18 Black LGBTQ creators on the rise

Though Black History Month ended last week, it is important that the voices and stories of Black LGBTQ people are heard year-round. Here are just a few Black LGBTQ creatives whose work we love - from Oscar nominated directors to stand-up comedians to comic book writers to actors and more - who are making waves in the entertainment world and sharing their unique voices and stories. Let us know who you love and want to see more of!

Directors

Yance Ford

Yance Ford made history as the first out trans director nominated for an Academy Award when his Netflix documentary Strong Island was nominated for the Oscar in Best Documentary Feature this year. The documentary centers on the 1992 murder of Ford’s brother William, a 24-year-old school teacher in New York, and Ford's own 10-year investigation into trying to find justice for his family. The all-white jury refused to indict the white mechanic that shot Ford's brother after the man claimed he acted in self-defense. Strong Island’s depiction of racial injustice and bias in the criminal system has been critically lauded, and positions Ford as one of the major new voices in documentary filmmaking. Strong Island is streaming now on Netflix.

Dee Rees

Director of GLAAD Media Award-recipients Pariah and Bessie, two films centering queer black woman, Dee Rees has become a force in filmmaking. She co-wrote and directed Mudbound, the critically acclaimed 2017 film addressing racism in post-WWII Mississippi, which earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. She made history as the first Black woman to be nominated in the category. She is also attached to direct two upcoming films; an adaptation of Joan Didion’s novel The Last Thing He Wanted and feminist drama An Uncivil War.

Angela Robinson

The lesbian writer-director Angela Robinson’s work focuses primarily on the stories of queer women. After her breakout in 2005 with cult hit spy comedy D.E.B.S, Robinson has gone on to work on television shows such as The L Word and True Blood. Her most recent film, GLAAD Media Award nominated Professor Marston and The Wonder Women, tells the story of the polyamorous relationship between the creator of Wonder Woman, his wife Elizabeth, and their girlfriend Olive; showing the romance on all sides, as well as their life as a family unit in the 1940s as they raised their four children.

Writers

Travon Free

Former college basketball player Travon Free is now flourishing as a comedy writer. In 2012, shortly after he came out as bisexual, Free was hired as writer on The Daily Show, which eventually earned him a Primetime Emmy. He currently writes on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. His newest project, Him or Her, co-executive produced by Free and Insecure's Issa Rae, follows the dating life of a bisexual Black man, and has been picked up by HBO.

Tarell Alvin McCraney

Academy Award-winning writer of In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, the story which inspired Moonlight, out writer Tarell Alvin McCraney currently has projects in the works for theater, film, and television. His 2013 play Choir Boy is heading to Broadway for the 2018-19 season, he is co-writing Disney’s live-action musical Cyrano the Moor, and created, wrote and will executive produce a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama for OWN that follows a young Black teen growing up in South Florida.

Lena Waithe

Coming off a historical Emmy win last year for writing Master of None’s GLAAD Media Award-nominated episode “Thanksgiving,” Lena Waithe is currently heading up Showtime’s The Chi which she created and executive produces. TBS recently picked up her pilot Twenties, a script Waithe wrote which follows a queer black woman and her two best friends. She said of the project, "queer black characters have been the sidekick for long enough; it’s time for us to finally take the lead.” Waithe will appear in the upcoming film Ready Player One, and her production company just signed a new deal with Sight Unseen Pictures to develop and produce projects highlighting underrepresented voices in Hollywood.

Actors

Keiynan Lonsdale

Best known for his role as Wally West/Kid Flash on The CW’s The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow, Keiynan Londsdale came out as bisexual in 2017. In addition to acting, Lonsdale also got his start as a dancer on Australia’s Dance Academy, and he releases covers and original songs as a musician. Most recently, Londsdale can be seen in the upcoming gay teen romcom and coming-of-age movie Love, Simon which hits theaters next Friday, March 16.

