Black people for centuries have said if you want something done, you have to do it yourself. While many Black LGBTQ+voices continue to be targeted and silenced in popular queer spaces, some have made it their life’s work to follow in the footsteps of those who have come before us. By speaking truth to power, these Black LGBTQ+ activists are reminding us that the only way we are ever going to be fully liberated is by making the personal, political.
Ashlee Marie Preston is dedicated to creating more pro-trans conversation in Black spaces. Being profiled by Amnesty International and giving a TEDx talk regarding the 35-year life expectancy of Black trans women, Preston is highly vocal about the injustices trans women face and the need for care not being provided by the administration. Preston hopes to leave behind a legacy that is, “not only about resilience, but one that speaks to joyful resilience.”
George M. Johnson is a journalist and activist who centers much of his work on speaking to the narratives of Black gay men. “I am a storyteller at heart,” he tells ESSENCE. His legacy? “I want to leave behind a memory like my grandmothers, she was a blueprint for the movement. I hope to one day say my work inspired-right, wrong or indifferent.”
patrisse cullors not only leads the #BlackLivesMatter movement but writes and teaches us all about what true liberation looks like. “True liberation for Black LGBTQ+ is joy.” For, her legacy isn’t about her or her work, but about liberation. “I want folks to know that what’s happening now has never been about Trump, but about what has happened to our people for generations.”