Our culture is the sum of the stories we share
Barbara Jordan (1936-1996)
Barbara Jordan was a U.S. congressional representative from Texas and was the first African American congresswoman to come from the Deep South. She was also the first African American woman elected to the Texas Senate.
While Jordan never came out officially, it was known that she lived with her life partner, Nancy Earl. In her career, she became a prominent figure on the legislative committee, leading the call for the impeachment of Nixon. She also sponsored legislation to expand the Voting Act of 1965 to include Latinx, Native and Asian Americans.
Stormé DeLarverie (1920-2014)
Stormé DeLarverie was the community activist and lesbian who incited the Stonewall Riots. It’s said that DeLarverie was called a derogatory term then hit by a cop when she struck back, kicking off the mayhem.
Drag king, bodyguard, MC and bouncer, Stormé was a community caretaker that patrolled the streets to make sure her people were safe. She was known as the guardian of the lesbians in the village and the Rosa Parks of the gay community.
Audre Lorde (1934-1992)
Self-described "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet", Lorde dedicated her life to combating the injustices of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. She used her writing to address these issues. In her collection The Black Unicorn: Poems, she wrote:
“and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
but when we are silent
we are still afraid
So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive”
Born in Harlem New York to Caribbean Immigrant parents, she published over eight books of poetry as well as various in prose and was the poet laureate of New York from 1991-1992. She said this of her poetry: "My sexuality is part and parcel of who I am, and my poetry comes from the intersection of me and my worlds."
Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992)
Gay rights activist and protagonist of the Stonewall Uprising, Marsha P Johnson spent her life reframing the descrimination she faced as a trans woman into fuel in the fight for equality. She found joy despite her circumstances and spent her life spreading it to other folks that found themselves in similar circumstances. When people would ask her gender she would tell them her name is Marsha “Pay No Mind” Johnson.
Marsha P. Johnson is the beloved drag queen and gay rights activist who is often given credit for starting the Stonewall Riots. While she played an active role in the community and continuing the protests afterwards, it’s said she was not present that night at the very first clash on June 28th, 1969. Her and her mentee, friend and fellow activist, Sylvia Rivera went on to start STAR, Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, to advocate for young transgender people and provide them with food, clothes and shelter.
Kasha Nabagesera (Born 1980-)
Out and proud, Kasha is a champion of LGBT rights in Uganda, where being gay is a criminal offense. Despite facing threats on a daily basis, she bravely founded KAGUR in 2003, an organization dedicated to advocating for lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights in Uganda. She also began Kuchu Times, a free magazine aiming to share LGBT stories and educate people on the lives and issues of folks in the LGBT community.
Nabagesera's efforts have slowly changed public opinion on the issue. She says, "I may not live to see the freedom I am fighting for but I am just happy to be part of the foundation for change."