Ah, Instagram. Can’t live with it, can’t live without it. As someone who’s perpetually on the verge of deleting Instagram and throwing my phone away, I must admit that the app does have some upsides. Namely, all the amazing Black LGBTQ+ folks who share their work on the platform. There are so many! They’re all doing such great things! And while Instagram itself isn’t always that welcoming to Black queer creatives, many of them find ways to persist and continue using the app to teach, connect, and build community.
We’ve gathered a list of 21 of the absolute coolest Black lesbians, queer women, trans folks, and non-binary folks to follow on Instagram. According to mental health experts, one of the best ways to build a healthier relationship with social media is to curate your timeline more carefully. Unfollow the accounts that cause you negative emotions like anger, jealousy, or boredom and instead follow accounts that make you feel connected, inspired, and calm. These 21 Black queer/trans/non-binary accounts are sure to do just that.
1. Ericka Hart – @ihartericka
Ericka Hart is famous for her modeling and advocacy work as a breast cancer survivor. She often shows off her mastectomy scars and patiently educates folks about the realities of breast cancer treatment. But this Black femme’s work goes much deeper than that, including tons of queer-oriented sex education and racial justice work. Follow @ihartericka for knowledge shares around race, gender, sex, and illness… Plus a ton of beautiful #blackqueerlove and gorgeous photoshoots.
2. Jamila Reddy – @jamilareddy
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Jamila Reddy is a Black queer Buddhist writer and life coach. She’s the person to follow for tender motivational posts about how to build the life of your dreams while also being gentle and patient with yourself, because let’s be real, life is messy and not everything is within your control. Through Reddy’s own vulnerability about her challenges and triumphs, you’re sure to gain new insight on your journey of healing.
As Reddy wrote in a recent post: “I grew [my Instagram page] organically to over TEN THOUSAND HUMANS not because of cute outfits and branded content, but because I show up as the complex (and not always put-together) being that I am. I be wearing the same outfit three days in a row and I still share powerful messages that change people’s lives.”
3. Jazzmyne Jay – @jazzmynejay
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Jazzmyne Jay was featured in GO Mag’s December print issue for a reason — well, for like 20 reasons, actually. She’s a producer, activist, and model whose Instagram is a delightful wonderland of colorful queer Black aesthetics. The outfits! The makeup! The hair! The LOOKS. Do yourself a favor and read her whole interview with GO, then come back here and follow her on Instagram. She’s your go-to girl for fashion inspo, self-love inspo, and the occasional adorable couple photo.
4. Fatima Jamal – @fatfemme
Fatima Jamal has some impressive credentials under her belt — she’s a shining star of the New York City ballroom scene, kills it as a model for brands like Sephora, and worked on “Pose” on FX. Jamal is also a talented writer, producer, and director who released a documentary in 2018 called “No Fats, No Femmes” (after a popular phrase used by femmephobic and fatphobic LGBTQ+ folks). The film isn’t your average documentary; it’s strikingly personal, as it follows Jamal herself living her everyday life as a Black trans woman. Follow her IG for more of this vulnerability and beauty; her page is both insightful and aspirational (because wow, she’s doing the damn thing).
5. Jessamyn Stanley – @mynameisjessamyn
Yoga Instagram is an incredibly homogeneous (see: white, thin, wealthy) place, to say the least, which is why Jessamyn Stanley has BLOWN UP over the past few years. Stanley is, in her words, a fat Black femme. As a yoga teacher who leads classes all over the world, Stanley fills her Instagram with photos and videos of her doing complex yoga poses and generally living her best life, along with words of advice for those whose yoga practice must coexist with a difficult relationship with their bodies. Stanley’s approach to yoga is so popular that, in the years since she first started her IG in 2012, she’s landed a book deal (“Every Body Yoga”), a podcast, a yoga app, a Web series, and an Adidas collaboration.
