20 Queer Black Women You Need To Know

From singers, to authors, to historical figures, to activists, these 20 extraordinary Black women deserve to be celebrated everyday.

Happy Black History Month! Here are 20 lesbian, queer, bi, and trans Black women who have changed, are changing, and will continue to change the world. From singers, to authors, to historical figures, to activists, these 20 extraordinary Black women deserve to be celebrated everyday.


Hailing from LA, Syd is an American musician and singer that initially rose to fame as a member of the hip hop collective, Odd Future, and then founded her own band, The Internet, in 2011. Syd released her first solo album in 2017, and released her second, Broken Hearts Club, last year.

Kiersey Clemons

Kiersey Nicole Clemons an actress whose breakout role occurred in the 2015 film Dope. She went on to take Hollywood by storm, starring in countless movies and shows, including one of our favorite feel-good queer films “Hearts Beat Loud.

Samantha Irby

Author and quite possibly the funniest person alive, Samantha Irby has written 5 hilarious books, has been a writer and/pr co-producer for HBO’s reboot of Sex and the City, Work in Progress, Shrill, and Tuca & Bertie, and was the recipient of the 2021 Lambda Literary Award for bisexual nonfiction.

Willow Smith

Willow is the daughter of actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, but she has achieved icon status in her own right. Just to mention a few: she has won a Young Artist Award, an NAACP Image Award, a BET Award, and nominations for two Daytime Emmy Awards and a MTV Video Music Award. You might remember her song “Whip My Hair” from 2010, and since then she has gone on to make transcendent music. Her 2015 album Ardipithecus’s song “Wait a Minute!” was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. In 2021, she earned a top 40 entry on the Billboard Hot 100 with the single “Meet Me at Our Spot.”

Sasha Lane

Sasha Lane is an actress from Texas who made her film debut in 2016 in American Honey. In 2018, Lane starred in Hearts Beat Loud, opposite another queer actress Kiersey Clemons. She also starred queer film favorite The Miseducation of Cameron Post directed by Desiree Akhavan.

Amandla Stenberg

Amandla Stenberg is an LA actress who shot her first feature, Colombiana, in 2011. After, Lionsgate announced that Amandla had landed the role of Rue in the screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ cult hit The Hunger Games. She earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her role in The Hunger Games. She’s gone on to grace the big screen many times, and most recently set the lesbian internet ablaze with her role in the queer werewolf thriller “My Animal.”

Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monáe is everything: the singer-songwriter, actor, fashion icon, futurist, and worldwide superstar is now about to release a collection of short fiction in their book called “The Memory Library.” The book will bring “to the written page the rebellious and Afrofuturistic world of Monáe’s critically acclaimed album Dirty Computer.”

Alice Walker

Alice Walker is an American novelist, short story writer, poet, and social activist. She was the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her book The Color Purple in 1982. Walker is a prolific writer and have published seventeen novels and short story collections, twelve non-fiction works, and collections of essays and poetry.

Angela Davis

Angela Davis is a political advocate, scholar, philsopher, professor, and author. She teaches at the University of California and has written over ten books on class, gender, race, and the U.S. prison system.

Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde was an American writer, womanist, radical feminist, professor, and civil rights activist. She is well-known for describing herself as “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” Her masterful and widely celebrated poems largely discuss feminism, queerness, Blackness, and disability.

Bessie Smith

Hailing from Tennessee, Bessie Smith was a Jazz Age blues singer who was appropriately nicknamed the “Empress of the Blues.” In 1989, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. Smith began performing on street corners after her parents passed away when she was young. She was signed to Columbia Records in 1923 and tragically passed away in a car crash at the age of 43.

E. Denise Simmons

E. Denise Simmons became the first openly lesbian African American mayor in the United States when she served the 2008-2009 term as mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Janet Mock

Janet Mock is an author, producer, and director. Her two memoirs Redefining Realness and Surpassing Certainty were New York Times bestsellers. She worked on the Emmy award-winning and crowd-favorite series “Pose.” She has also worked on Netflix’s limited series “Hollywood,” and “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.”

Jasika Nicole

Photo by Claire J. Savage

Jasika Nicole landed her first gig in the tv industry in 2005 on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Since then, she has played Astrid Farnsworth on “Fringe,” Dr. Carly Lever on “The Good Doctor,” and Georgia in the series “Underground.” She also spoke with GO in 2021 about her role in the reboot of “Punky Brewster,” the enduring power of nostalgia, her quest for sustainable fashion, and her vision for a TV and film industry that subverts the power structures of Hollywood.

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker was a bisexual icon: a dancer and actress famous for her campy skirt made of bananas. She was the first African-American person to star in a major motion picture. She left America to live in France during WWII and spied and smuggled messaged for the Resistance. When she returned to the US, she was not see as the hero she was viewed as in France. She had also been away from the segregation happening in the states, and after being refused service by 36 hotels in New York City on a 1948 trip, she was inspired to travel the American South using a different name to see what Black Americans experienced daily. She used to her fame to draw attention to racism and discrimination, and was so outspoken that the FBI kept a file on her. She also used her fame to negotiate with venues to integrate their audiences. In 2021, the late icon became the first Black woman and the first American to be inducted into the Pantheon, a national mausoleum that is the final resting place for numerous French heroes and dignitaries.

Laverne Cox

Photo by Shutterstock

Laverne Cox is an activist and actress, most known for her role as Sophia Burset on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. She became the first transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in an acting category. In 2015, she became the first trans woman to win a Daytime Emmy Award in Outstanding Special Class Special for her work as executive producer for Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word.

Sheryl Swoopes

Photo by airswoopes22

Sheryl Denise Swoopes was the first player to be signed in the WNBA. She is a three-time WNBA MVP, and was named one of the league’s Top 15 Players of All Time at the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game. She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2917.

Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman is an American singer-songwriter from Ohio best known for unofficial queer anthems “Fast Car” and “Give Me One Reason.” She was signed to Elektra Records in 1987, and one year later, released her debut album, titled Tracy Chapman. The album received six Grammy Award nominations, including one for Album of the Year. She won three of those nominations: Best New Artist, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for her single “Fast Car”, and Best Contemporary Folk Album.

Wanda Sykes

Wanda Yvette Sykes is a comedian, actress, and writer. She won a Primetime Emmy Award in 1999 for her work as a writer on The Chris Rock Show. In 2004, Entertainment Weekly named Sykes as one of the 25 funniest people in America.

Roxane Gay

Photo by @roxanegay74

Roxane Gay is a renowned writer, professor, editor, and social commentator. She is the New York Times Bestselling author of The Bad Feminist and other books. A queer icon in her own right, she has appeared on “The L Word: Generation Q” and was a member of The Lesbian Bar Project’s virtual roundtable discussion to talk about the importance of queer spaces and bring greater awareness the remaining lesbian bars across the country.

What Do You Think?