo.


Staci Michelle Yandle, Attorney

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Yandle was nominated by President Obama to serve as United States District Judge for the Southern District of Illinois. Her nomination is currently pending — if appointed, she’ll be the first African-American judge to sit on the federal bench for her district and the first openly gay judge of the 7th circuit.


Jacqueline Woodson, Author

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Jacqueline Woodson is a children’s and young adult author whose works include the Coretta Scott King Award winning Miracle’s Boys and the lesbian YA novel The House You Pass Along the Waywhich you can read more about on our list of 10 Novels & Memoirs By and About LGBQ Black Women.


Sassy, The Black Ink Crew

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via vH1: “Sassy is sweet, sexy, and fun. She has a tattoo of an AK47 on her back, but the AK47 has no trigger. Sassy keeps the guys in line and keeps the shop from burning down. Whether it is taking appointments, being the peacemaker at the shop, or planning an event at the shop, Sassy keeps things running smoothly. She has a strange obsession with being clean and takes more than one bath a day. She is best friends with Puma, and believes in girl power all the way…and is about to take the Black Ink world by storm!”


Skyler Cooper, Actress

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Skyler Cooper appeared on a very special “Lesbians Gone Wild” episode of RuPaul’s Drag U with Julie Goldman in 2011 and has also been featured in movies including The Owls, Insomniacs and Elena Undone. She recently wrote, directed and produced the short film Hero Mars, which she also stars in, about the “limitations of gender conformity and gender stereotypes from my experience as an androgynous person in the arts.”


Wanda Sykes, Comedian / Actress

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One of the most famous women on this list, Wanda Sykes’ career has been long and prolific. She won an Emmy in ’99 for her writing on The Chris Rock Show, has appeared in multiple films and television shows including her own short-lived late-night talk show, appeared in numerous comedy specials, corresponded for HBO’s Inside the NFL, voiced Gladys on Crank Yankers and wrote a book called Yeah, I Said It. She married her wife, Alex, in 2008, and they have two children.

Read our many posts on Wanda Sykes here.


Zanele Muholi, Photographer

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Muholi is a major South African photographer whose “work represents the black female body in a frank yet intimate way that challenges the history of the portrayal of black women’s bodies in documentary photography.”

Read our many posts on Zanele Muholi here.


Mel B, Musician

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Scary Spice has totally gotten with her friends, you guys.


Marla Glen, Singer

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Glen wrote her first song at the age of 11 — a title which has since won three gold records and one platinum. Her father was a blues guitarist, her Mom was a gospel singer, and her mother was friends with BB King. She has been performing all over the world and releasing records since the early 90’s. She currently lives in Germany.


Chagmion Antoine, Broadcast Journalist

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Antoine was the first bisexual newscaster to appear on a major news program when she was hired by CBS News in 2005.


Kathy Harris, Actress / Model / Poet. College Hill: Interns (BET)

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Kathy Harris came out in the second episode of the popular BET show, a decision she’s since said she doesn’t regret because of the positive response she got from fans. Prior to the show’s 2007 season, Kathy Harris had been doing theatre for about seven years and in 2008, Kathy Harris told Rolling Out that she was planning on continuing to pursue a modeling and acting career. She was included in the National Black Justice Coalition’s “The Power of Us” Campaign, which promoted visibility amongst LGBTQ black people.


Phaidra Knight, Athlete

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Phaidra Knight is a professional athlete, sports media talent, motivational speaker and business entrepreneur. She’s made three appearances in the Rugby World Cup, has appeared on television including The Today Show and MTV’s MADE Rugby Episode and served as a Nike Brand Ambassadors. She is also a speaker on topics including leadership, anti-bullying and diversity.

Read our photoshoot and interview with Phaidra here.


Monica Roberts, Journalist / Activist

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Monica Roberts is the woman behind the acclaimed blog Transgriot, self-described as “a writer, award-winning activist, lecturer, speaker, native Houstonian and Texan who transitioned in 1994 and absolutely loves her semi-boring life now.”


Sajdah Golde, Activist/Student, The Real L Word Season Two (SHOWTIME)

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Sajdah was the first black woman featured in The Real L Word franchise. After starring on The Real L Word, Sajdah began producing music videos and also launched BlackOUT Magazine, which she hoped would become “a positive outlet for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of African descent.”