6. Devri Velazquez – @devrivelazquez
Devri Velazquez is a queer Afro-Latina writer, editor, speaker, and model who is living with a chronic illness. Velazquez was diagnosed with a rare form of vasculitis called Takayasu’s Arteritis in 2011, and doctors told her she might not live to see 30. Well, Velazquez turned 30 in 2019, and she’s still conquering her illness day by day. Having stood face-to-face with death, she has a deep well of self-knowledge and determination. Her Instagram is full of beautiful photos, snippets of creative writing, and knowledge shares around chronic illness, including the struggles of navigating the U.S. health care system as a queer woman of color — a system that she says “does everything in its power to deter you from making rational decisions about your health and livelihood.”
7. Akwaeke Emezi – @azemezi
Akwaeke Emezi is a writer who exploded onto the literary scene with their 2018 fiction debut “Freshwater.” It was such a massive success that one could not go into any queer and/or Black space that year without someone gushing over it (and it’s being adapted for TV!). “Freshwater” is deeply rooted in Igbo Nigerian spirituality, but it’s also relevant to themes of dysphoria, mental health, and gender identity. It was inspired by Emezi’s own life as a self-described “visual log of inhuman flesh” and queer trans Nigerian. On Emezi’s Instagram, you’ll find them posing for their talented photographer sister Yagazie Emezi, promoting their latest book, and opening up about everything from top surgery to their new house.
8. Devin-Norelle – @steroidbeyonce
Devin-Norelle’s writing and modeling have been featured in Out, them., Refinery29, Paper Mag, BuzzFeed, Allure, Teen Vogue — literally everywhere. Devin-Norelle is a fierce trans advocate; among zis many other accomplishments, ze became the first masc model to walk for Chromat at New York Fashion Week in 2019. In zis advocacy work, ze draws attention to a plethora of issues, like the fact that masculinity is a spectrum and trans folks are not a monolith. “Trans people come from all walks of life,” Devin-Norelle wrote for Teen Vogue in 2018. “Our gender presentations vary, our identities are fluid, our expressions are unique, but we are all beautiful. Our beauty deserves to be visible.”
9. Adrienne Maree Brown – @adriennemareebrown
There are plenty of writers tackling issues of race and sexuality and gender, but none are doing it quite like Adrienne Maree Brown. A queer author, podcast host, and facilitator, Brown is most well-known for her books “Pleasure Activism” and “Emergent Strategy” and her podcast “How to Survive the End of the World” (co-hosted with her sister Autumn). Brown’s offerings tackle those issues in a refreshing light. She encourages you to imagine a better future by digging deep into your own innate capacity for creativity, problem-solving, and cooperation; your sense of mystery; and your connection to the Earth and all of its beings. In an era when climate change, racism, and homophobia can make it difficult for queer Black folks to envision the future at all, Brown’s medicine is sorely needed, and her Instagram is the perfect place to start getting to know her.
10. Denisio Truitt – @denisiotruitt
Denisio Truitt is an artist, designer, and one-half of the blogging queer African duo Noirlinians. Under her brand Dopeciety, Truitt releases shirts with her gorgeous paintings and design work, plus one-of-a-kind cowl neck hoodies, jumpsuits, hand-dyed two-pieces, and more. But perhaps the best place to get a sense of Truitt’s unique sense of design is through her Instagram, where followers bear witness to her personal fashion experimentation, behind-the-scenes glimpses at her custom designs for clients, and her ever-changing hair. If only we could all finesse a perfect outfit out of scraps like Truitt can.
11. Mia Marion – @wipmia
Looking for a literary addition to your timeline? Mia Marion is a poet and artist, and she uses her Instagram to share poetry (both her own and others’) and shout out the books she’s reading. Her Instagram is also full of body-positive shots of her posing in her undies/a cute outfit/totally naked, documenting her journey with self-acceptance. In between it all, she often shares a “word of the day” in the caption of her photos, where you’ll learn interesting new bits of vocabulary such as “penetralia (n.), the innermost or hidden parts; a secret place” and “sybarite (n.)… a person devoted to sensuous luxury and pleasure; a voluptuary.” You may recognize Marion as YouTuber Ari Fitz’s girlfriend — and like Fitz, Marion recently ventured into YouTube with videos about books and self-love.