Brian Michael

Actor Brian Michael, who has appeared on various television shows such as Person of Interest, Red Oaks, and Homeland, made headlines last year when he played a trans character on OWN’s Queen Sugar, and used this as an opportunity to come out as trans himself. There was a fear that playing trans characters and being more visible would limit the kinds of roles I can do but, since this experience…I feel like the door is open wider,” Michael told GLAAD in an interview last summer.

Angelica Ross

An actress, model, and founder and CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises, Angelica Ross is known for both her on screen presence and activism. One of her biggest roles was in the web series Her Story which received Special Recognition at the GLAAD Media Awards. She has had guest roles on Transparent as well as being a voice actor on Amazon’s Danger & Eggs. Ross is also set to star in FX’s upcoming Pose, an 80s-set drama that will contain the largest trans cast of a scripted show.

Musicians

Kehlani

Grammy-nominated pop and R&B artist Kehlani released her first studio album SweetSexySavage in 2017. Before then, she had released the critically successful mixtapes Cloud 19 and You Should Be Here, the latter receiving a Grammy nomination. In addition to two of her own tours, she has also gone on tour with pop artists Halsey and Demi Lovato. Kehlani identifies as queer and the music video for her recent single “Honey” highlights a queer love story.

Kelela

After releasing Cut 4 Me, her first mixtape which was praised by the likes of Solange Knowles, R&B and electronic musician Kelela rose to prominence with her follow up EP Hallucinogen and last year, her first full studio album, Take Me Apart. The album tells the story of two of her relationships, and has received massive critical acclaim. Kelela has often spoken out about how her music reflects her experience as a queer black woman.

Matt Palmer

Singer/songwriter Matt Palmer has released a seven song visual EP Get Lost, which chronicles the rise and fall of a relationship between Palmer and his love interest portrayed by out YouTuber Max Emerson. This is a follow up to his 2014 EP Stranger than Fiction, which was his first release after coming out. Get Lost will be out in full on March 9th.

Comic Book Writers and Artists

Roxane Gay

Bisexual essayist and author Roxane Gay, most known for Bad Feminist and Hunger among other works, made her comic book writing debut in 2016 when she wrote GLAAD Media Award-nominee World of Wakanda with poet Yona Harvey.  A spinoff of the Black Panther series written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, the series is a romance between two women, Ayo and Aneka, who are former members of the Dora Milaje, a group of elite warriors assigned to protect the throne of Wakanda.

Brittney Williams

Brittney Williams has drawn for multiple projects, including Marvel’s Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! and Boom! Studio’s Goldie Vance. Goldie Vance, the story of a teenage mixed race queer detective, was recently announced as being developed for a film adaptation, produced by Rashida Jones and Kerry Washington. Both Goldie Vance and Patsy Walker have received GLAAD Media Award nominations for Outstanding Comic Book.

Tee Franklin

A comic book writer whose graphic novel Bingo Love debuted last month to critical praise, Tee Franklin is a self-described "queer, disabled, woman of color" who is making an impact in comics. She is the creator of publishing company Inclusive Press, which publishes comics by creators who are part of marginalized communities, and creator of the #BlackComicsMonth hashtag. Bingo Love, a romance between two women who are reunited in their sixties, came to be from a Kickstarter campaign, and was released by Image comics on Valentine’s Day.

Comedians

Solomon Georgio

LA-based comedian Solomon Georgio released his first album and special last year with Comedy Central. Both the special and album, Homonégro Superior, speak to Georgio’s experience as a gay African immigrant. In addition to recording comedy, he is currently on a U.S. tour with band Deer Tick, and dates can be found here.

Sam Jay

Out lesbian comedian Sam Jay was one of the comedians that Vulture put on their Comedians to Watch List of 2017. She had a half hour Comedy Central special, and will also be debuting a 15 minute stand up special on Netflix later this year along with several other comedians. She was recently hired as a writer on Saturday Night Live starting in the fall of 2017.

Jaboukie Young-White

Another entry in Vulture’s Comedians to Watch, Jaboukie Young-White made headlines with his late night debut in December. The comedian told jokes about his queerness, “masc for masc” culture, and flirting with male Uber drivers, which served as coming out to his parents. In addition to stand-up, Young-White is a writer on Netflix’s American Vandal.