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Additions to the Great Black Britons list:

Dennis Morris - photographer

Private Johnson Beharry - recipient of the Victoria Cross

Dame Kelly Holmes - Double Olympic gold medallist

Linda Dobbs - High Court Judge

Andrea Levy - writer, winner of the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel

Kwame Kwei-Armah - playwright

Sophie Okonedo - Academy award nominated actress

Black History Month Inter School Challenge, Ipswich

100 Great Black Britons full list

100 Great Black Britons celebrates Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender Month by paying tribute to Black Gay Achievers and Icons

100 Great Black Britons and Every Generation are this month celebrating the achievements of gay black men and women, who have throughout history have stood proud and in their own ways have asserted their right to be open about their sexuality and have changed the political, social and cultural landscape of Great Britain by challenging intolerence and ignorance.

"It is so important for us to remember our African sisters and brothers who are LGBT and who have gone before us. Lorraine Hansbury, Audre Laude and amongst the many whose names are known, but there are many more who have struggled and contributed and who our white sisters and brothers ignore and marginalise. LGBT History Month is important as a spur to ensure that we record and celebrate the achievements our community of who have made life better for others. Sometimes just being, and just being out is a victory."

Linda Bellos - proud to be out and proud of my African heritage

"Black gay men and lesbians perform a central role in our past, present and future. their contribution is too often ignored. the list is a key way of letting communities, black or white, gay or straight, celebrate that contribution. It shows that black lesbian and gays have lived lives that challenge homophobia and racism, that have made a significant contribution to our society, and that they will continue to do so. We hope that by celebrating black lesbian and gay achievers, we can encourage debate, share stories of success, and help us better understand the diversity of our commmunities." Rob Berkeley, Vice Chair, Black Gay Men's Advisory Group

"Pink would be nothing without black. The queer heritage is also a black heritage. There can be no history of modern LGBT life without celebrating black involvement and achievement. Ted Brown was one of the pioneers of the Gay Liberation Front in 1970-73, and he is now the main motivator in Black Lesbians and Gays Against Media Homophobia.

During the 1970s, the soundtrack of much of gay (and straight) life was the music of Joan Armatrading. In the 1980s we were blessed with black queer icons like the film-maker Isaac Julian, the academic Kobena Mercer and the photographer Rotimi Fani Kayode. Today, we have an out gay peer, Lord Waheed Alli, and out gay singers like Skin and David McAlmont.

Black LGBT people play an important part in LGBT clubs, culture, politics and protest. They always have and always will.

The freedom struggles of the black and queer communities are intertwined. Despite the differences between racism and homophobia, both black and gay people share a common experience of prejudice and discrimination. We know the pain of exclusion and marginalisation. That gives us a common interest in working together to challenge all oppression. United we are strong, divided we are weak.

The Black Power slogan of the 1960s, “Black is Beautiful”, was the inspiration for the Gay Liberation slogan of the 1970s, “Gay is Good”.

The Gay Liberation Front allied itself with the black liberation movement, supporting black activists like the Mangrove Nine who were framed by the police in the early 1970s. We adapted many of the black civil rights tactics, like sit-ins and freedom rides, to challenge shops, pubs and restaurants that refused to serve “poofs” and “dykes”.

The soundtrack of the first-wave 1970s gay freedom struggle was black soul music. Later, in the 1980s, the dance music of gay clubs was black disco. The contribution of black culture to queer life is immense. Pink would be nothing without black."

Peter Tatchell, queer human rights activist since 1969

Our list is compiled of individuals from the UK and internationally. Please contact us if you would like us to include others at info@everygeneration.co.uk

"Heterosexuality is not normal it is just common, out of one we are many and we are proud to BME!" BLUK - Black Lesbians UK.

We welcome you feedback, so please let us know what you think!