12. Shanee Benjamin – @shaneebenjamin
If you want your IG timeline to feel like a dope Black queer femme art museum, follow Shanee Benjamin immediately. Benjamin is an art director, designer, and illustrator based in Brooklyn. Every piece of art that she graciously shares with her followers is Black femme perfection. She features couples, solo women, families, friends — basically every configuration of Black femme life you can imagine (including nail art and lots of plants). Benjamin also illustrates famous Black femmes like Janelle Monáe, Lena Waithe, and Beyoncé. You’ll never have to search for a new phone background again, and your day will become a little bit brighter every time you scroll.
13. Alli Simon – @omgirlalli
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Here I am…just three days into the new year, feeling super blessed. A few months ago, the good people of @athleta reached out to document my life to share it in their January “Work It Out on the Mat” catalogue + video doc on their website. This couldn’t have come at a better time since January is such a special month for me. This launch comes 7 days before what would have been my sisters 41st birthday. It’s special for so many reasons, but mostly serves as a reminder that she still lives in me. I’m so thrilled (while truthfully suffering from a little vulnerability hangover) that so many people for the first time will get a glimpse of “why” I have committed myself to this work + what community truly means to me. Not only that, but I got to bring some of my personal friends along (@yelhsalleb @thickgirlyogala @lotusinaseaoffire @sofiarosesmith) to share their magic in the print shot by @marcus.chi – And my larger community of folx throughout the video. Sending so much gratitude to the Athleta team for inviting me on this journey + being so supportive + intentional about sharing it. Check out the 🔗in my bio to see the article written by @aprattmayer + the video shot by @tobinsanson. They spent three days following my world + I feel so honored to be the subject of their beautiful creative work. As I mentioned just two days ago “be you + the world will adjust” — don’t let anything stop you from healing. 💗✨🙏🏽 . . . #HOME #athleta #mindfulness #yogainspiration #newyear #powerofshe
Alli Simon is a Black queer femme and certified yoga and meditation teacher. As one of very few Black queer femmes in the meditation world, Simon creates fun guided meditations, leads classes and workshops in L.A., and works at South L.A. Wellness to bring mindfulness to folks in South Central L.A. Accordingly, her Instagram is full of mini mindfulness moments. She explores the challenge of trying to be mindful in the social media era, reminds followers to be grateful for the present moment, and reflects on self-love and gentleness, among other topics. We could all use a little ~centering~, and as Simon wrote in Yoga International, “Serenity is contagious.”
14. Sasha – @earthwindandflowers_
More than anything else, vulnerability is what separates a top-notch Instagram from the rest, and Sasha brings vulnerability to her Instagram in spades. From intimate videos of her dancing and playing with light to relatable snippets of her cozy life with her partner, Sasha’s page feels real above all else. She has a unique appreciation for those lovely little everyday moments that often go unnoticed, especially in the uber-curated world of social media. Selfies, napping on her partner’s butt, honest mental health talk… This is real life and it’s beautiful. Sasha and her partner Tracee also organize camping and polyamory events for queer Black and brown folks in L.A.
15. Tangina Stone – @stoneblu
Tangina Stone is a talented singer and producer with a growing fan base all over the world. A queer Black woman who’s signed to an “all-womxn indie label,” she’s passionate about making a positive difference in the music industry. “[I want to] strengthen the connections that I have with womxn creatives in my field and contribute to my industry in a way that makes it better for all of us — and release my best work yet,” she told Teen Vogue. Her music is magical, ethereal, alternative R&B. Follow her IG to stay up to date on new music and shows, plus peeks into her personal life (ahem, cute lesbian love story alert).
