Northwest Lesbian and Gay History Museum Project

Lesbian and Gay Black Lives



July 2021 -- It is beyond imagining, in this dual crisis of pandemic and injustice, what is lost when any segment of our community is dismissed -- by those with power to spare or end life -- as not mattering. For many LGBT people of color, the multiplication of bigotries they experienced thrust them across the boundaries of race, gender, and religion. Here are some first-person recollections from gay and lesbian African-Americans in our area, from oral histories collected by the Northwest Lesbian and Gay History Project between 1997 and 2002.

At least two of the narrators are no longer alive. All have lived with purpose, in ways both inconspicuous and notable. All heeded the impulses of the heart, to make positive change or fix what is broken. Each of them touched many other lives in an interlocking network of commitment and compassion.

Note that the stories in this section, like all narratives that emerge from the oral history process, are a snapshot of the narrators' reflections and opinions at the time of the interviews, which took place between the mid-1990s and the following decade. Some have passed away, but those who remain with us still live lives of involvement, and their evaluations of past experience continue to evolve.

Originally published in:
Seattle Gay News. Friday, June 26, 2020: pp. 19-22.

photos this page: / photographers noted

         Black lgbtq lives matter sign

                                       clay banks

No Justice sign

clay banks

Say Their Names sign

clay banks

They Want Our Rhythm sign

duncan shaffer


"Now, I think I would like to try that."

       Origins of the United Ebony Council


We were told about 'particular friendships'.

       Spiritual vocation and beyond


I decided Id take a chance anyway.

       Standing up to racism


"If I could choose my family, I would choose you."

       Breaking new ground in the drag scene


I see no reason to treat people like that, and I am not
going to do it.

       Questioning authority at Annapolis


So that no one would ever die feeling that God
didnt love them.

       A calling to LGBT-welcoming ministry


Chris Beahler
Charlie Fuchs
Walter Grodzik
Emily Hazen
Larry Knopp
Emma Moreno
Ruth Pettis
Mikala Woodward


Teri Balkenende
Lisa Galvin
Suzanne Kelly
Ruth Pettis

In Memoriam:

Chris Beahler
Marvin Sterling
Rev. Gwen Hall

To cite this article:

"Lesbian and Gay Black Lives -- Mattering."
Introduction by Ruth Pettis.
Northwest Lesbian and Gay History Museum Project
Seattle, WA: 2021.

                  Know Justice sign

                  jacob boavista


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