Sharon Bridgforth, Playwright

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Sharon Bridgforth worked as the founder, writer and artistic director of the root wy’mn theater company from 1993 to 1998, and as anchor artist for the Austin Project from 2002-2009. Her scripts and books have earned numerous awards including Lambda Literary Awards and an American Library Association for “Best Gay/Lesbian Book.” Her theater pieces include dyke/warrior-Prayers, no mo blues and The love conjure/blues text installation.


Azealia Banks, Rapper / Singer / Songwriter

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The bisexual rapper dropped out of the prestigious LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts, where she was studying musical theater, and was quickly signed to XL Recordings at the age of 17. Now signed with Interscope and Polydor Records, she has been releasing music since 2011 and her first big album should debut this year. She gets in a lot of fights with a lot of people.


Mia McKenzie, Writer

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Mia McKenzie is the brilliant mind behind Black Girl Dangerous and the author of 2013 Lambda Award winning novel, The Summer We Got Free. She speaks about race, queerness, gender, class, and the intersections of all of these at universities across the country.

Read Autostraddle’s review of The Summer We Got Free here.


Angel Haze, Rapper

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Detroit native Raykeea Angel Wilson, who is of African and Native American ancestry, was raised in what she now refers to as a “cult” — the Greater Apostolic Faith. At 15, after a pastor threatened Angel’s mother, they moved to Brooklyn, at which point Angel was finally allowed to listen to secular music and got interested in becoming a rapper herself. Her first EP, Reservation, was released for free online in 2012, the same year that she took part in the BET Hip-Hop Award’s Cipher, released a mix-tape Classick, was nominated for the BBC’s Sound of 2013 Poll, and was featured on Dizzy Wright’s smokeOut Conversations mix-tapes.

Read our many posts on Angel Haze here.


Angela Robinson, Filmmaker

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Angela Robinson is the writer and producer of D.E.B.S. She wrote for The L Word, Hung, Girltrash and currently writes for True Blood.


Ari Fitz, Model / Filmmaker/ Reality TV Personality

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Ari Fitz is the only member of The Real World: Ex-Plosion cast we’d like to spend more than 15 minutes with. She went to Berkeley to study Physics and left wanting to make horror films.

Read our interview with Ari here, and read #AutoAri — Ari’s answers to Real World viewer’s pressing questions — here.


Brandi Ahzionae, Activist

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Ahzionae, who started D.C’s DMV Trans Circulator and worked with the DC Trans Coalition, wrote an article for JET Magazine last year about her experience as a transgender woman.


Brittani Nichols, Comedian

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Brittani Nichols is a ridiculously important human being. She’s the creator of the webseries Words With Girlsthe rapper behind the world-smashing track “Tandem Ride” and The Comedy Editor and The Sports Editor and a Contributing Editor for the greatest website ever, Autostraddle.com. Brittani has given herself the title of “Saddest Black Person,” but that doesn’t mean she’s not HILARIOUS. For example, she has a witty twitter feed, co-hosts the Travel Size Comedy Stand-Up Show and the Sunday Best Improv with her team Charm School.


Brittney Griner, WNBA Basketball Player

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You know Brittney, dontcha? This current Phoneix Mercury superstar was named the nation’s #1 high school women’s basketball player in 2009, went on to become the first basketball player ever to score 2,000 points and block 500 shots at Baylor University, was named AP Player of the year, and came out as a lesbian in her first interview after being the #1 WNBA draft pick in 2013.

Read our many Brittney Griner posts here.


Celisse Henderson, Musician

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via almost famous: “Celisse Henderson is a queer Californian-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and actress who makes those of us who play less than five instruments look bad. Her decade-long career spans from television to concert halls and all the way to the Broadway stage. And with that voice it’s not at all surprising that she’s in such high demand. Celisse’s brand-new album, Celisse LIVE @ Rockwood Music Hall is now available on iTunes for your listening pleasure.”


