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Celebrating Black History Month

Highlighting historic black LGBTQIA+ trailblazers who fought for us to be seen as our authentic selves.

In the United States and Canada, February is designated Black History Month, also known as African American History Month. In the United Kingdom, it takes place in October. The purpose of this annual observance is to remember significant people and events that occurred throughout the history of the African diaspora.

Black History Month can be traced back to 1915 when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) first proposed designating a week to recognize and celebrate the contributions of African Americans to American society. This began what is now known as February as Black History Month. Black History Month was first officially recognized in 1976 by President Gerald Ford, who also appealed to the American people, urging them to

seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.

The objective of the celebration of Black History Month is to inform people about the significant achievements of African Americans in terms of both their rich cultural history and their contributions to society. It is a moment to commemorate and respect the accomplishments and contributions of black people throughout history. Additionally, it is a time to highlight the ongoing efforts for racial equality and social justice.

Black History Month is commemorated throughout February in the United States with various events and activities, including presentations, exhibitions, performances, and local community meetings. Many schools and institutions also utilize this month to educate students about the history and culture of African Americans.

Black History Month is also observed in February in Canada, with various events and activities by local community groups, educational institutions, and government agencies. This event's primary emphasis is recognizing and honoring Black Canadians' contributions to their country’s history and culture.

October is designated as Black History Month in the United Kingdom. This date was chosen to correspond with the arrival of the Empire Windrush ship in 1948, which was responsible for bringing the initial wave of Caribbean immigrants to the country. The month is observed by various events and activities organized by community groups, schools, and local governments, with an emphasis on the contributions made by Black British people to the history and culture of the country.

Highlighting Historic Black LGBTQIA+ Trailblazers

Gladys Bentley (1907–1960)

Harlem Renaissance performer Bentley was gender-bending. Bentley sang blues in Harlem’s Clam House and Ubangi Club in a top hat and tuxedo. Bentley, who died in 1960 at 52, was “Harlem’s most renowned lesbian” in the 1930s, according to a 2019 New York Times obituary.

Bayard Rustin (1912–1987)

Rustin was widely recognized for advising Martin Luther King Jr. For his advocacy; he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. In 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom pardoned Rustin for his 1953 arrest for having sex with two guys in a Pasadena automobile. Newsom pardoned Rustin because U.S. law enforcement unjustly persecuted LGBTQ persons during his detention.

Stormé DeLarverie (1920–2014)

DeLarverie, a New Orleans-born multiracial butch lesbian, was always a performer. She rode leaping horses for Ringling Brothers Circus as a teenager. From 1955 through 1969, DeLarverie was the Jewel Box Revue’s sole drag king and MC. She led the Stonewall Veterans Association and bounced in lesbian clubs in New York City in the 1980s and 1990s. “The guardian of lesbians in the Village” was DeLarverie, a volunteer street patroller. DeLarverie also organized and performed at domestic violence fundraisers.

James Baldwin (1924–1987)

Baldwin wrote “Notes of a Native Son” in 1955 and “Giovanni’s Room” in 1956, which explored homosexuality and bisexuality. Unlike the civil rights activists prior works, which focus on Black people, the novel’s all-white cast caught literary reviewers’ attention. Baldwin’s 1982 talk “Race, Racism, and the Gay Community” at the New York chapter of Black and White Men Together (now Men of All Colors Together) was typical of his literary and activism career, which focused on educating people about Black and LGBT identities.

Lorraine Hansberry (1930–1965)

Hansberry wrote “A Raisin in the Sun,” about a poor Black family on Chicago’s South Side. Hansberry was the first Black writer and youngest American to receive a New York Critics’ Circle Award. In March 1959, Broadway’s first African American woman-written drama, “A Raisin in the Sun,” debuted in New York City’s Ethel Barrymore Theatre. A 1961 film starring Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee adapted the classic.

Alvin Ailey (1931–1989)

Ailey started the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 1958. His “Cry” and “Revelations” are still performed worldwide. Ailey received the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 2014 for his contributions to dance in neglected communities.

Audre Lorde (1934–1992)

Lorde, a Black lesbian, feminist, mother, poet, and civil rights leader, contributed to feminist theory, critical race studies, and queer theory through her teaching and writing. “Coal,” “The Black Unicorn,” “The Cancer Journals,” and “Zami: A New Spelling of My Name” are among her most renowned works (1982). I write for the women who cannot speak because they are so afraid since we are trained to value fear more than ourselves.

Ernestine Eckstein (1941–1992)

Eckstein led Daughters of Bilitis, the first US lesbian civil and political rights group, in New York. She attended “Annual Reminder” picket actions and was often the sole Black woman at early LGBTQ rights marches. Eckstein was a 1970s Black feminist activist with Black Women Organized for Action. Historians say she saw LGBTQ and civil rights as interconnected.

Barbara Jordan (1936–1996)

Jordan, a lawyer who was a leader in the fight for civil rights, was first elected to the Texas Senate in 1966 and then to Congress in 1972. In 1994, President Clinton awarded Jordan the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her political foresight. Jordan was honest about her nearly 30-year relationship with Nancy Earl but never revealed her sexuality.

Marsha P. Johnson (1945–1992)

Marsha P. Johnson, a transgender rights activist who joked that “P” stood for “pay it no mind,” played a vital role in the 1969 Stonewall rebellion. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera started a political group in Manhattan called Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR). This group housed and helped homeless LGBT teens and sex workers. In addition, she was an AIDS activist with the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power and a drag performer with Hot Peaches from 1972 until the 1990s (ACT UP).

Willi Ninja (1961–2006)

Ninja was the “Grandfather of Vogue,” a dancer and choreographer who helped popularize the style. Ninja’s 1990 documentary “Paris Is Burning” and Madonna’s 1990 hit “Vogue” popularized vogueing, marked by angular body gestures and exaggerated runway stances.


In conclusion, Black History Month is a significant celebration held every February to acknowledge and honor the achievements made to society by African Americans and other individuals of African origin. In addition, it is an appropriate opportunity to educate and create awareness about the extensive cultural history and current efforts for racial equality and social justice.

InterPride proudly stands in solidarity with our black community to continue the fight against racial oppression worldwide. As we commemorate this important moment in history, let us never forget the struggles our black community continues to face globally. None of us are free until all of us are free to be our authentic selves.

In solidarity,


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