4 Queer Womxn & What We Can Learn From Them ✨
I saw a fantastic play called ‘The Inheritance’ late last year; it was moving and shone a light on our collective history. And the key word here is history; we owe a lot to those who came before us and paved the way. It falls to us to build on that, not just for us but for those who will come after us
Queer people of colour (POC) history is important, specifically beyond the mainstream representations of LGBT History Month. To do this justice in colourfull 🌈 style, I’ve profiled 4 inspirational people. I was led by their stories and then realised that 3 of these womxn are trans and 2 of them are black. Given, these voices are often the most marginalised and silenced, it gives me even more joy to celebrate them today 🎉
I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed writing it. And I've shared the lesson I've taken from each of their stories, under each of their names. They are my interpretations; I hope they give you comfort and inspiration as they have done for me.
(If you can) be visible; share our stories and our identities;
because they matter
She was all about intersectionality long before it became a thing, embracing different parts of her identity and often describing herself as 'black lesbian mother warrior poet’.
She kept it real 💪and was ahead of her time, fearlessly speaking out on intersectional identity, challenging (lack of) representation and inequality as well as championing the power of difference in building a stronger society. She did much of this through her work, from contributing to the civil rights movement, examining her sexuality and her battle with breast cancer.
Her words still resonate today; it’s like she knew the world could be as fucked up as it is now (Trump, Brexit - need I say more?) and implored us to think differently.
We’ve got to work harder to be seen and heard, but by doing so
we pave the way for a better future
She was at the Stonewall riots we talk about today, and importantly, along with her close friend Marsha P. Johnson represented queer people of colour. That symbolic night has been well documented, but it’s Sylvia’s work after that I found most inspiring 😍.
First, she co-founded STAR (Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries - the T changed to Transgender in 2001) which supported homeless queer youth and transgender people in prison. Second, she fought hard for the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act and transgender rights in general. Third, she embraced her gender fluidity; challenging gay rights leaders at the time who presented the world as hyper-masculine. All of this speaks to visibility 🔍 which can never be underestimated.
Her legacy lives on with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project which offers legal support and assistance to trans and non binary people of colour.
The family we create is important; it’s often a place where we get true acceptance, compassion and support - so treat them with love.
This is less about defiant activism and more about creating family 👨👩👧👦. Which is why Angie’s story resonated with me. She was a key cast member in Paris is Burning (one of my favourite films) and was the Mother of the House of Xtravaganza (one of the first predominantly Latinx houses on the drag ball scene back in the day).
She was fierce and fiercely protective of her ‘kids’ - youth who may have been homeless and/or rejected simply for being queer. We all know how Mums are typically central to the construct of family - uniting us, symbolising love and compassion. Angie was all those things to young people who needed it and more. One of her ‘kids’ said it wasn't about the mother who gave birth to you, but the one who raised you. And Angie raised numerous vulnerable ‘kids’ during her time, giving them love and hope.
This concept of having to create your family when you come out/become aware of your sexuality and finding your community rings true even today. And it’s all too often a harsh reality for many people of colour that they have no choice but to do so.
Tracey Africa Norman
Life is unpredictable; there is no linear path to progress -
so stay true to yourself along the way
Tracey is chic - those cheekbones! She was the first known black trans model and appeared on a box of Clairol hair dye in the 70s - but she was discreet about her identity at the time. Her modeling career grew, but she kept her secret until she was outed 😠. Her career took a hit - déjàvu anyone given the discrimination trans people face at work today - and work dried up.
Cut to present day, and it came full circle. After The Cut published a piece on her life that celebrated her back in 2015, Clairol reach out to her again and made her the face of a new campaign and she has since been recognised for her achievements and graced the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. That’s pretty fucking awesome and she continues to inspire today 💋
Happy LGBT History Month!