Black LGBTQ leaders, especially community builders and organizers on the ground, are rarely highlighted for the work that they are doing in their communities. While Stonewall was largely led by Black and brown LGBTQ people, that history has been whitewashed for years. In addition, “Black queer activism” and “the South” are phrases seldom discussed together due to historic notions about the region. This Pride Month, check out these Black LGBTQ leaders creating change in the South.
Micky B – transgender rights
Micky B (she/her) is a Black trans bisexual cultural organizer making liberation a reality in the South. She currently serves as the National Organizer at the Transgender Law Center. She previously worked on a variety of issues in Atlanta such as LGBTQ youth homelessness, HIV prevention, and organizing Queer and Trans Artists of color. Most recently, Micky was a staff member at Southerners on New Ground (SONG), a regional Queer Liberation organization. Micky was the 2018 Atlanta Pride Grand Marshal and co-founded the “Southern Fried Queer Pride” festival.
Quita Tinsley – abortion access
Quita Tinsley (they/them) is a fat, Black, queer femme that writes, organizes, and works to build sustainable change in their home, the South. They currently serve as the Deputy Director of Access Reproductive Care – Southeast, a reproductive justice organization that provides abortion funding and practical support to people seeking care across six states in the Southeast. They’re an alum of Echoing Ida, a Black women and non-binary folks’ media collective of Forward Together. Their writing has been published in Feministing, The Body is Not an Apology, and Scalawag.
Kendra R. Johnson – lgbtq equality
Kendra R. Johnson (she/her) is the Executive Director of Equality North Carolina, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights advocacy group and political lobbying organization in North Carolina and the oldest statewide LGBT-equality organization in the United States. Kendra has remained committed to LGBT equality in the South through her previous work as Arkansas State Director for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). During her tenure at HRC, she coordinated an annual statewide health conference focused on addressing the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Arkansans.
Park Cannon – lgbtq policy
Park Cannon (she/her) is one of the five openly LGBTQ members of the Georgia House of Representatives. A fierce advocate of LGBTQ health and rights, Cannon has continuously supported bodily autonomy. After Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed a law in April banning abortions after six weeks, Cannon joined other Black women lawmakers for a press conference echoing the need to resist and fight back. Before becoming a lawmaker, Cannon served as the coordinator for the Black Women’s Wellness Program at Atlanta’s Feminist Women’s Health Center.
Marnina Miller – hiv prevention, treatment, and care
Marnina Miller (she/her) is a Black queer community leader in Houston, Texas. Her journey to building community began after joining the Positive Organizing Project, a movement that trains people living with HIV on how to become effective HIV activists. After participating in the Project, she has facilitated several trainings on anti-stigmatizing language, effective leadership, sex positivity, and community organizing. Most recently, Marnina was a 2018 Public Policy Fellow at the Positive Women’s Network-USA and is a current member of the organization’s board. Miller currently Co-Chairs for the Texans Living with HIV Network, and has received the Violet Award, which recognizes LGBT advocates in Houston.
Whether you’re celebrating Pride with brunch or dancing all night, it’s important to remember the strides toward progress Black LGBTQ leaders have made in the past. The aforementioned leaders remind us of how intersecting our issues are, and ways to unite moving forward. This Pride, consider donating to their organizations and supporting the work that they are doing.
Armonte Butler is a writer and activist based in Washington, D.C. He is passionate about adolescent sexual health and supports LGBTQ youth of color and youth living with HIV to become activists and leaders in their communities, on their campuses, and at the institutional, state, and federal levels. In addition, he has conducted an array of research on gender and sexual minorities in Argentina and the Dominican Republic. He holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Global Studies and Gender Studies from Sewanee: The University of the South.