Dalia Ali Rajah, Actress / Writer / Producer / LGBT Activist / Life Coach

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Dalila Ali Rajah, who you might recognize from the AfterEllen and SheWired webseries Cherry Bomb, where she talked about sex with other lesbians on the internet! Rajah has been performing since she was a kid, attended Spelman College and then an MFA in acting from California Institute of the Arts. She’s also a spoken word and published poet and a professional Faerie Card reader.

Gloria was in Autostraddle’s It Gets Better Video.


De’Borah Garner, The Voice

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De’Borah‘s mother and father were both preachers, and she grew up in the gospel church community — but eventually her appearance and clothing became “too much” for churches who’d hired her to sing. The Voice was a huge step for De’Borah, as she told AfterEllen: “We literally sit around and sing all day and all night. I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned different kinds of music…. I came from gospel so I’m catching up! I’ve learned different styles, I’ve learned different genres, I’ve learned placement. I’ve learned how to control my voice. It’s like being in Berklee. Everyone is so amazing.” She’s since been performing at Prides all over the country and releasing new music.


Mélissa Laveaux, Musician

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Haitian-Canadian songwriter and guitarist Mélissa Laveaux just released her new EP Memory Is A Strange Bell, which cites influences ranging from Billie Holliday to Emily Dickinson.  She plays music described as “a mix of roots, folk and blues using her signature percussive finger-style guitar and soulful vocal stylings.” She’s opened for artists including Meshell Ndegeocello, Feist and Lura.

Read our Almost Famous on Melissa here.


Dee Rees, Filmmaker

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Rees is the writer and director of your favorite movie ever, Pariah. She was mentored by Spike Lee and worked as a script supervisor intern for When The Levees Broke and Inside Man.

Read our interviews with the people behind Pariah here.


Diana King, Musician

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Diana King is a “reggae fusion singer-songwriter who specifically performed a mixture and fusion of R&B, reggae and dancehall.” She also appeared on The Notorious B.I.G’s 1994 song “Respect,” covered “I Say a Little Prayer” for My Best Friend’s Wedding, appeared on Soul Train and The Rupaul Show, and in June 2012 came out to her fans on Facebook, declaring “Yes I am a lesbian.”


Frenchie Davis, Musician/American Idol Contestant

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Frenchie competed on the second season of American Idol, after which time she was a cast member in the Broadway production of RENT for four years, and later competed on The Voice, when she was eliminated during semi-finals. Frenchie toured with other Voice contestants in the summer of 2011 and has since devoted herself to her solo career.

Read our Frenchie Davis coming out post here.


Genesis Tramaine, Artist

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via genesistramaine: “Genesis Tramaine a Brooklyn based spirited, Black American woman painter who has exhibited paintings throughout New York City including Salt Space. Her work was recently seen in Brooklyn, New York’s Bedvyne Gallery. She has participated in regional residencies and an international group show, Gender: An Exhibition (Toronto, Canada) as the feature artist. Genesis also teaches art to students with severe emotional disturbances and learning disabilities, ages 7-13 at P140 elementary school.”


Jade Ellis, Musician/The X-Factor UK

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Jade Ellis totally called out The X-Factor UK judges for kicking her off the show despite her awesomeness: “I don’t think the decision on Sunday was based entirely on the sing-off. The judges were thinking about their own acts. I believe I sang that song to a really high standard. The vote could’ve been tactical.” In September 2012 she told the press that she’d been raising her six-year-old daughter with her partner of six years, Heba Elgam.


Janet Mock, Author/Activist

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Janet Mock, the former Staff Editor of People Magazine with publication credits including Marie Claire, xoJane and The Huffington Post recently released her memoir, Redefining RealnessShe’s appeared on MSNBC, The Colbert Show, and HLN’s Showbiz Tonight, founded the hashtag #girlslikeus, and was honored by the Sylvia Rivera Law Project in 2012.

Read Carmen’s interview with Janet Mock here.


Jasika Nicole, Actress / Illustrator

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She’s best known for paying Astrid Farnsworth on Fringe, but she’s also got a website she’s kept up since before she got famous and is a really awesome illustrator. We just love her and everything about her pretty much.


K Michelle, R&B MusicianVH1 "Love And Hip Hop Atlanta" Premiere Party

K Michelle appeared on the VH1 series Love and Hip-Hop, securing a contract with Atlantic Records soon afterwards and eventually debuted at number one on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.


