During Black History Month in the U.S., we dedicate the month of February to reviewing, dissecting, and analyzing African-American history. From slavery to the Civil Rights Movement to today's African-American experience, we make a concerted effort to understand how those who came before us impact our day-to-day lives.
For those of us who claim both the African-American community and the LGBT community, it can seem that precious little of Black History Month embraces our unique experience. Black, LGBT icons like Bayard Rustin, Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, and others are often either overlooked entirely or stripped of their sexuality when they're included in the canon of mainstream African-American history. Similarly, when today's leaders in the African-American community are acknowledged, the LGBT community is rarely represented.
Novelist Chimamanda Adichie speaks eloquently about the danger of failing to tell a community's stories fully. When we limit ourselves to a single story about any group of people, we risk critical misunderstandings. The African-American community is a tapestry of richly varied stories -- many of which incorporate the experiences of LGBT people. The LGBT community in turn is made richer by the complexity of the African-American experience.
We all benefit when we fully -- and proudly -- tell the stories of those in both communities who are leading the way for us all. In that spirit, I offer this brief look at 11 living, LGBT, African-American icons who have enriched our world. Do you have your own names to add to this list? Be sure to add them in the comments below.
For more from Farah, visit her website.