More and more famous lesbians and bisexual women are coming out of the closet. Coming out as lesbian or bisexual for celebrities is not the career suicide it once was. Within the African American community, the era known as The Harlem Renaissance
was also a time where many gay and lesbian performers felt free to be out of the closet. Here is a list of some famous African American lesbians and bisexual women.
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Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker admits to being bisexual and having a relationship with lesbian song writer Tracy Chapman in the 1990s. She is also the mother of another famous bisexual writer Rebecca Walker.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division
Audre Lorde was a Black Feminist Lesbian Poet who published 20 books of poetry and prose. She was an inspiration to many lesbians and is widely quoted. She died of cancer in 1992.
Photograph by Tom O'Halloran, 1976 April 7, Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Barbara Jordan was a true trailblazer. She broke many barriers for women in politics. It was only after her death in 1996 that her sexual orientation was revealed to the public.
Carl Van Vechten
Bessie Smith (1894-1937) was one of the most successful Black artists of her era. Bessie Smith performed for many private parties, at speakeasies and "rent parties." She loved to tour and bought her own railroad car so she and her performers could travel in comfort from town to town, avoiding the Jim Crow
laws of the time.
Courtesy of C.C. Carter
C.C. Carter is an American poet and spoken-word artist who has performed everywhere from cruise ships to colleges and universities including opening for famous poets like Nikki Giovanni.
Doria Roberts rise to fame began when she was selected to take part in Lilith Faire in 1999. Unfortunately, it was a time when the music industry was pretty homophobic and Doria had to choose between being an out and major record deals.
Although Gladys Bentley was out early in her life, this famous Blues singer later recanted her homosexuality and attempted to live a straight life.
photograph by Marty Umans © 2006
Jacqueline Woodson is the author of fiction for young adults. In her books she often deals with issues of race and sexuality.
She's a stand-up comedian, a business owner, a trainer and a healer. Karen Williams is also one sexy woman, dishing out advice about how to keep love alive via laughter
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Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) is best known as being the playwrite of A Raisin in the Sun
, one of the most popular Broadway plays of the 1950s. Although she kept her sexual orientation a secret during her lifetime, she did write for the lesbian publication The Ladder
using only her initials to identify herself.