Keisha Sean Waites, Politician2010s-Keisha-Sean-Waites

Keisha Sean Waites is a member of the Georgia House of Representatives for the 60th district. Formerly, she was a chief-of-staff to State Rep. Sheila Jones and served on the board of the Atlanta Planning Advisory Board, the boards of the Atlanta Commission on Women, the National Women’s Political Caucus-Atlanta Chapter, Georgia Stonewall Democrats, Fulton County Democratic Party Executive Board, and NAACP-Atlanta chapter.


Kim Crosby, Writer2010s-kim-crosby-640x428

Kim Crosby‘s an award-winning activist with awards including the 2009 Youthline Award for “Outstanding Contribution to Community Empowerment” and one of 2011′s City of Toronto’s Cultural Champions. She’s appeared on panels and conferences including Queering Black History Month, written for places like The Toronto Star, The Huffington Post and Autostraddleand sits on the boards of  Shadeism and the Toronto Arts Council Community Arts Council. She’s an owner of The Glad Day Bookshop, the coordinator for radical healing retreats Brave New Girls and the co-founder of The People Project, a “movement of queer and trans folks of color and our allies, committed to individual and community empowerment through alternative education, activism and collaboration.”


KOKUMO, Musician / Writer / EntrepreneurKokimo Media by Kiam Marcelo Junio

KOKUMỌ is the CEO of KOKUMỌMEDIA, a production company that uses film, music and literature to create and generate realistic depictions of transgender, gender-nonconforming, and intersex people of color.


Laverne Cox, Actress / Activist2010s-LaverneCox

Laverne Cox was the first African-American transgender woman to produce and star in her own TV show, VH1′s TRANSForm Me, which won a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Reality Program, and the first African-American transgender woman to appear on a reality television program when she was a contestant on VH1′s I Want to Work For Diddy in 2008. She currently stars in Orange is the New Black.


Monifah Carter, R&B Divas (TV One)2010s-monifah-carter

Monifah has been recording since 1996, when her debut album Moods Moments was released. She appeared on the TV One show R&B Divas in 2012, and she came out publicly as a lesbian while on the show.


Po & Dice, La-La’s Full Court Life (VH1)2010s-Po-Dice-at-NY-Premiere-ARoberts

La-La’s best friends, out lesbians Po Johnson and Dice Dixon, are a highlight of the VH1 program. Both ladies work with youth in New York City on issues around bullying and foster care.

Read our article about Po & Dice here.


Raven- Symoné, Actress & SingerTinker Bell Honored On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Raven got her start in 1989 when she was cast as Olivia Kendall in The Cosby Show. This was followed by a role in Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper. She released her first album in 1993 and her second in 1999. Her Disney Channel series, That’s So Raven, aired from 2003-2007. Her albums released during this time, like The Cheetah Girls and That’s So Raven sold millions of copies and went gold or platinum. She continues acting on film and television and recording, when she’s not canoodling with her girlfriend AZ Marie.

Read the Raven-Symone coming out post here.


Roxane Gay, Writer2010s-roxane-gay

Roxane Gay‘s writing has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, West Branch, Virginia Quarterly Review, NOON, The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, Time, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Rumpus, Salon, The Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy culture blog, and many others. She is the co-editor of PANK and essays editor for The Rumpus. She teaches writing at Eastern Illinois University. Her novel, An Untamed State, will be published by Grove Atlantic and her essay collection, Bad Feminist, will be published by Harper Perennial, both in 2014. She is at work on both fiction and nonfiction projects. (via)


Ruthie Foster, Musician2010s-ruthie-foster-640x427

Ruthie Foster is a blues/folk singer-songwriter who grew up in a family of gospel singers in Texas. She released her debut album in 1997, toured worldwide, and in 2009 her album The Truth According to Ruthie Foster snagged a Grammy award nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Her 2012 album Let it Burn was nominated for Best Blues Album Grammy. She also won Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year in the May 2010 Blues Music Awards and Best Female Vocalist at the 2013 Austin Music Awards, among other honors.


