Getting to know queer people, specifically queer people of color, can increase empathy and allow people to shift their perspective and change their beliefs. The hope is to normalize something “different” so that differences become normal and not threatening. Queer people of color, particularly black transgender women, are the most marginalized and at-risk population for discrimination and violence.
As I write this, the latest two attacks of Black queer people, both transgender, to make the news are the death of Tony McDade, 38, and the attack on Iyanna Dior. McDade, a black transgender man, was shot and killed by police in Tallahassee, Florida, on May 27—two days after George Floyd was murdered. Dior, 21, was beaten by a mob of mostly black men after a reported minor car accident.
The intersectionality of race and queer identities is complicated at best. “The treatment that the black trans community in America receives from within its own black community is comparable to the treatment black men receive from law enforcement,” reads a statement by Abounding Prosperity Incorporated.
Queer Black people are using social media platforms to tell their stories. These stories educate and provide visibility to the work that needs to be done. They are also representing happy and full lives existing in the overlap of Black and queer communities. Queer people of color are not just the violence that threatens them; they are the everyday routines everyone can relate to. Follow these 15 social media accounts to get to know some badass Black queer folks.
1. Janet Mock – @janetmock
A post shared by J A N E T M O C K (@janetmock) on Sep 7, 2019 at 8:41am PDT
Janet Mock is a transgender woman, activist, director, and writer. She has written and directed shows for Pose, The Politician, and Hollywood. Her two memoirs, Redefining Realness and Surpassing Certainty are New York Times Best Selling books. Mock is a trailblazer for women, Black women, and Black transgender women.
2. Kalen Allen – @thekalenallen
A post shared by Kalen Allen (@thekalenallen) on Jan 17, 2020 at 5:53pm PST
Before Kalen became a star on The Ellen Show, we fell in love with him on YouTube with his Kalen Reacts videos to the ridiculous shit (white) people throw together and call a recipe. Allen is an artist, performer, and hilariously beautiful soul.
3. Ericka Hart – @ihartericka
It’s not you, it’s the pants. It’s not you, it’s the pants. It’s not you, it’s the pants. It’s not you, it’s the pants. ⠀ I needed this reminder Sunday night when I tried on a pair of pants and they didn’t make it past my thighs. I ran to Eb for reassurance and he just looked at me! That’s it! Didn’t participate in my fatphobia party at all! Recently, I have received messages from folks saying it looks like I have lost weight. When the pants didn’t fit, I thought, was it not true what they saw? I just had to delete writing that what they were saying was a compliment. It’s not. It’s not a compliment to tell someone they look like they have lost weight (repeat 500 times). ⠀ Commenting on folks bodies regarding weight to suggest they somehow look better now that they have lost a few pounds only reinforces harmful messaging that fat is bad, wrong, ugly, unhealthy etc. I think it’s imperative to remember: ⠀ 1. Ridding yourself of fatphobic thoughts is an ongoing practice. There is no pot of gold for loving your body at the end of this work, just more to distinguish and resist participating in fatphobia ⠀ 2. STOP COMMENTING ON PEOPLE’S BODIES. ⠀ 3. It’s necessary that I thank the folks who have had me understand that I am whole, there is nothing to change or correct and fuck those pants! ⠀ @thefatsextherapist is absolutely one of those people. Sonalee is my teacher, colleague and my friend. They have made a profound difference in my life and so many others by making sure we care for ourselves minus shame, guilt and fatphobic warfare. Please join me tomorrow as I chat with Sonalee on Sex talks about everything under the sex sun, 7pm EST on IG LIVE. Got a question you’d like us to answer? Put it in the comments 👇🏾👇🏾👇🏾👇🏾 ⠀ #sexed #sextalks #jeansareantiblack
A post shared by Ericka Hart, M.Ed. She/They (@ihartericka) on May 26, 2020 at 8:09am PDT
Ericka Hart is a breast cancer survivor and shows off the scars of her mastectomy in gorgeous body positivity photos on her account. She is a sex educator and an advocate for racial, social, and gender justice. She uses she/they pronouns.
4. Gem Nwanne – @urdoinggreat
y'all mind if i wild out real quick . . the last 2 are a reminder that i am not now nor will i ever make content centering yt feelings. y'all can fuck with the vision or not i could not possibly care less. thanks to ur kin flooding my dms with Race 101 questions i *in my infinite kindness* put together a list of yt ppl to reach out to whenever u get the sudden urge to ask a qtpoc for their labor
A post shared by Gem (@urdoingreat) on Nov 19, 2019 at 12:30pm PST
Gem is a nonbinary, self-proclaimed unapologetic Black, queer, and leftist person. Their popularity grew with their use of TikTok to break down the struggles of the working class, being misgendered, and the racism in our country. They make it all very clear so folks have no excuses not to do better.
