Breaking Down Barriers: Famous and Prominent Queer Black Women

- By

Gladys Bentley

She was out earlier in her life and then, decided to be straight. She moved to Harlem in 1920s, which was a safe space for gays and lesbians to live in at the time. Nevertheless, this performer wore her trademark tuxedo and top hat. She was open about her sexual orientation and was a proud butch lesbian. Also, she flirted with female audience members. But in the 1950s, it wasn’t safe to be out anymore. Therefore, she told  Ebony Magazine that she took female hormones and married a man, and was a straight woman again (to save her career). Yeah OK. Gay Historian Eric Garber didn’t buy it. Her “husband” denied the marriage and the medicine just seemed ridiculous. It was just hard to be black, gay and a woman at the time.


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