Ryann Holmes, Co-Founder of Bklyn Boihood2010s-ryann-holmes-424x640

Ryann has called Brooklyn home for nearly the last decade. In 2009, Ryann founded the bklyn boihood collective and is currently the Director of Community Programming at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA), in Brooklyn. Ryann completed undergrad at George Mason University, and graduated from Baruch College’s MBA Entrepreneurship program in 2011. Ryann has been featured in numerous publications, was named one of Go Magazine’s ‘Top 100 Women We Love’, and ranked as Velvet Park’s ‘Top 25 Significant Queer Women of the Year’.

Read our interview with Ryann here.


Bernice, Schoolteacher and Star of South Beach Tow (Tru TV)

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Bernice (real name Lakatriona Brunson) is the Assistant Manager of Miami’s Tremont Towing, the focus of a popular TruTV Reality series. When the cameras aren’t rolling, Brunson is a schoolteacher in South Florida — and she used to play defensive end for the Miami Fury of the Independent Women’s Football League. (info via)


Samantha Irby, Writer

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This bisexual writer made a splash in 2013 with the release of her memoir, Meaty. She blogs at Bitches Gotta Eat and is fucking hilarious.


Seimone Augustus, WNBA Basketball Player

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Seimone appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, dubbed “the next Michael Jordan.” She went on to Louisiana State University and then was the #1 overall pick in the 2006 WNBA draft, going to the Minnesota Lynx. She quickly set the Lynx team record for points in a single season, was named 2006 WBA Rookie of The Year — setting the tone for a WNBA career full of awards and record-breaking. She also established a Scholarship fund, teamed with Feed The Children and volunteers at the Gus Young Center in Baton Rouge.


Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, Activist

photo via Post news Group

photo via Post news Group

Miss Major has over 40 years of experience as an activist for the transgender community, going back to Stonewall until today, when she serves as the Executive Director of the Transgender GenderVariant Intersex Justice Project, working tirelessly for trans and gender variant people within and outside of the prison system. Miss Major became politicized while incarcerated at Attica and was an original member of the first all-transgender gospel choir. She is the subject of the documentary MAJOR! , produced by Annalise Ophelian and StormMiguel Florez.


Shine Louise Houston, Filmmaker

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Shine Louise Houston is the main director and producer for Pink & White Productions, a pornography company devoted to female and queer sexuality, like your favorite website, The Crash Pad Series.


Syd tha Kyd, Singer / Producer  / DJ

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Sydney Loren Benner, known as Syd tha Kyd, is a main producer of Odd Future, producer and mixer for trip-hop group The Internet and the main producer for Mike G of Odd Future.


THEE Satisfaction, Musicians

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THEE Satisfaction is a hip-hop duo comprised of rapper Stasia “Stas” Iron and singer Catherine “Cat” Harris-White.


Toni Newman, Author

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Toni Newman is a law student who previously worked as a professional mistress and along with a female mistress and male master, were known as THE EROTIC PROFESSIONALS. Toni and her business partner wrote a book about their experiences as escorts, which included celebrity clients. Her memoir I Rise was published in 2013.


Vicki Randle, Musician

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Randle is best known for being the first (and only) female member of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show Band, starting in 1992. She’s toured with artists including Aretha Franklin, Kenny Loggings, Lionel Richie, Herbie Hancock, Branford Marsalis and Celene Dion.


Layshia Clarendon, WNBA Basketball Player

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After leading her UC-Berkeley team to place second in the NCAA Tournament, Clarendon was part of the Gold Medal US Team at the U19 World’s Championship and was selected 9th overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft, picked up by the Indiana Fever. Layshia is also an out and proud LGBT Activist.


Jasmine Jordan, Michael Jordan’s daughter

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Jasmine Jordan is 21 years old, making her the youngest person on this list.


Click on over to Page Three FOR EVEN MORE AMAZING LGBTQ BLACK WOMEN!

Pages: 1 2 3 See entire article on one page

Riese is a Jewish lesbian and the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2597 articles for us.

105 Comments

  1. A terrific list but I did want to point out one glaring omission… Miss Major Griffin-Gracy. Stonewall veteran, longtime trans activist and a woman who’s been working hard for prisoners rights. I think if you were to ask any of the trans women on your list she’s one of the first people they’d put on their own lists.

