6 Black Icons You Didn't Know Were Queer

6 Black Icons You Didn't Know Were Queer

It's time for Black History Month again and here are 6 queer black icons to celebrate.
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Today is February 1st, the first day of Black History Month! Black History Month is a celebration of black excellence throughout history as well as an important reminder of what we've been through as a community.

So many of the great works of art and ideas within the black community have come from those of us who identify as LGBTQ+. Among the most popular and visible black queers today include Lee Daniels, Wanda Sykes, Frank Ocean, Laverne Cox, Robin Roberts, Brittney Griner, and Janet Mock, but there have been tons of black LGBTQ+ people throughout history who have accomplished great things and helped fight against racism.

Below are 6 black icons who you may not have known are members of the LGBTQ+ community.


1. Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was a poet and novelist who had one of the most significant and celebrated voices of the Harlem Renaissance. As noted by the Equality Forum, Hughes was not openly gay, but his work still reflected his identity; many literary scholars point to "Montage Of A Dream Deferred," "Desire," "Young Sailor," and "Tell Me" as having gay subjects and themes.

2. Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday was a jazz singer who is best known for "Strange Fruit," which NPR perfectly describes as a "haunting protest against the inhumanity of racism." Throughout her career, Holiday was openly bisexual and many of her female relationships were with stage and film actresses.

3. Alice Walker


Alice Walker is an activist, poet, and writer who has, as GLAAD notes, "confronted society's inequities" in both her writing and activism, "working to bring about racial equality, human rights, international peace, and fair treatment of the trans community." She is openly bisexual and was the first black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her critically acclaimed novel, "The Color Purple."

4. Malcolm X

Sure, activist Malcolm X never identified as bisexual, but, as Bi.org explains, "Malcolm X had relationships with men as well as women. His self-identity was not bisexual, however his sexual orientation and behavior were." (It is worth noting, though, that many of his experiences with men took place during his time as a sex worker.)

5. Angela Davis



Angela Davis is an activist, author, and professor who has fought on the forefront against racism, sexism, homophobia, and all of their intersections. In 1997, she came out as a lesbian during an interview with Out Magazine and, since then, continued to tackle oppression faced by the black community, women, and the LGBT community.

6. James Baldwin

James Baldwin's writing reflected not just his identity and outlook on life as a black man but also as a gay black man; his books "Go Tell It On The Mountain," "Giovanni's Room," and "Just Above My Head" all discuss homosexuality to various degrees.

When asked about being gay, Baldwin responded: "Everybody's journey is individual. If you fall in love with a boy, you fall in love with a boy. The fact that many Americans consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality."

Cover Image Credit: Patrol

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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Don't Ask Me if it's Real or Not

PSA: Don't ask a girl if her hair is real or not, you may get a response you weren't expecting.

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I am a server at a restaurant in Tampa, and last weekend at work I got asked numerous questions about my hair. Normally, getting asked about my hair isn't a huge issue for me, but it was the comments that were said after, as well as the look of disbelief in this person's face when I answered them.

I walked up to greet my table. Two elderly couples were coming in for drinks and dinner. Putting on my best customer service voice and smile, I introduce myself. As soon as I finish, one of the gentlemen looks at me and says, "WOW. Is that all of your natural hair?" I smile nervously and assured him that this was the hair growing out of my scalp. He then proceeds to add a comment saying,

"It's so big. It looks like you stuck your finger in something and got electrocuted."

I had to sit and pause for a second after hearing this. I think my facial expressions could tell how I was feeling, because his wife jumped in and tried to compliment me on the thickness of my hair, envying it because she didn't have as much hair.

After such an experience, I decided to conduct an Instagram poll, to see what other people's opinions were about this incident, and if it's ever happened to them. Based on the results, people with naturally straight hair don't get asked if their hair is real or not, compared to those with naturally curly hair. Out of those with naturally straight hair, about 76% of the people that voted, have not experienced someone question the authenticity of their hair. On the other hand, of those with naturally curly hair, approximately 82% said they do get questioned about the authenticity of their hair. As a result, 66% of that 82% with naturally curly hair, are of African-American decent or mixed races.

So what's the big deal?

Naturally straight-haired people rarely ever get asked if their hair is real, however, once someone comes along with naturally curly hair and happens to be a person of color, originality is questioned. Why does a certain category of people get asked more often if their hair is real or not? Stereotypes? Ignorance? Genuine lack of knowledge?

Whatever the reason may be, it needs to stop. Wigs and extensions are extremely common in this day and age, but they also aren't restricted to one race of people. Even celebrities of fair skin wear wigs and fake hair.

Whenever I get asked about the authenticity of my hair, people look astonished when I tell them it is all mine. Why would anyone think the hair growing out of my scalp is fake? It is a known stereotype that people of color do have more coarse and curly hair textures, but that also isn't the case for everyone. We need to stop putting people in categories based on stereotypes. This applies to more than just hair texture. Especially when interacting with strangers, you cannot assume things based on what you've heard or any prejudgements you may mentally make. Asking someone if their hair is real or not, is just as bad as asking someone if they got a nose job or breast implants. What if you ask them and they say no? It can be more offensive to that person than you think. I understand there are cases where the person genuinely is uneducated about other hair types, but either way, those types of comments or questions should not be vocalized. As a society we need to be more considerate of the things we say, as well as get rid of stereotypes and negative prejudgments. At the end of the day, we are all the same species. We may look completely different than the person next to us, but that's the beauty of it all.

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