Time has rolled out its yearly list of the 100 Most Influential People for 2020, and on the list are an array of Black LGBTQ people and allies who continue to push the culture forward. From Angela Davis, Billy Porter, Tourmaline, to the Black Lives Matter founders and straight allies Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union, these folks have been a light for so many people in a year filled with darkness. Check out what other cultural influencers and change-makers have to say about them below.
Written by Common
Angela Davis said that at a UCLA panel we were on together, and her words stuck with me. Her love for Black people and humanity at large fuels her; you can see it reflected in her impact on our world.
Her legacy is timeless; rooted in her truth, it encourages future generations to be courageous. As a child, her family friends were among the young girls killed in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. As a political leader, she was attacked, hunted and imprisoned; she dared to stand against a racist system. She’s seen and witnessed it all, and she continues to inspire, educate and resist oppression. Continue reading here.
By Cyndi Lauper
Growing up, I was an outcast. I didn’t fit in. I was lonely. But what I had was imagination and creativity. When Billy Porter and I met, we were instantly kindred spirits. We both moved through the world as people who didn’t fit in, and we made use of what made us different as an asset. When you can embrace those things about yourself that don’t fit in, that is when the magic happens.
When I wrote the songs for Lola for Kinky Boots and then met Billy, I knew he was Lola. He brought her to life. His portrayal was one of the most important reasons for the show’s success. Billy can sing anything. He brings electricity into a room. When you watch him on Pose, you experience that same magic. Continue reading here.
By Janet Mock
I first met filmmaker and activist Tourmaline in 2012 through her Tumblr “The Spirit Was …,” a visual archive centering folks who had been left out of the whitewashed historical narrative of the LGBTQ+ movement. Because of Tourmaline’s fastidious work digitizing archival materials that might otherwise have been lost to time, I got to actually watch videos, read newspaper clippings, and view never-before-seen photographs of trans icons Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Because of Tourmaline, my particular experience as a Black trans woman also speaking uncomfortable truths was validated and affirmed.
She wielded us with actual proof of our collective existence, our lives and our contributions. Tourmaline gave us evidence of our lineage, and in a culture where histories of marginalized people—particularly Black trans and queer people—aren’t preserved in mainstream storytelling, Tourmaline is a force showing us to ourselves, proving to anyone paying attention that trans people have always been here. Continue reading here.
By Tarana Burke
Calling Gabrielle Unioninfluential is accurate—but also doesn’t quite capture what she does for the culture on a regular basis. She isn’t just “influencing”; she is intentionally directing her attention, influence and resources to advance an agenda that deliberately celebrates the most marginalized among us, including Black women and girls and queer and trans folks. Her dedication to inclusivity was especially evident in November, when she was controversially fired as a judge on America’s Got Talent after calling out multiple counts of racial insensitivity and a toxic work environment on the show. Many people in the spotlight wouldn’t take the risk to speak out about such injustice. Continue reading here.
By John Legend
Dwyane Wade was one of the greatest shooting guards in NBA history—he was amazing at getting to the basket. But he has also always seen his role as greater than basketball. He has always been willing to spend his social capital on standing up for other people, using his platform and his philanthropy to move the conversation forward. He doesn’t have to do these things. But he sees that he has a larger purpose, and that his athletic career put him in a position to make the world a better, safer and more loving place.
And with his support for his daughter Zaya, who is transgender, Dwyane has set a powerful example for parents and for society of how to be good allies to young people who are figuring out who they are. Continue reading here.
Black Lives Matter Founders
By Sybrina Fulton
I first heard about the Black Lives Matter movement the year my son Trayvon was killed. It wasn’t on a national level yet. It was just something that people were saying in our circles. To know that Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza and Opal Tometiwere out there organizing this movement—I felt supported and encouraged.
There are only three of them, but they are everywhere. They are getting people to think: What if you had a 17-year-old son in a hoodie, and no weapon, just a candy and a drink, and now he’s dead on the ground? What if your daughter was sleeping in her own bed and the police knocked down the door and killed her? How would you feel? That is what “Black Lives Matter” asks. Continue reading here.