  2. Yay! Go black queer women go black queer women GO!

    YAYYYYYYY!

    This needs to happen every single year. Such a beautifully historical post, too!
    I appreciate you Riese. Really. Thank you for this. It means a great deal to see that there are 100+ black queer women that the world (and readers of AS) got introduced to and re-introduced to. And I can’t wait to see this list grow…

    I can’t wait to see all of the other lists that’ll come from this.

    Riese, you bringing that fire grrrrrl.

  3. HOLY SHIT THIS IS AMAZING!!!

    I’m saving this for future reference and when I’m dealing with the “lonelies” of mostly finding myself in really white queer academic spaces.

    This was a pick me up!

  4. MOMS MABLEY.
    Love her so much. And Raven. And Edmonia Lewis. And Robin Roberts. And Ethel Waters. And Josephine Baker. And Staceyann Chin. And Angel Haze. And Wanda Sykes.
    Actually, weirdly, Robin Roberts’ coming out had a HUGE effect on me, maybe more so than any other celebrity coming out so far. I guess because I hadn’t expected it, she’s such a background presence in my life (I always have the news on), and she just seems so…normal? I get teary just thinking about it. She’s so great. Love her so much.

  5. holy crap moms mabley was queer? I’ve watched snippets of her in different documentaries when talking about women in media and comedic icons (one documentary done by pbs) and non of them mentioned that detail. this list is awesome, thank you for compiling it?

  6. Look at all these beautiful and amazing people!

    for the record, I wrote about Edmonia Lewis in a feminism class years ago and pretty much became obsessed with her so seeing her on this list made me SO HAPPY.

  7. I heard a (hopefully true) rumor that Angela Davis will be teaching an undergraduate course at UCSC spring 2015 for the history of consciousness department. It would be amazing to take a class taught by her.

    This list is amazing, so many books, stories and music I need to check out. Thank you!

  8. Josephine Baker in that tux… *drool*

    But in all seriousness, thank you for this. Loads of people I knew. But there were many I either hadn’t heard of or didn’t know they were queer identified. Lots of music to hear/reading to do/history to learn!

  9. This is fantastic! Thanks for introducing me to several amazing people I wasn’t aware of before.

    I also want to add that Tracy Chapman’s official website is super fun!

    And am I the only one who thinks that picture of Angelina Weld Grimké looks a lot like Marsha Thomason? She should totally play Angelina in a biopic!

  10. I LOVE THIS POST! I love it so much because after all these years of following Autostraddle, this is the first post to inspire me to make an account. I had to ! I needed to mention one of my personal faves, whom I think never gets recognized in a category like this is BIBI MCGILL. She’s infamous for being the lead musician in Beyonce’s all female touring band, as “the guitarist with the Afro “. She started doing solo shows when Pink hit her up to audition for her. After that everyone wanted a piece of that in their act.

    Here’s a quote from Bibi –
    “Being not only a woman but a Black woman has helped my career because it’s different. Not everybody is doing it. Guitar is an instrument that mostly Caucasian men play…and then here I come with the tattoos and the fro.”

  11. Oh but where’s Joan Armatrading? My mum let me have her vinyl collection when I was a kid and I would play love and affection over and over. What a voice! What lyrics. It was even on the L word.

    • Totally agree, Hat. Everyone always lists Tracy Chapman, but leaves out Joan Armatrading which is totally her original inspiration. Because Joan’s British? Because she struggled with the closet for decades? Whatever, I want to see her listed in everything too, because she was such an influence in the 70s and 80s..

  12. a queer musican and filmmaker: b.steady

    http://www.youtube.com/user/QueerBGirl
    http://bsteady.tumblr.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/bsteadwell

    from her facebook page:
    “queerpop songstress filmmaker from washington dc.
    Biografie:
    B.Steady explores the art of making fun pop music and films for queer people of color and other folks with silenced struggles. Located somewhere within the traditions of Sweet Honey in the Rock, julie dash, The Clovers, issa rae, Bobby McFerrin, audre lorde and BonIver.

    She released her first self-produced album on Itunes in January 2011, and posts an original live song weekly on her queerBgirl youtube video blog.

