B TP 1

February is a time to celebrate Black History. Today, we continue with a look at significant events and people of queer Black history and how they shaped or were shaped by the narrative of civil rights, arts, and tragic movements. We look at the Harlem Renaissance, Baynard Ruskin’s role in the March on Washington, Stormé DeLarverie's role in Stonewall, Black men loving Black men as a form of revolution during the difficult early years of AIDS, and how the Black Lives Matter movement brought Toronto Pride to a standstill. Let's get started.

B TP 2

Harlem Renaissance (1918 - 1937)

The Harlem Renaissance holds immense significance in Black queer history as it marked a pivotal turning point in African American culture and provided a platform for the expression and exploration of queer identities. The period, which ran from about 1918 to 1937 — between the world wars — saw the emergence of a vibrant 2SLGBTQ+ social scene in Harlem, New York, coinciding with a relaxed social atmosphere and the rebellion against Prohibition-era restrictions.

The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural flowering that showcased the creativity and talent of Black artists, writers, musicians, and theorists. Many of the prominent figures of this movement were members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, although their sexual orientations were often concealed due to the prevalent social stigma and discrimination.

The period provided a space for the expression of diverse sexual identities and gender expressions, with queer entertainers and writers making significant contributions to the cultural landscape. Figures such as Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Wallace Thurman, and Richard Bruce Nugent, among others, were influential Black queer writers whose work reflected homoerotic themes and same-sex romantic relationships.

Furthermore, the Harlem Renaissance allowed for the emergence of Black lesbian and transgender women who made substantial contributions to the cultural outpouring of literature, music, and dancing. Their blues songs and literary works played a crucial role in driving the movement forward and establishing spaces for exploration of queer identities.

In essence, the Harlem Renaissance was as "gay as it was black," as it provided a platform for the expression of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. Acknowledging the queer culture of the Harlem Renaissance is essential to paint a full picture of the period and its profound impact on Black queer history.






B TP 3

The March on Washington - Bayard Rustin (August 28, 1963)

Bayard Rustin's role in organizing the March on Washington in 1963 is a pivotal event in queer Black history. As a gay civil rights leader, Rustin's contribution to this historic demonstration was monumental, despite being kept in the shadows by the Civil Rights movement establishment.

Rustin's strategic brilliance and commitment to nonviolent protest were instrumental in the success of the march, which drew 250,000 people and is widely regarded as the "greatest demonstration for freedom" in American history.

His organizational acumen and dedication to the principles of nonviolence significantly influenced the Civil Rights Movement, and his work alongside Martin Luther King Jr. as a key advisor further underscores his impact.

Rustin's involvement in the March on Washington not only showcased his leadership but also defied the marginalization he faced due to his sexual orientation. Despite being pushed aside by some within the movement because he was gay, Rustin's resilience and unwavering commitment to the cause exemplify the intersectional challenges he confronted as a queer Black man.

As such, Bayard Rustin's instrumental role in orchestrating the March on Washington stands as a testament to his enduring legacy in queer Black history, highlighting his profound impact on the fight for civil rights and social justice in America.






B TP 4

Stonewall - Storme DeLarverie: June 26, 1969

Stormé DeLarverie's role in the Stonewall Uprising is a pivotal moment in queer Black history. As a black lesbian and a prominent figure in the 2SLGBTQ+ community, her actions during the uprising were instrumental in igniting the fight for queer rights. DeLarverie, a singer, cross-dresser, and bouncer, is believed to have been one of the first to resist the police during the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, which was a turning point in the gay rights movement.

The Stonewall Uprising, largely led by Black 2SLGBTQ+ women, was a response to the violent police raid on the Stonewall Inn. DeLarverie's defiance and call to action sparked the crowd to resist, leading to a historic rebellion that galvanized the fight for 2SLGBTQ+ rights.

Her courageous stand against police brutality and her pivotal role in the uprising exemplify the intersectional struggle of Black 2SLGBTQ+ individuals for equality and justice. DeLarverie's actions not only helped launch the Gay Liberation movement but also highlighted the significant contributions of Black 2SLGBTQ+ individuals to the fight for queer rights.

Stormé DeLarverie's legacy as a queer Black activist and her indelible impact on the 2SLGBTQ+ rights movement make her a revered figure in queer Black history. Her fearlessness and leadership continue to inspire and resonate, underscoring the vital role of Black 2SLGBTQ+ individuals in the ongoing pursuit of equality and liberation.





B TP 5

Black Men Loving Black Men in the Early days of the AIDS crisis

Joseph Beam's line "Black Men Loving Black Men is the Revolutionary Act of the 1980s" is crucial for understanding queer Black history as it encapsulates the radical nature of Black queer love and resistance during a pivotal era. This statement, originating from Beam's essay "Brother to Brother: Words From the Heart," challenges societal norms and confronts the intersecting oppressions faced by Black gay men.

The quote highlights the significance of affirming and celebrating Black queer love as a form of resistance against the intersecting forces of racism, homophobia, and the devastating impact of AIDS. Beam's words serve as a powerful affirmation of the resilience and strength of Black gay men, countering the erasure and stigmatization they faced during the epidemic.

When examining queer Black history, it is crucial to recognize that Black people were over-represented during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s. This over-representation stemmed from a complex interplay of factors, including systemic racism, homophobia, and lack of access to healthcare and resources.

Understanding this over-representation is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it sheds light on the intersectional marginalization experienced by Black 2SLGBTQ+ individuals, as they faced discrimination and stigmatization both within their own communities and in broader society. Secondly, it underscores the importance of addressing the dual damage of racism and homophobia, which isolated 2SLGBTQ+ individuals and treated them as diseased rather than as people in need of care and support.

Moreover, acknowledging the over-representation of Black individuals in the AIDS crisis is a critical step in recognizing the ongoing public health disparities and the need for a more comprehensive understanding of how race, sexuality, and gender intersect to shape lived experiences. By confronting this history, we can work towards a more equitable and inclusive future in healthcare, policy, and social support systems.





B TP 6

Black Lives Matter Stops Toronto Pride: July

It was an event that grabbed the world’s attention, on a sunny day in July of 2016, during a celebrating when people had become accustomed to near-complacency, the world was forced to reckon with the ongoing narrative of racialized communities. When examining queer Black history, understanding the significance of Black Lives Matter (BLM) stopping the Toronto Pride parade underscores the interconnectedness of the struggles for racial and queer liberation.

The action served as a reminder that Pride has its roots in protest, harkening back to the Stonewall Uprising of 1969, which was led predominantly by Black and brown trans and queer individuals. It emphasized that the fight for 2SLGBTQ+ rights cannot be divorced from the broader struggle against systemic racism and police brutality. The intersectional nature of this moment speaks to the shared experiences of oppression and the need for solidarity between the Black community and 2SLGBTQ+ individuals of color.

By halting the parade, BLM brought attention to the need for inclusivity and genuine representation within the 2SLGBTQ+ movement, challenging it to confront its own internalized biases and discriminatory practices. This event serves as a call to action for ongoing collaboration and support between these two movements, recognizing that true equality and justice can only be achieved by addressing the intersecting forms of discrimination faced by queer Black individuals.







Be sure to come back tomorrow, as we continue to learn more about the importance of black Queer history and culture.