12 Influential Black LGBTQIA Members From Different Parts of the World
Gayness is often a death sentence in various parts of the world., but when you're black and gay, the threats only seem to get worse. Despite their lives and work being at risk, these individuals have done amazing things for their LGBTQIA communities in their countries and beyond.
Brenda Fassie was a famous Afropop singer from South Africa. "The Black Madonna" was known as the "mother of Afropop," and her flamboyancy. She inspired several generations of South African lesbians and gay men to express themselves freely. Her public love for her lover, Sindiswe Khambule, were some of South Africa's first experiences within the LGBTQ world. Even if Fassie wasn't trying, she couldn't help but become a gay icon in South Africa.
Victor J. Mukasa
Victor Mukasa is a Ugandan human rights and LGBTQI defender. Mukasa has been instrumental in several human rights and LGBT organizations like the East Horn of Africa Human Rights, Gender DynamiX, Coalition of African Lesbians, Trans Support Initiative, Uganda, and several more. On top of being a defender, Victor is a transgendered person, and has advocated heavily on behalf of Transgender Africans from all over the African continent.
British poet and performer who has used her bisexuality, gender, and race, as central parts to her work. Agbabi has created groups, like Atomic Lip, to share her love of rhythm and poetry with the world. Her mixed media work has been used to exemplify modern love and change in today's world.
Joël Gustave Nana Ngongang
Joël Gustave Nana Ngongang spent his brief time on this earth advocating for and defending African LGBT and/or HIV/AIDS community members. Nana was one of the eleven men arrested in Yaounde on suspicion of being gay. He took this experience, and begun dedicating his work towards preventing African LGBTQ communities from having their rights taken away like his were in Yaounde. He was of the few advocates to distinguish and create a specific voice for Africans in the LGBTQ world communities. Nana has left legacy of autonomy and agency for Africa's varied LGBTQ communities behind.
Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera
As the "founding mother" of Uganda's LGBT rights movement, Nabagesera has continued the fight against anti-gay sentiment without David Kato, later mentioned. Kasha trained fellow activists from different parts of Africa, and has refused to conform to gender expectations even when faced with beatings and psychological torture. Her experiences led her to form Freedom and Roam Uganda in 2003; to open Uganda's first and only LGBT-centric bar; to become a source of comfort for Ugandan LGBTQ members, and much much more. She is also the only member of the original LGBTQ movement to still reside in Uganda.
I've mentioned Afdhere Jama in another list before, but he definitely deserves a place on this list as one of the few openly Queer Somali Muslims to actively write on behalf of Muslim members of the LGBTQIA community. He has written several books on subjects ranging from being gay in Somalia and Beirut to faith and queerness. He’s also directed several films highlighting the struggle of gayness, religion, and expression. Jama gives insight into the struggle of being Queer, Muslim, and Somali in today’s harsh world.
Diana King is a successful Jamaican singer, and the first out and proud Jamaican artist to date. King has created her own label, ThinkLikeAgirl, and has served as an inspiring figure for her fellow Jamaicans, gay or not. She was awarded for her bravery at the Out Music Awards.
David Kato was known as the leading member of Uganda's gay rights movement, and is considered the first openly gay Ugandan man. He served as an influential leader for Sexual Minorities Uganda, as well as in Uganda's secret LGBT rights movement. He constantly put himself in dangerous positions, like speaking on behalf of Uganda's LGBT community for Uganda Human Rights Commission, to advocate for Ugandans that couldn't find their voice. Despite being arrested and being targeted by tabloids, he continued to fight against anti-gay sentimentality. Consequently, Kato was murdered for his public stance on January 26, 2011. David Kato leaves behind a lasting legacy for LGBTQIA communities in Uganda.
Fannyann Viola Eddy
FannyAnn Eddy was a LGBTQ activist in both Sierra Leone and beyond. Her work spanned from creating the Sierre Leone Lesbian and Gay Association to advocating for gay visibility and rights to the UN. She dedicated her life to fighting for LGBTQ right across Africa, despite the stigma and hatred of gays in Sierra Leone. Tragically, she was brutally murdered and raped in her office, leaving behind a son and a girlfriend. In honor of her work, the FannyAnn Eddy Poetry Award was created in 2008.
Simon Tseko Nkoli
South African anti-apartheid and LGBTQ activist who was extremely influential in advocating for black gay rights around the world. He started several groups, like the first Black gay group in Africa, to connect Black gays across South Africa. His work helped change the way gay right were viewed by the African National Congress. On top of all that, he founded the Gay and Lesbian Organisation of the Witwatersrand (GLOW) that established the first South African pride parade in 1990, and helped overturn laws like S.A.'s sodomy law. In 1998, Simon died of AIDS, but his memory lives on across the world.
Linda Bellos -- previously mentioned in another list -- has been a trailblazer in the feminist and LGBTQIA communities. In 1981, she became the first woman/lesbian of color to join the Spare Rib feminist collective, and in 1985 she became leader of Lambeth Council. She has fought heavily for a more inclusive Britain, and has been known for many firsts, like establishing Black History Month in the U.K.
Bisi Alimi was the first Nigerian to express his sexuality and HIV-positive status publicly in 2004. His announcement sent shockwaves throughout Nigeria, and earned him both accolades and a target on his back. But his experiences didn't begin or end with his controversial public announcement. Alimi had begun his advocacy in the 1990s when he began witnessing the death of his friends due to AIDS. He created several organizations and systems, like MSM HIV prevention framework and The Independent Project, to create awareness and help Nigeria's gay and HIV/AIDS communities. Once Alimi fled Nigeria, he continued to advocate on behalf of gay communities in Nigeria and beyond.
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