    Her music is simple yet infectious, and always sincere. In her own words, “Some days I want to write sappy love songs for my girlfriend. Some days I want to write about a season. Some days I want to write about racism. But mostly, I want to write fun music for people like me.”

    B is a singer/MC in the queer pop group The Lost Bois, and is currently attending Howard University in pursuit of her M.F.A. in film.”

  13. THIS x10000000!!!!!!

    Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love.

  14. You forgot of María Cora who is a fascinating multi-faceted African American-Puerto Rican artist, comfortable as a writer, poet, filmmaker, performer, and musician. Her inspired lead vocals have added pizzazz to many groups since arriving in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980’s, including Orquesta Sabrosita, Los Pleneros de la 24, Azúcar y Crema, Babacool, Once, Canto de Corazón, Different Touch, and currently Azúcar Con Aché. Her versatile bilingual vocal talent shines in work as diverse as principal narrator for the documentary “Every Child is Born a Poet: The Life of Piri Thomas”, as writer/director and narrator for the short film “Negra Linda”, as vocalist on the Piri Thomas recording “’No Mo’ Barrio Blues”, and as writer/actress of the play “Verbo Corazón: Latina Heart Rhythm”. María has served as MC/Host for a multitude of events, including the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, the San Francisco World Drum Festival, the Redwood Music Festival, and the Encuentro del Canto Popular. She has also been honored with a La Estrella award, a Lesbian of Achievement and Vision (LAVA) award, a Prisma award for Achievement in Performing Arts, and a WAMMIE Alternative Music award for Best Latin Band (with Azúcar y Crema). She holds a BA from Harvard University/Radcliffe College and an MA in Ethnic Studies from San Francisco State University. María Cora has lived in the Bay Area for the past 32 years and now is the Associate Director of LHRC (Lesbian Health Research Center) at UCSF!

    • It probably depends on how broadly you define queer, certainly having read her work, most of her main characters were not straight, even when they were mostly heterosexual they often had polyamourous and pansexual relationships.

  15. this list is incredible! I’m not sure if I missed it though, is Lena Waithe on here? I’m still reeling from her Twenties previews, and I know Dear White People will be incredible. Thank you for all of the hard work, Riese!

  16. There are some more glaring omissions to this list including and I really don’t understand how she was missed, Nikki Giovanni. But I still appreciate the wonderful celebration. For me as an artist it gives me something to strive for, definitely want to make this list.

    • aachhhh nikki givoanni is right here in my notebook on the original brainstorming list i made a while ago when i started planning out this list, i have no idea what happened w/r/t her never making it to this computer screen, you’re so right! anyhow, i’m glad you liked the list just the same!!

    • Janelle Monae has never said anything very specific about her sexuality (aside from telling Pitchfork that she had recently broken up with a boyfriend), so I would refrain from making assumptions. Believe me, I’d love for her to be queer, but it’s not fair to ascribe a sexuality to someone without their input.

  17. I was discussing this with the President recently, and we were both like, Anita Dolce Vita, Managing Editor of dapperQ, should be on this list! I mean, pffft, what is happening here? http://giphy.com/gifs/ebArIR9bXq4b6 A beautiful, successful African-American woman that is doing so much on many fronts. A public servant like me! I luv her and you should too in 2015!

    Gotta go now, my new book comes out on June 10th: http://giphy.com/gifs/UbzJl5FZDsQqQ

  18. Really? We’re really citing “Lesbian Lists” as a true source???

    No offense, I applaud the idea of promoting people we think are queer, but it’s nice to get sources that are a little more airtight than a book that contains a bunch of un-cited, arbitrary lists.

  19. I really like the pictures, but at the end of the day anyone’s sexual preference is as irrelevant as their skin color. I will never understand why anybody feels the need to announce their sexual preference it’s your business and the world doesn’t need to know, I respect you no more or less regardless of your partner preferences – my sexual preference = my business.
    I think life and humanity should be celebrated, not individual groups…black, white, gay, straight doesn’t matter…

    • I’m confused as to why you would be reading a lesbian site, then…? And I consider my partner preference to be part of my humanity that I want to celebrate.