 

Lord Waheed Ali Former television producer, entrepreneur and politician who became the first openly gay life peer in the House of Lords

Rikki Beadle Blair Actor, director, writer, musician who wrote the screenplay for the film Stonewall (1994) and wrote, produced and directed the Channel 4 series Metrosexuality (2001). His new play Bashment opened at Theatre Royal Stratford East

Linda Bellos Activist. Linda has been at the heart of grass roots community activism for over thirty years. In 1981 she became the first Black woman and the first Black lesbian to join the Spare Rib feminist collective, and in 1985 she became leader of Lambeth Council.

 

Dr. Cecil Belfield Clarke (1894-1970). British (from Barbados) doctor who practised in the London Borough of Southwark for nearly fifty years from the 1920s to the1960s. Also an activist, he supported the work of the West African Students Union and, in 1931, was a founder member of the League of Coloured Peoples.

Paul Danquah Actor whose most famous screen role was the Liverpudlian sailor who has a brief encounter with Jo (Rita Tushingham) in A Taste of Honey (1961).

Justin Fashanu (1961-1998) Sportsman. He became the first professional footballer to declare his homosexuality, but his career was affected by homophobia in both the Black community and in English football.

Reginald Forsythe (1907-1958) pianist, bandleader and composer. Innovative jazz composer whose music frequently possessed wit, as well as sophistication, charm and ingenuity.

Leslie 'Hutch' Hutchinson (1900-1969) Cabaret star of the 1920s and 1930s who was the supreme interpreter of Cole Porter's songs.

Isaac Julien Director, screenwriter and producer (Looking for Langston, Young Soul Rebels, Black and White in Colour, Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask). His body of work constitutes a critique of Black gay representation.

Jackie Kay Poet, playwright and novelist. Her first novel, Trumpet, published in 1998, was awarded the Guardian Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

David McAlmont Singer who had a top ten hit with 'Yes' (1995) and gave a high camp and glorious rendition of Shirley Bassey's 'Diamond's Are Forever' (1997).

Valerie Mason John aka "Queenie" British entertainer and playwright. Author of Talking Black: Lesbians of African and Asian Descent Speak Out.

Labi Siffre Chart topper of the 1970s ('It Must Be Love') who returned to the charts in 1987 with the number 4 smash hit (Something Inside) 'So Strong'. Also a celebrated poet.

Cyril Nri Currently starring as Adam Okaro in the Bill, he is also a writer, director and filmmaker. He has worked as an actor for 23 years starting at the RSC. His theatre roles include Ariel at the Old Vic, Oedipus in Manchester and Lymon in August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson. His TV work includes This Life (both series), EastEnders, Family Affairs, Arabian Nights, and the American Mini series Only Love. Film appearances include Bernardo Bertolluci’s Besieged, David Hare’s Strapless, and Long Time Dead.


Femi Otitoju Managing director of Challenge, one of the leading providers for diversity and equalities training in the UK. Femi has been actively campaigning for LGBT equality for many years.

Inge Blackman Writer and director and former programmer of the KLesbian and Gay Film Festival

Skin Former lead singer of rock group Skunk Anansie currently forging a successful solo career

 

Rotimi Fani Kayode (1955-1989) Founder member of ‘Autograph’, the Association of Black Photographers in London. He experimented with colour photography of the black male nude, using symbols derived from his native Nigerian culture. The homoerotic desire of black males was explored in his book Black Male / White Male of 1988 and his contribution to Ecstatic Antibodies (1990). His vigorous use of colour and original use of symbolism seem to reflect both Nigerian tradition and the new possibilities of expression and political debate in London in the 1980's.

International list

James Baldwin (1924-1987) American writer who was one of Black America's most articulate spokespersons in the 1960s. He is now regarded as one of the best American essayists (Notes of a Native Son, The Fire Next Time, Go Tell it on the Mountain, Giovanni's Room).

Gladys Bentley (1907-1960) American/Trinidadian entertainer of the Harlem Renaissance.