16. Gabriella Grimes – @gggrimes
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It’s me, Gabby. Back at it again with a self portrait. Heavily inspired by one of my fav artists, @thelisabelle’s selftember prompts. I don’t have time to follow the challenge but I thought I could at least do a self portrait. I’ve never made any of my self portraits available for purchase until now, but this one is up in my store! 🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱 If you’d like to support me, please like and share my work in your stories! (For feed reposts please read my guidelines!) My store is available via the link in my bio. You can also donate to @ggggrimes on Venmo or cashapp. Thank you all for your support!! 🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱 #art #artwork #illustration #drawing #painting #digitalart #digitalartwork #digitalillustration #medibang #medibangpaint #medibangpaintpro #wacom #drawingtablet #blackartist #queerartist #nycart #nycartist #artistsoninstagram #selftember2019 🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱🌱
The second amazing visual artist on this list, Gabriella Grimes, is a Black queer illustrator who creates colorful, detailed depictions of the wide spectrum of QTPOC life — queers at home, queers in love, queers in nature, queers everywhere. All of it will remind you just how beautiful and raw and messy your people are. Grimes explained their decision to focus on QTPOC art to Vice in 2019: “I try to show that queer POC can be happy, weird, expressive, emotional, and multi-dimensional… life can be wonderful, our relationships can be healthy, and we can see ourselves as beautiful.”
17. Blair Imani – @blairimani
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Tomorrow I’ll be turning 26! If you want to celebrate with me, you can do so by preordering a copy of my book for someone you love. Order #MakingOurWayHome and give yourself the gift of history! Link in bio ✨ Many thanks to @kaelanbarowsky for these exemplary photos, to @indoorcatgirl for these most vibrant illustrations and to @osopepatrisse for the moving forward you provided to the text! Couldn’t have happened without @tenspeedpress‘s very own @kmketchum! 🙏🏼 Scroll through to see how I transformed into the 1940’s version of myself!
Blair Imani uses her work as an author, historian, and public speaker to draw attention to the stigma that she faces as a Black bisexual Muslim. After famously coming out as queer on an episode of Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News a few years ago, Imani became an icon for Black queer Muslims in the U.S. She has given speeches for TEDx and GLAAD, and she’s also written multiple history books, including “Modern HERstory,” which inserts women and non-binary folks into the narrative of social justice. Imani recently pivoted to become a full-time historian after focusing on activist work for years. Her second book, “Making Our Way Home,” just came out on January 14th.
18. Allison Graham – @shedoeshim
Allison Graham is a Jamaican-born lesbian who is a master of masculine fashion. As she wrote in a recent post, “There’s an art to being feminine and masculine at the same time” — and Graham has gotten it down to perfection. Her Instagram is an extension of her fashion blog, She Does Him, where she showcases how she does menswear as a masc lesbian. Whether you’re a stud who needs inspo, or a femme who just wants to admire pretty things, you’re sure to learn a lot from perusing Graham’s feed and blog.
19. Danielle Cooper – @danielle.a.cooper
Speaking of masc fashion, Danielle Cooper is the founder of She’s A Gent, another amazing fashion blog that focuses on queer Black masculine fashion. From sporty streetwear to dapper suits, Cooper’s style is unmistakably on-point. Who else can effortlessly pull off an ankle-length red cashmere coat with pink trousers?! As a bonus, she also blogs about her travels all around the world.
20. Ashley C. Ford – @smashfizzle
Ashley C. Ford is a writer and the host of BuzzFeed’s interview series, PROFILE. She’s the mastermind behind so much great writing and interviewing, including Allure’s recent cover story on Billy Porter — he was the first male-identified person to ever grace their cover. Ford’s work is smart and vulnerable and fun to read, and she deals with themes of body image, queer identity, Black Girl Magic, and more. Her lively Instagram is PROOF that not all writers are awkward anti-social shut-ins, because Ford is super cute and lives a super cute colorful life.
Who are your favorite Black queer/trans/NB Instagram accounts?
Updated: This story was updated on July 1, 2020 to remove an account that no longer exists.