    • It most definitely matters… Every piece and part of us matter. As a hetero black woman, it is more than important to find places where we can be acknowledged, validated, advised and validated. There is NO WAY in this world you have never consulted, joined, read or sought out a website, magazine, group, book, club, etc. that is not either gender specific, hobby/interest specific, disability/illness specific – I could go on and on. We all seek information that applies to “us” whatever that wonderfully, different, unique and completely valid “us” is. You wouldn’t be on this website if you hadn’t. Why am I here? Because even as a Multi-Ethnic, mostly Black woman, I know that I have Sisters in this world that I owe a deep debt to for their struggle, bravery and complete gifts to the world as a result of their authenticity and just being fuckin’ bad ass! If you don’t believe your sexuality matters, think again, because your employer does, the government does, the church does, your stupid fuckin’ nosy neighbors do, and if you don’t have the gift of a loving, open family, they care. In fact that list can go on and on, too, depending on your life situation. In fact, I’m convinced you’re still in the closet. In fact, I’d be willing to say you’re a closeted White lesbian because you definitely live a life of White privilege (read Peggy Macintosh’s Unpacking the Invisible Backpack). Does that matter? No, not to me but you come on a totally lesbian site and say the most homophobic bullshit like “black, white, gay, straight – doesn’t matter” It ALL matters, it’s all relative, Baby. You can’t be poor, “unattractive” by society’s standards, a person of color, an out-of-fashion dresser, a cashier at McDonalds, a meat-eater, a non-meat-eater – anything that mainstream society sees as “out of the norm” without being judged. So, trust and believe your color/ethnicity, religion, political views, and YES your sexual orientation definitely matters.

  20. I wish Toshi Reagon was on this list!

    Also: Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Chirlane McCray, June Jordan. Everyone from Combahee River Collective.

    Anyway, love the list! Especially the historical figures.

  21. Im blown away. Did not know that over half these women were/are lesbians. At the age of 65 im still learning new things. thank you for making so many of us aware of this tidbit. I thank you.

  22. Just wanted to add one very important person not on the list…Gail Ann Dorsey. David Bowie’s Bass Player for the the last 20 years, Independent artist/performer, and session bassist extraordinaire. She is the shizzle. Bass players always get forgotten, but without us the funking soul in the groove lacks the punch of love!

  23. All those women are not Lesbian, the name of the article is very misleading. I love the article that says, ” Bentley was an out lesbian from the get-go and once, dressed in “men’s clothing,” tried to marry a woman in Atlantic City. But during the McCarthy era Bentley took a turn — she married a man and wrote an article for Ebony magazine entitled “I am woman again,” about how she was “cured” of homosexuality by religion and female hormones.”

    Seem today, people are trying to become men, in stead of taking hormones to help them feel more like the woman they are, they are taking hormones to try to become the man they can never been. You cannot change your genetics. So, at least one got it right.

  24. I had no idea Ms. Vance was dead. I didn’t follow her career fully. I just know her from being a lifelong SNL junkie. She was one of the only bright spots in a particularly shitty cast year.

  25. im going to be very brief.I was appalled by the statement that was legated on Mrs.Carmen Mctae,who is my very missed mother.Being a entertainer myself I’m aware that people ,men’s or lady gravat,like flies…So what I’m tring to say my morher id not a lesbian…

  26. Bishop Yvette Flunder has been a for runner in the Human Rights and Social Justis Movement. she is presently the presiding Bishop of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries Inc. She’s is on the Demcratic Ministers Axillary for Northern California President Ellect Oboma campaign. She is The Voice that won’t be silent anymore speaking against homophobia and Transphobia, Bigotry and inter-relations of abuse. She is the Pastor of the City of Refuge United Church of Christ in Oakland Ca.

  27. This was a wonderful read!!! Two people to add Bishop Yvette Flunder out of Oakland California, and Pastor Vanessa Brown of Rivers of Living Water Churches in New York and New Jersey!! FACINATING LGBT women making huge waves!

  28. I know I’m late to the party, but Angel Haze isn’t a woman… they’ve repeatedly stated that they prefer neutral pronouns and feel closer to a masculine identity than a feminine one, if anything.

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  30. I know I’m late to the party, but Angel Haze isn’t a woman… they’ve repeatedly stated that they prefer neutral pronouns and feel closer to a masculine identity than a feminine one, if anything.

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