5. Kenny Ethan Jones – @kennyethanjones
Looking mighty smug for a good cause #Getlippy @eveappeal ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This May Eve appeal, a gynaecological cancer charity are raising funds to keep their vital nurse-led information service Ask Eve running for families who need it ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I’m supporting Get Lippy because as a trans man I know how hard it can be navigating the healthcare system, how dysphoric seeking help can make you and how I would ignore potential problems because my body parts didn’t match society view of what parts I “should” have ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Health is fundamental to our being, so let’s break down some taboos and make sure everyone knows the symptoms of the five gynae cancers ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Photography @hollymcglynnphotographer #internalperiods #transmen #gynae
A post shared by Kenny Ethan Jones (@kennyethanjones) on May 1, 2020 at 11:29am PDT
Kenny Ethan Jones is a transgender man, model, and activist who became the first trans man to front a period campaign. He was featured in Pink Parcel’s “I’m On” and has been outspoken about the way we need to change the conversation around menstruation. He paves the way for trans men, intersex, and nonbinary folks like me who menstruate but don’t identify as female. Tearing away the idea that only females menstruate reduces stigma and body dysphoria for trans folks.
6. Jessamyn Stanley – @mynameisjessamyn
My next free @theunderbellyyoga IG live yoga class is tomorrow at 3pm EST! Class will be live on @mynameisjessamyn & we’re taking donations for @nationalbailout’s #freeblackmamas campaign bc nothing says #mothersday like using your Saturday yoga class drop-in fee to help reunite families. Class will be about an hour long and you can use a beach towel as a yoga mat or wear your birthday suit instead of leggings. It’s all good because it’s all #yoga. See y’all tomorrow ✌🏿 ✌🏿 Never forget paint bukkake c/o @lisa_lisa_creative, shot by @justincookphoto #ubyoga #everybodyyoga
A post shared by Jessamyn (@mynameisjessamyn) on May 8, 2020 at 4:06pm PDT
Jessamyn Stanley describes herself as a fat Black femme. She is also a yoga teacher and is shredding the notion that you have to have a certain type of body to practice. Her account is a refreshing look at the way we move and feel comfortable in our own skin. She hosts a podcast, has a yoga app, and a book called Every Body Yoga.
7. Gabriella Grimes – @gggrimes
Feeling my power means loving myself and my body in the ways that heal me and make me feel whole. It's an amazing experience to rediscover my sexuality, watching it transform before my eyes into something that feels natural. Everyday I'm hypersexualized or desexualized by oppressive forces because of the intersection of my identities, but I'm thriving, growing, healing, and loving despite them. #FeelMyPower 💖 incredible wand designed by @hellomynameiswednesday for @lewandmassager
A post shared by ggggrimes 🐝🐝 They/Them (@ggggrimes) on Mar 8, 2020 at 7:54am PDT
Gabriella Grimes is a nonbinary gay visual artist who illustrates queer people of color. They show the beauty of relationships and loving and living in colorful and detailed images.
8. Roxane Gay – @roxanegay74
A post shared by Roxane Gay (@roxanegay74) on Jan 20, 2020 at 10:37am PST
If you want some no-nonsense feminist truth, Gay needs to be on your feed. She is a writer, New York Times columnist, and New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist and Hunger. Gay will make you question all of the things, and that’s a good thing.
9. Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman – @jeffreybchapman
A post shared by Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (@jeffreybchapman) on Dec 11, 2018 at 10:24am PST
Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman is a gay actor on Hulu’s show UnReal, hosts a podcast called Conversations With Others, and works with the Human Rights Campaign.
10. Billy Porter – @theebillyporter
One of the highlights of my life has been the opportunity to sing on the set of @sesamestreet with my new pal, Penelope the penguin. Together, we sang about the possibilities of new friendships with those who may not be exactly like us. I know people are all up in arms about me wearing the gorgeous custom @csiriano tuxedo dress that I wore at @theacademy awards in 2019 for the upcoming season. If you follow me, however, you know the impact it had. The emails, DMs, and messages of good will I received that day (and continue to receive) from parents and their children who have been bullied all over the world and desperately need to see someone like me, being their authentic selves on mainstream media, is far more important than anything #onemillionmoms could ever say. Friendship, kindness and inclusivity shall triumph. And often, it simply starts by saying hi. #sesamestreet #season51 🐧 🤵🏿@pbs . . Wearing custom @csiriano Styling by @sammyratelle
A post shared by Billy Porter (@theebillyporter) on Feb 27, 2020 at 6:12pm PST
Come for the fashion, stay for the representation of a gender nonconforming, queer, Black man. Billy Porter is an award winning actor, singer, director, and human. He got folks all worked up when he showed up on Sesame Street in a tuxedo dress. Gasp! How dare he show kids that a happy life is one lived with kindness while being true to yourself?
