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10 Black LGBT+ Role Models

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” - James Baldwin

The importance of role models is undeniable. When we see ourselves reflected throughout wider society it gives us the power to achieve more, that our differences are seen and celebrated and for us all to continue to work to be better. 

With all that’s happening in the world and especially in the United States at this time, Black LGBT+ role models have never been as important as they are now. Let’s celebrate them, hear them and let them set us the example.

Here is our list of 10 Black LGBT+ Role Models.

Lady Phyll

Phyllis Opoku-Gyimahwidely known as Lady Phyll, is the executive director and co-founder of UK Black Pride - Europe's largest celebration for LGBTQ+ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Latin American and Middle Eastern descent. Lady Phyll has over 20 years’ experience as an LGBTQ+ rights activist and anti-racism campaigner. She has spent a decade advocating for the rights of workers within the largest civil service union as a lead negotiator on behalf of Civil Service workers and is now the Executive Director of Kaleidoscope Trust an LGBT+ charity that works to defend and uphold human rights.

Billy Porter

Tony, Emmy and Grammy-award winning star Billy Porter has never been afraid of being different or of speaking his mind. With his unique fashion statements he challenges the ideas of gender, sexuality and race, being a constant activist in everything he does. In his own words: “There’s a conscious choice for everything that I do. Just so we’re clear: Everything you see and everything I’m doing is intentional. Always, forever. So, yes … my goal is to be a walking piece of activism every time I show up on a red carpet.”

Laverne Cox

Actress and LGBT+ activist Laverne Cox has made history countless times. She is the first trans person to be nominated for an acting category at the Emmys and she was the first trans person to make the cover of ‘Time’ magazine, making headlines all around the world. Cox has used her voice countless times to educate, stating “I felt a huge responsibility and burden of representing my community. And I still feel that burden, but the difference is that there’s more of us now with a platform, and so I feel like the burden isn’t just on me and a few other people. I feel compelled because there’s so much injustice. I feel compelled to try and educate as much as possible.”

Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X made history when he came out by being the first-ever singer to come out whilst having a No. 1 song on billboards. He then made history again by becoming the first openly gay rapper to be nominated in the top categories at award ceremonies. He continuously challenges the idea that queer rappers cannot experience mainstream success, providing a beacon of light for closeted teenagers seeking larger acceptance. 


RuPaul Andre Charles, known as RuPaul, is an Emmy Award winning actor, singer, model, and TV personality. Its has been argued that “no one has stomped the runway harder or influenced and empowered both the LGBTQ and black communities more than drag queen superstar RuPaul Andre Charles,” and through his fame he reached an audience that are looking for role models. He is one of the most successful black entertainers who is notably recognized as a 6 feet 4 inch blonde drag queen.

Rev. Jide Macaulay

The founder and CEO of House of Rainbow, a “welcoming ministry for leasbians, gays, bisesuals, transgender, intersex and queer people,” Rev. Jide Macaulay has won several awards including the 2003 and 2007 Black LGBT Community Award for “Man of the Year” for his work helping people of faith. He is an LGBT+, human rights and HIV/AIDS activist who was shortlisted for the National Diversity Award in 2014 for being a positive role model in the category of Race, Faith and Religion, and won the nOSCARS MSM HIV Award in 2014, and the Open and Affirming (ONA) Courage Award and the United Church of Christ (UCC) Recognition Award, both in 2017.

Bisi Alimi

Bisi Alimi is a gay rights activist and founder and director of the Bisi Alimi Foundation, which advocates for sexual and gender minorities in Nigeria. He gained international attention when he became the first Nigerian to come out on television. He consults for the World Bank on the economic impact of homophobia and serves on its Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity task force. He was listed as the 19th most important LGBT person in the United Kingdom in 2015 and No. 77 on the 2014 World Pride Power List. His TEDx talk, “There should never be another Ibrahim,” is considered one of the 14 most inspiring queer TED talks of all time.

Wanda Sykes

Actor and comedian Wanda Sykes is known for her stand-up comedy. She came out as a lesbian in 2008 and has been an active LGBT+ activist ever since. She appeared in GLSEN’s “Think Before You Speak” campaign against homophobic language, and was awarded the GLAAD Stephen F. Kolzak Award and the Activism in the Arts honor at the Triumph Awards. In 2009, Sykes became the first African American woman, and the first LGBTQ+ individual, to be the featured entertainer for the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.

Dr Ronx

Dr. Ronx is an emergency medical doctor and a queer, black, androgynous intersectional feminist, as they describe themself. Their motto is “ You cannot be, what you do not see”. An active role model to many, Dr. Ronx give inspirational talks using their life experiences to encourage and inspire young people to be the change they want to see in the world. 

Ricki Beadle-Blair

Actor, writer and activist Ricki Beadle-Blair was raised in South London by his lesbian mother. In 2001, he hosted the “Big Up Yourself And Be Proud” show at The Brixtonian during the Mardi Gras Festival, in support of Gay Men Fight AIDS, a London-based gay men’s health charity whose Big Up initiative targets Black men. He is a mentor to many writers, actors, composers and directors around the world. Rikki was ranked fourth on the 2015 Rainbow List of the 101 most influential lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in the UK.

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