Jules Bledsoe American opera singer who created the role of Joe in the musical Show Boat (1927) and introduced the classic 'Old Man River'.

Lawrence Brown American composer who was Paul Robeson's accompanist (and right-hand man) for over thirty years. He was a gifted arranger of Black Spirituals.

Countee Cullen (1903-1946) American poet, writer, editor. An influential but stylistically atypical figure of the Harlem Renaissance.

Gordon Heath (1918-1991) American actor and folk singer whose performances on stage (Deep Are the Roots) and British television (Othello) were acclaimed in the 1940s and 1950s.

Essex Hemphill (1957-1995) American poet who first came to wide public attention as one of the contributors to Joseph Beam's path-finding In the Life (1986), an anthology of Black gay male writers.

Langston Hughes (1902-1967) American poet and writer, Hughes was a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance (The Big Sea, Montage of a Dream Deferred).

Alberta Hunter (1895-1984) American blues singer and songwriter. Hunter's 'Down Hearted Blues', as recorded by Bessie Smith, became the best-selling blues record of 1923.

Nella Larsen (1891-1964) Caribbean-American novelist associated with the Harlem Renaissance (Quicksand, Passing)

Alain Locke (1886-1964) American author and educator, and leader of the Harlem Renaissance.

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) American writer, poet and activist (Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches).

Claude McKay (1889-1948) Jamaican-American novelist associated with the Harlem Renaissance (Home to Harlem, Banana Bottom).

Jackie 'Moms' Mabley (1897-1975) American comedienne, popular at the Apollo Theatre (from 1939).

Johnny Mathis American singer. Sinatra and Elvis are the only male singers with more hit albums in the USA. Mathis went to number one in Britain with 'When a Child is Born' (1976).

Tseko Simon Nkoli (1957-1998) South African activist who founded the Gay and Lesbian Organisation of the Witwatersrand (GLOW) and was later involved in Black gay choirs and sports groups.

Ma Rainey (1886-1939) American singer who is credited with popularising the blues.

Bessie Smith (1894-1937) American blues singer who was known as the Empress of the Blues.

Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967) American jazz musician and composer, he was Duke Ellington's right-hand man

Sylvester (1947-1988) American singer. This sassy, outrageously camp and flamboyant disco diva hit the pop charts with the classic 'You Make Me Feel Mighty Real' in the late 1970s.

Ethel Waters (1896-1977) American actress and singer who introduced 'Stormy Weather' at the Cotton Club and starred on Broadway and in Hollywood films.

Bayard Rustin (1910-1987) Civil rights and gay activist, best known as the organiser of the 1963 March on Washington

Paul Winfield (1941-2004) American actor who was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of a sharecropper in Sounder (1972).

 

Sources

Stephen Bourne (some of the images sourced from his private collection)

Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History eds. Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon (Routledge, 2001)

The Knitting Circle

Delroy Constantine Simms, author, The Greatest Taboo: Homosexuality in Black Communities

Resources/Links

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Month - http://www.lgbthistorymonth.org.uk

Black Gay Men's Advisory Group - http://www.bgmag.org.uk

Black Lesbians UK - http://www.bluk.org.uk

A to Z of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual people - http://gayinfo.tripod.com/

Behind the Mask - A website magazine on lesbian and gay affairs in Africa

The Blacklist

African cultural resources for LGBT communities - http://www.queertheory.com/cultures/ethnics/queer_african.htm#authors

BFI London Gay and Lesbian Film Festival - http://www.llgff.org.uk/

Ruckus! Federation Ltd - rukus! Federation Ltd is a ground breaking cutting edge enterprise dedicated to celebrating and show -casing the best in challenging work by Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans artists nationally and internationally.

For additional information, press images or interviews please contact

Ajamu 07813 823 095
Topher Campbell 07855278795
Email info@rukus.co.uk

Valerie Mason John

Skin

Terrence Higgins Trust

Peter Tatchell

Vernal Scott

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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