11. Jamila Reddy – @jamilareddy
So many new faces around here — it’s time for an intro! 👋🏾My name is Jamila (pronounced juh-mee-la). My pronouns are they and she, I really like hearing folks use them both. I’m a writer, self-empowerment coach, and life enthusiast on a mission to help people reach their highest potential and manifest their wildest dreams. I am proudly Black & Boriqua, queer, GNC (gender non-conforming) and polyamorous. I recently started a podcast called “Deliberate and Doing it Afraid,” where I talk about living intentionally, overcoming inner obstacles, and journeying towards a life of joy and alignment. My sister died from an overdose in August 2018 and my dad died from cancer 6 months later. 😶 It was… truly a fucking lot. These experiences with death and grief changed me forever. In honor of my sister and dad, I am committed to living the absolute BEST and fullest life I can possibly imagine. I want my life to be an example — a model — of overcoming obstacles and finding joy despite it all. I could talk for DAYS about healing, self-reflection, claiming your power and purpose, manifestation, personal transformation, honoring your truth and feeling your feelings! Things I don’t talk about much but am VERY interested in: Kink/BDSM, gender fluidity, romantic friendships and platonic partnerships, cannabis, psychedelics, parenting as a non-biological parent, homesteading, interior design, and festival culture (especially for POC). Drop me a line and introduce yourself! What’s one thing you’re interested in that most folks don’t know about you? 👇🏾 Thanks for being here. I love you, for real.
A post shared by Jamila Reddy (@jamilareddy) on May 19, 2020 at 3:59pm PDT
Jamila Reddy is a Buddhist writer and life coach who helps people live intentionally. They offer powerful messages about life, learning, and vulnerability. We can all use this.
12. Shaun T – @shaunt
A post shared by Shaun T (@shaunt) on May 1, 2020 at 2:32pm PDT
Shaun T is known for his fitness videos and shredded body, but he is also an out and proud man raising twins with his husband. He is a sexual abuse survivor and talks about the balance between loving ourselves and each other. He is also an advocate for donuts.
13. Marquise Vilsón Balenciaga – @marquisevilson
A post shared by Marquise Vilsón Balenciaga (@marquisevilson) on Mar 11, 2020 at 4:00pm PDT
Marquise Vilsón Balenciaga is a transgender actor and activist who brings awareness and demands change to violence against transgender people and people of color.
14. Ashlee Marie Preston – @ashleemariepreston
Outer beauty attracts; but inner beauty captivates…🐚💧 . . . . . . . #nofilter #nomakeup #natural #beauty #bare #bareface #authentic #skin #hair #queen #blackwomen #trans #transgender #black trans women #queer #power #resilience #strength #warrior #thriveover35 #fighter
A post shared by Ashlee Marie Preston (@ashleemariepreston) on May 6, 2020 at 6:39pm PDT
Ashlee Marie Preston is a journalist and activist and became the first transgender woman to be editor-in-chief of a national publication. She was a campaign surrogate for Elizabeth Warren. She started the organization #YouAreEssential with Revolve Impact to raise money for people and communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
15. Devin-Norelle – @steroidbeyonce
"I’ve never truly allowed myself a chance to dabble in makeup until I started working at Teen Vogue. I was seated next to the Allure team and both brands were steamrolled with makeup daily. Makeup has been crucial in exploring my masculinity. I love matching a good glitter beard with my favorite suits. Something subtle, like a cute eye shadow, goes a long way. I look forward to photoshoots because I can explore more playful looks than I’m not capable of creating myself. Through makeup, possibilities are boundless." . . . Interview via @milk Makeup @shidehkafei. 📸 @sorayatzaman. Interview link in profile!
A post shared by Devin-Norelle not Devin (@steroidbeyonce) on Nov 19, 2019 at 2:56pm PST
Devin-Norelle is a writer and model and a transgender advocate. Zis work and mission is to show transgender people and our gender expression as a spectrum and not a monolith. Ze was the first masculine model to walk for Chromat at New York Fashion Week in 2019.
The intersection of queerness and Blackness is magic, and we should view it in awe and not fear or anger. Racism within the queer community needs to end. Homo- and transphobia within all communities needs to end. The Black Lives Matter movement needs to include LGBTQIA+ Black folks too. It’s heavy and exhausting work to be part of a marginalized group, especially when we are asked to educate and hand-hold folks on their journey to understanding. Up your ally game and go and follow these accounts before asking a queer person of color to do the emotional labor for you. Google and the library are free too.